Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saving our historic buildings.....

Isnt it wonderful to arrive in a city or town, and be totally inspired by the beautiful historic architecture that you find there? Whenever I drive through Bendigo, a town I have known and loved all my life, I still find myself in awe of the beauty of the buildings built on the prosperity of the 1860's gold rush. And when I first visited Mildura in Victoria's far north west, I was gob smacked by the amount of stunning and mostly untouched art deco public buildings - a result of the slowing down of the towns progress from that time, thus retaining most of the fine architecture for today....phew !!  But what of places that have no regard for their heritage? And what of more modern, contemporary architecture that has not quite yet come to public attention as being worthy of preservation...... I am thinking of 1950's and 60's cream brick houses, of the same era public buildings (one example off the top of my head - Echuca Council Offices), of sites given provenance by their association with people who are today's leaders, artists or visionaries. We are in truth probably only 10 years away from these sites being recognised by the broader public in the same way they now view art deco buildings, but in the meantime, what can those of us with a love of mid century architecture do to rescue these beautiful icons of our recent past from the clutches of the spider like web of 'newer is better, bigger, bolder' type developments?

Firstly, I would suggest that education and awareness are paramount. How will the broader public recognise the value of our recent past places of significance unless they are shown the value? Events like the recent 50's fair at Rose Seidler House (more on that in another post soon to come) do MUCH to promote the value of our more recent cultural times - more such events and publicising of places of mid century significance are a must !

And the second thing we can do is to voice our love and appreciation to the valid people and government bodies. Petitioning the Heritage council in your state to register significant buildings (before it's too late) is vital, as is supporting actions to oppose inappropriate development at the expense of historical significance.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for appropriate development. But not at the expense of our heritage sites. We are a democratic community in Australia, so theoretically we can exist together with consideration and empathy.....those of us that LOVE history, and those that want to develop something new (and make money usually).

If you value historic buildings, can I suggest helping out one cause that is playing out in Hornsby, Sydney at this very moment? The beautiful CWA buildings are under threat of demolition from the local council for nothing more than supposed 'access to extend the swimming pol complex', although there appears to be some hidden agendas involved (typical!). Please head to this website and register your name on the petition to save this building from turning to dust. There is also a facebook site that you can join to stay updated.
I would love to hear of any other heritage site issues that are of concern to my readers, please post a comment if you have a story of this nature to share. And always remember, there is great power in numbers, together we can make a mighty difference..............................

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