Mitcham Towers - Lost in evolution

On occasion I venture into the Eastern suburbs and more often than not catch a glimpse of Mitcham Village Apartments, successor to the failed Bates Smart designed 17-storey Mitcham Towers proposal (seen below) circa 2003. At the time Tony Hogg, head of Mitcham Residents Association described the proposal as "A complete eyesore."

Well a penny for Mr Hogg's current thoughts as what the local community ended up with is a visually destitute outcome. Granted Mitcham Village Apartments is half the height of the original poroposal, yet City of Whitehorse was seemingly so eager to push through any development smaller in stature than what was approved they lost all perspective regarding good design and sensible urban outcomes. I'm so tempted to describe this development as insipid but i'm not sure whether it is.

Every party with a vested interest feels they have gained through this development. Council and community feel they've won due to a development half the size of what was initially proposed and subsequently approved by VCAT, the developer wins selling out the 200-unit complex while the architect wins designing a building within the acceptible bounds of council and within the brief of the developer.

Everyone walks away a winner, yet this hulking precast concrete blob remains.

First submitted ten years ago, I wonder what would eventuate if the original Mitcham Towers scheme were to be submitted now? The world has turned more than a few times, attitudes toward high density living have changed - so much so a 33 level tower is under consideration in nearby Box Hill. In hindsight would the local comminuty prefer a taller, infinitely better design or what sits there now?  Or are people still so scared of tall buildings, they rally at the thought?

As Paul Keating once said: “In a two-horse race, always back self-interest because at least you know it's trying.” So I suspect the inferior eight level monstrosity would win hands down even though the closest residence in any direction is approximately 200m away. Conjecture has its place but one thing's for certain, every time I drive past Mitcham Village Apartments, a look of total disdain will be shot in a certain direction.


1 comment

MelbourneGuy's picture

A well thought out article. When looking at both of these designs I can see where you're coming from. Sometimes the irrational fear of height leads to a situation where, as you say, people think they've won but in actual fact they've been landed with something vastly inferior.

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