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Andrew Mck's picture
#27

Some people are not posting on this site anymore for that very reason that they can't be bothered with Bilby's tiresome non stop self-righteousness.
One of the main reasons coming to UM was to escape from that behavior from SSC, I'm afraid it's infecting here now.

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#28

actually main reason for leaving SSC was to escape un-intellectual statements by pro-development types made as fact

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Bilby's picture
#29

Self-righteousness? Maybe. But in any case - you might as well put your money where your mouth is now you've weighed in to this debate, Andrew Mck - what's better, an opinion about what is good for the wider city of Melbourne and it's community, based on personal preference, or an opinion based on well qualified, expert evidence?

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Chris Seals's picture
#30

All opinions and debate are healthy, I would hate to see dialogue that only sat at one end of the spectrum, we may not agree with what has been said, but you may learn something, Thomas Edison was asked about the many failures in his journey to his invention of the light bulb, his failures were his successes, it taught him what not to do, so debate is all good and the more the differences the merrier and if people are leaving due to ones staunch and passionate views, then it is they that are the losers.

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Adam Ford's picture
#31

Can we actually have a constructive discussion then?

Why and how are the 'current laws inadequate'?

What about the current regime 'crieteria' is 'vague at best'??

Spend any time at all actually working with the current regime and it's hard to support either of those statements. We have a regime of heritage overlays that SHOULD in theory be capable of protecting all the important structures. The 'criteria used to gauge what's worth keeping' aren't 'vague' lol. The criteria is "does is have a heritage overlay or not?" And the process to get to that point is flipping exhaustive.

I'm really all ears to hear what all the policy experts above would put forward for an alternative heritage regime, or what they know to make them think it's so urgently needed, given that none of the heritage activists are even making this call???

Now, as to the former Commonwealth Bank on Elizabeth Street. What a monumentally disappointing response to that on an URBANIST forum.
I honestly, would have characterised THIS place rather than a certain other online alternative as a place where people who have half an interest in architecture rather than skylines come, and where one wouldn't need to defend the principle the modernist buildings can often have significant heritage value. Honestly. The stuff written above here is so dumb, reflex, monosyllabic, ill-considered and ill-informed that I'm really honestly quite shocked.

"How can this building be protected not the Princes Mary Club????""" Urgh. Alright. I'll walk you through it. The Princess Mary Club has CONCRETE CANCER. Does anyone on this forum know how to cure concrete cancer? No you don't. Or if you do, go out and get a patent right now. Then spill the beans ...
The Pricess Mary Club was PROTECTED, but the building was terminal, and so Heritage Victoria eventually granted a permit for its demolition, all of which of course has zero contextual relevance to what we're even talking about - protecting modernist buildings.

Now, this very sgnificant former Commonwealth Bank went through all the same processes as the Princess Mary Club, and was assessed by heritage experts as being significant. Now it has an interim heritage overlay protecting it, pending a process to reconfirm that significance, a process to which anyone here would be able to make a submission.

But you'd better come up with something better than "It's a steaming pile of ugliness that 95% of the popoulation don't even know exists." or you're going to look a bit silly in the hearing next to people who have researched the structure and its history and can tell you why its significant at great length.

Have we really not advanced anywhere beyond "heritage needs to be pretty?" Architecture which is exemplary of particular styles, moments, movements, techniques is universally regarded the world over as worthy of protection, again as per the Burra Charter. Can anyone nominate another freestanding port-war bank structure anywhere in the CBD? In fact can anyone nominate a single storey modernist structure THIS architecturally interesting ... and it's ALMOST futurist ... anywhere in Melbourne?
So, once you've knocked this over, where in the CBD do I go to see examples of modernist retail architecture? I can't. So have you made Melbourne better or worse through this process?

And it's not even ugly. It's a gorgeous, unique building with a VERY distinctive angular form. Use your flipping eyes.

