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Byron Shire
October 22, 2021

Sad architectural end for old Byron council chambers

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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?

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. Geoff Southward’s recent letter in the paper about the recently renovated old Byron Council Chambers is spot on.

    If you step back and have a look at this building it would have to one of the most ugly buildings in Byron’s commercial precinct.

    The old facade has been swallowed up by an over-bearing mutation of simulated left over dongles now appears like like an out of place appendage. I have seen better looking appendages at the Crystal Sex Shop.

    Really how did this crap get approved by council?

    No matter how many coloured pictures they stick on the outside of the building it will not soften or improve the design.

    The design is out of character with the town and the adjacent commercial premises.

    Whoever approved the building needs to have their qualifications re-examined to ensure that they were not mail-ordered.

    Unfortunately now in hindsight the facade of the old building should have been knocked down rather than being married forever more with the resultant monstrosity.

    The onus is really on the council to approve beautiful functional buildings that work for the local population rather than just satisfy a developer’s equation to maximise their asset.

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