The evolution of our suburbs continues, sometimes with striking developments like the new zinc clad “A”-shape geometric modernism in Baliol St. College Park but more frequently with bland boxiness and beige rendering that smothers the earth and pays no heed to energy efficiency. Is this the suburban landscape we want? Is it the suburban landscape we deserve? How much should be left to the individual’s requirements and how much influence should planners have? Where do individual’s requirements, community standards and planning needs intersect and how much should they be allowed to diverge? Is there an Adelaide aesthetic to be proud of? What will a future version of Adelaide: Light and Stone look like?
I don’t always find it easy to decide if a new building has a good aesthetic, or even an old building for that matter! So I have been thinking about my personal values for a while, particularly as I accumulated photos to include in Adelaide: Light and Stone.
Deciding if a building is good is not always a straightforward decision and goes beyond personal preference. For me, a building can work because it is interesting rather than beautiful. Sometimes when it contrasts with its surroundings rather than blending in.
For now, I have adopted the approach of looking at a building and imagining making a postcard to send to friends overseas. Would I choose to include the building or would I go out of my way to avoid including the building as part of the image? This certainly brings a finer focus to the decision making…. And sadly, as I walk around our streets, the answer is too frequently “avoid”. Frequently not because the building is astonishingly ugly, but because it is depressingly bland (although one could argue the difference!).
So when you are thinking about constructing a new building or just painting your existing one, use some ruthless honesty and try imagining it on a post-card. Is this an image that stirs emotion and admiration from the viewer? Enough to make a stranger want to visit your city or suburb? If it doesn’t, is there an alternative affordable alternative? It does not have to be an expensive solution. It could be a change of colour or the plants in the garden. Take some inspiration from places you have visited and why you enjoyed looking at the buildings. Why you might have photographed them! Together we can create an environment we enjoy living in and one that we are proud to display to visitors.