In the meantime, on Tuesday night tthe City of Melbourne voted to do the first comprehensive heritage review of the Hoddle Grid since 1984. MAJOR. So for anyone who thinks, "the current laws are inadequate and it's starting to show" I'd say no. But it is actual work to drive real reform through actual real world processes.

3000, you specifically mention the North end. City of Melbourne has just gazetted c198 that reviewed all the heritage structures around there. Would you mind saying which buildings you think were left out of that? We need to get onto this right away ... this is really bad ... or are you just making random statements a propos of and supported by nothing?

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Danny Boy's picture
#32

Honestly. The stuff written above here is so dumb, reflex, monosyllabic, ill-considered and ill-informed that I'm really honestly quite shocked.

We are not all 'entitled' to an opinion. If your opinion on matters like this is made with zero context, research or logical and intellectual reasoning, it's practically worthless

Nice to see the utter contempt you guys have for people that express a different opinion to you. Pro-tip, if you're looking to convince people to your cause, coming across arrogant zealots doesn't help you at all.

Can someone explain to me why it's necessary for Melbourne to preserve artifacts of every single minuscule sub category of every single architectural style or movement? Especially when the example is objectively ugly, of such little value or significance to Melbourne history and would potentially hinder future development or progress if it were to be retained?

"An important and rare example of a freestanding post-war modernist bank structure in the CBD" Like Michael said, there needs to be a line drawn somewhere, you can get experts to write this sort of heritage wank about just about any building if it's old or rare enough.

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Adam Ford's picture
#33

I have utter respect for everyone's opinions. But people do scrutinise them. Instinctively. Especially if you write them in a public forum as debate.

To answer your question - it's not necessary. But there is such a thing as an urban fabric that is contributed to if you do so judiciously". Judiciously meaning not taking totally subjective "egh, it's ugly" rants as valid argument. I don't think it's ugly. As long as one person other than yourself has the potential to disagree, you can't have aesthetics as a sound basis for judging anything judiciously, much less something you want to put a proper and fair regime around like heritage protection.

"You can get people to write anything". Yes well done. But you have to get a panel to approve it. Then Council has to approve it. Then the Minister has to sign off. There was a complete and proper process just like for all the other heritage buildings. Some bloke doesn't just point at a building and get it locked up forever. But you know all this, so why the aggressive outrage? It's one parcel of land, there was no development proposal and nothing whatsoever has changed on that corner of land.

Except Melbourne will still have an interesting streetscape in its CBD in fifty year, unlike Sydney, and we'll keep winning all those tourists and awards for our kooky-strangeness and fine-grained character, and we'll have a massive competitive advantage in the CBD identity stakes. Who'd put a price on that?

And having a heritage regime that does exactly what Riddlz can't see the point of will be precisely what got us there.

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#34

Riddlz, when we are talking about fairly objective planning issues, or political decisions etc.. not a favourite colour or similar subjective things, an opinion that is based on research, and logical reasons for explaining why heritage has been listed (seen here with a detailed and peer reviewed study of the building, and adoption of it's heritage listing by both council, an independant planning panel including legal experts, and the Planning Minister) has far more weight than one that dismissed all reasoned arguments and complexiity for ' I don't like it cause I don't'
I don't have 'utter contempt' for such views, I merely hold that they are essentially pointless in compasion

[i]"Can someone explain to me why it's necessary for Melbourne to preserve artifacts of every single minuscule sub category of every single architectural style or movement? Especially when the example is objectively ugly, of such little value or significance to Melbourne history and would potentially hinder future development or progress if it were to be retained?"[i]

it isn't, there is so much in the CBD that has zero heritage protection currently, and in any case there is no such push to retain categories of every single built form. of course when we are just talking about one or two significant examples, it IS important that a city retains a mish mash of historic styles and memories, rather than a few token landmarks surrounding by generic modern development, as seen in some of the worst cities wordwide

There is no such thing as 'objectively' ugly unless youre a pre 18th century art academy fop.
I would also say that your concept of 'progress' seems to be very narrowly defined to 'creating a blank slate for best commercial return'

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Bilby's picture
#35

Agreed. But here's the other thing - those who hold all opinion as sacrosanct need to consider what that means. You say all opinions are valid? Ok, here's my opinion: not all opinions have equal value. In fact, opinions backed by research, expertise and evidence are more valuable than those backed by personal whim or preference alone.

