Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A question of aesthetics

Recently, two articles have been published on the Sydney Morning Herald regarding housing and development in Sydney.
The first one- regarding KDR or knock down rebuild, speaks of a resident who decided to knock down an existing weatherboard house to replace with her dream home. The article discusses the changing face of many of the older 'outer' suburbs of Sydney and how the KDR and renovation trade is booming.

The other article is in relation to approval for alts and adds to a home owned by Mark Scharzer (Socceroo goal keeper), which was previously a childhood home of Christina Steed, author (and apparently idol of Jonathan Franzen). The article discusses local opposition to the proposed changes by reason of heritage significance and character.

I find it interesting that within 2 days, two very disparate articles on housing essentially raise the same issue- one of housing aesthetics. I have a habit of reading through viewer comments on newspaper articles. I believe it gives a great (or grave in many cases!) insight into the world.
The first article received comments ridiculing the appearance, size and necessity for such a large dwelling.  I found it interesting that a number of comments also indicated that doing up a fibro house wasnt a bad thing either (i must declare my bias- i am currently making my little fibro shack pretty)
Of course you get those who say that its the owners land, they can do what they want with it.

The second articles comments discuss the need to maintain historic Sydney, community groups having too much of a say on private property matters and how the Scharzer's have already attempted to maintain the heritage of the property, whilst creating additions that are modern (ok i must again declare my bias- i work has dealings in heritage).

What i got out of both these articles is a debate of 'the public good' and the question of where aesthetics fit into what 'the public good' is? Should we be complaining about the proposed additions to a dwelling, that is historic (yet not officially heritage listed) and exhibits character, or should we be complaining that people should not build massive dwellings, that to many, do not provide any character of place or architectural merit? Where does the community and government step in to this question of aesthetics? Why is this question of aesthetics so disparate in Sydney?

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