Geoff Southward, Suffolk Park
In the architectural world there are many annual awards for excellence. Awards for forward-thinking designs that enhance our environment, push the envelope of technique and application, and inspire us to think afresh.
Great architecture can be a defining presence – iconic, thought provoking, sometimes outrageous or just plain pleasing to the eye. At its best It can be life-affirming, or simply fabulous to behold!
And then there’s Byron…
We should start our own annual awards for architecture and I suggest we call it the BUBBA’s – the Bloody Ugly Byron Building Awards.
For this year I vote for the redevelopment of the old council chambers in Lawson St. I’m not an architect but I know what I like and this building looks like sadness.
Seriously, can we get any more generically uninspired aesthetically bland than this building? For a development that could have capitalised on its heritage-listed façade to create something individually ‘Byron’ we have an outcome that brings nothing to the streetscape – nada, zip, zero. It is devoid of anything remotely representative of a town that sees itself as vibrant, progressive, creative and individual.
It’s in a prime position on 2 street frontages, and with the number of backpacker beds behind it’s cheap demountable-style façade, will become very much a hub. A first experience for many travellers. So why aim so low? How can developers get away with building something so bloody ordinary in a key location?
Even overlooking the physical shape of the building, with it’s mish-mash of boxy shapes (if it was meant to be a bit edgy / urban it’s failed completely), there’s nothing remotely green, sustainable or interesting in the face it presents to the world.
Even the most design-challenged hipster- designer -wannabbee would have used something obvious like recycled timber cladding, or incorporated even a token green wall somewhere, or given a tiny nod to it’s heritage. Not in Byron.
Sure, now we’ve got a Masterplan for ultimate bliss, but that counts for nothing if we have a council rubber stamping sadness.
We sold our soul ( and or community buildings) to the developers long ago – shouldn’t we start demanding something better back from them?