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Danny Boy's picture
#36

^^ Research, evidence and expertise based entirely on subjective matters ( does it have value?), as you all claim it is. It's easily up for debate or opinion then, such is the nature of subjectivity, there's no hard facts or evidence here right?

I'm glad you both agree that it isn't necessary, yet this is exactly the type of thinking I see coming out of our heritage regime, an ever dwindling search for heritage value that has been previously missed or over-looked in gap-studies or reviews. Where does it end? I'm sure in 70 years time we could get the Brady Hotel on little la trobe street added to the heritage register if it were still around by then.

Melbourne Fragments, you're dipping into a much broader philosophical debate within art and elsewhere about objective beauty which isn't worth discussing here but yes I do tend to fall in line with that perspective, regarding the problems with the lack of intrinsic beauty or worth in certain modern art, calling it foppish is naive.

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Bilby's picture
#37

It's interesting how the powerful define any aesthetic or cultural artefacts not of any interest to themselves as having "subjective" value, while the aspects of culture that speak of (or are co-opted into the service of) power are viewed as being of "objective" worth. So, "we" (the powerful) can agree that the Windsor Hotel, or Flinders Street Station have intrinsic heritage value, whether dilapidated or not, while a building that represents a strong physical presence in the CBD for women's history has "subjective" merit only. Hence, the minister and Heritage Victoria are willing to let the Princess Mary Club go.

Modernism in Australia, too, has always been relegated to the fringes of culture, often being seen as "hard" to understand, lacking in emotional comfort, or just plain "ugly". But then, those are debates worth having - to say that aesthetics is "subjective" misses the point of cultural debate entirely. All opinions about value are "subjective", unless like Plato, one believes in the realm of the Forms, or some other esoteric guarantee of objective truth and beauty. But then values are not derived from other realms, are they? They come from people, community and ideas. Where architecture has a special place in the shared culture - perhaps even ethically speaking - is that it impinges on the civic realm directly. Buildings represent a (typically) long lasting, visible and physical manifestation of culture that cannot be "ignored" by the public. In addition, buildings use up significant physical and social resources in their construction, maintenance and operation, so they are never ethically neutral in social terms. Hence, they do have an "objective" importance in culture, even if only in these terms. Add to that the symbolic and historical significance of particular buildings, and you have something with more "objective" cultural grit than might first appear.

What then is our responsibility to historic built fabric, ethically speaking? Well, I would have thought that at the very least, we have a responsibility to assess them against a range of culturally, historically and socially relevant criteria before issuing demolition permits - and I'd add to that, in the 21st century, environmental and sustainability criteria too. While the responses to some of these criteria might, in some way be, "subjective", they are at least tested in ways that have garnered some sort of social and cultural consensus over time.

Now, technically speaking, all objects are like that - and while I could buy a Van Gogh and, being my private property, exercise my legal right to destroy it, few would meaningfully argue that I had acted ethically, or in the interests of human culture. I could say that the painting had only "subjective" aesthetic and cultural merit, but that would not save me from civic opprobrium, would it? And in a very real sense, in doing so, I would have done harm to a kind of collective interest that exists independently of notions of property. People would be saddened and culturally impoverished as a result of my decision to destroy "my" Van Gogh - and possibility financially harmed, too, if said painting might have become a tourist attraction, had it been restored and put on public display under the auspices of a cultural institution that could help interpret its meaning and value.

Buildings, similarly, have this cultural value - whether the owners of them, or indeed some (or even most) members of the community do not recognise it. To argue otherwise is, quite simply, to argue for a totalitarian view of "culture" where certain cultural products are inscribed with "value" (as measured against an absolute set of values), and others are struck off as "worthless" trash, not worthy of the dominant set of values of the community as a whole.

If we have no room in the whole CBD for one solitary example of mid-century modernism like the 1956 bank building we have been discussing here, because it "interferes" with the "total" idea of a high-rise, development and consumption driven city, where literally every square inch of private property is co-opted into a grand 21st century vision for urban renewal, what room do we have for culture, and cultural difference more broadly here in Melbourne?

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Danny Boy's picture
#38

Brevity is the soul of wit, bilby.

I'm done here, perhaps I shouldn'tve mentioned the topic of subjectivity.

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Michael Berquez's picture
#39

I'm glad you did RIDDLZ, you make a lot of sense to some of us.

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Andrew Mck's picture
#40

On whose authority is ones opinion worth more than another's ?
Like so many debates there's 2 sides, with each side taking the experts information that suits their own agenda
We see it in everything from climate change to urbanization.

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Bilby's picture
#41

A better question would be, not on whose authority, but on what authority is one opinion worth more than another. Answering that is fairly straight forward - on the authority of expertise and established principles for determining the facts of the matter (be it heritage value or the causes of global warming). With regard to science, all that can be said is that it is the most effective way of achieving cross-cultural, cross-national consensus on contested questions about nature. No other method has achieved such an astonishing level of consensus about the workings of the natural world, full stop - a few blips of disagreement around the edges of climate change science don't change that remarkable fact.

And in the case of one's opinion about heritage value - almost by definition an individual view about the value of the heritage of a state, city or community has less value than the codified value(s) of the community as a whole, as represented by heritage legislation, the Burra Charter and other relevant documents and research.

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Adrian's picture
#42

Bilby - would you personally prefer to see that Commonweatlh building kept or bulldozed for something new ?

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Bilby's picture
#43

I would like to see it retained. The question would be best answered in the context of what might replace it, though.

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Qantas743's picture
#44

Probuild and Built calling for tender submissions for this one in today's Hun.

Didn't even know they were close to getting started. Have they secured a tenant?

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Danny Boy's picture
#45

CBD | 130-150 Lonsdale Street | Wesley Place | 33 & 22L | 144m & 80m | Commercial

CBD | 130-150 Lonsdale Street | Wesley Place | 33 & 22L | 144m & 80m | Commercial

CBD | 130-150 Lonsdale Street | Wesley Place | 33 & 22L | 144m & 80m | Commercial

CBD | 130-150 Lonsdale Street | Wesley Place | 33 & 22L | 144m & 80m | Commercial

CBD | 130-150 Lonsdale Street | Wesley Place | 33 & 22L | 144m & 80m | Commercial

CBD | 130-150 Lonsdale Street | Wesley Place | 33 & 22L | 144m & 80m | Commercial

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#46

the 80's want's its bland curved glass back

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SYmlb's picture
#47

^ Is this one going to happen without a major tenant committed?

I love this design but feel like they could of at least attempted to find a way to integrate the Princess Mary. Too expensive to repair may be the argument, but this is a fairly significant and important historical building.

Don't think that is good enough though.

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Dean's picture
#48

This is considerably better than the originally proposed building. I think the articulation is well done without being too dramatic. If they get the curtain wall glass right It'll be quite a stand out building.

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Laurence Dragomir's picture
#49

Looks like the floorplate does a prima pearl, with the inflection gradually transitioning into a more regular form.

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db2's picture
#50

Much MUCH better than the previous design. A fantastic outcome. This would be a great building to work in especially those green open spaces. The westerly and southerly views will be awesome too.

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3000's picture
#51

No complaints here, I like the curved glass for an office tower for a change. Beats 'stumpy square box' that has been the norm for a while now.

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