Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A nice facade

The writing was on the wall. The northern part of city has many highrise apartments now, mostly where there were industrial sites.

I took this photo with my phone some months ago. I remember it as a Harley Davidson motorcycle showroom, called Harley Heaven. Will it be saved as a highrise apartment building goes up on the A'Beckett Street site?


Kind of. The facade will be kept with a decent set back for the tower behind it.


While I am not exactly what it's original purpose was, it seems like it may have a printing works, which makes sense. Before it was emptied of Harleys, it was Brent's Motors, selling Jaguars and Rovers. Before then it was the home of Commonwealth Motors, selling Hillman and Vauxhall cars. In another life, it sold Citroen cars.


Facadism is a popular way to save some of an old building. I have quite mixed thoughts about it. We have some terrible examples of it here in Melbourne and perhaps at times the building may as well be demolished rather than end up looking absurdly bad. I'm interested to hear your thoughts about facadism. Good? Bad? Can be done well? Examples? 

22 comments:

  1. I have only seen one example here. There was a petrol station/garage at the top of the street my mother lived in. The facade was kept (though I cannot say I can see it) and apartments built on site. It is not somewhere I would even consider living. A petrol station/garage stood there for well over fifty years and I am very sure that the products permeated the ground. It overlooks a major road on one side, and looks back towards a (now) posh suburb on the other.

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    1. EC, as I understand it, it is incumbent upon the developer, the vendor or the government to remove contaminated soil before any construction begins. There are some great old service stations, especially in the US but here too.

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  2. The art Deco cinema near us is being renovated and it's facade has been restored to its former glory.I too have mixed feelings about facadism, and wonder why older buildings can't be fully restored, The reason I'm sure would be that the land they stand on is very valuable.

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    1. Cheryl agreed. And because developers have the historical sense of a small gnat:(

      If the original building, fully renovated, would be too small, then build a modern building on top or behind. But ensure that the set back is big enough not to damage the look of the original building.

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    2. Cheryl, that is what it is about, money. Developers can make much larger profits by knocking a low rise down and putting up a high rise. Facadism is what they do when local governments insist on some retention of what is there.

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    3. Hels, I have heard that the set back is quite good for this building, but we shall see.

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  3. I remember one in my old neighbourhood in Toronto, a magnificent art deco fur shop, around for donkey's years and they did match the high rise behind it quite well, a mustardy brick and retained all the lovely windows and lobby. Alas the rules are less strict today and what they are doing in the name of preservation is a joke.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, we noticed a lot of facadism in Toronto but also the retaining of some wonderful old buildings. It is the same here, with developers seeming to able to run riot over local councils and those who care about their area.

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  4. I think that façade would work well if the tower behind is faced in Art Deco style to mirror the original. Sorry you've lost your Harley Heaven though. We still have ours I think.

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    1. River, the less noisy Harley's on the road, the better. While I don't necessarily want a high rise copy of the original, it needs to be sympathetic.

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  5. Not sure where your at but we have a lot of empty building and when they were used asbesto. Which bring the question of what to do with buildings I understand it quite costly to safely bring them down.

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    1. Dora, I suppose it depends on the quality of the building. Removing asbestos from an existing building is expensive.

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  6. I've only known of one example personally. It was a Georgian building in Brighton that was to be pulled down. The council insisted that the facade was saved, and built onto behind. The finished job was very good.

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    1. Ok, Cro. Interesting. I would struggle to approve of any half decent Georgian building to be pulled down.

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  7. Not seen it here. May not have noticed if I did see it.

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    1. Strayer, I suppose buildings have to be quite special and old to warrant it.

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  8. It is seldom done well, all to often it looks like a modern building growing out of the roof and an old building. We also tend to confuse old with historic, or significant. Just because a building has been there for 75 years, does not mean it is worth preserving.

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    1. Travel, that is true about the age of buildings. But sometimes it is not just about the building, rather the history or streetscape.

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  9. I think it works well sometimes and not others but who makes that judgement call, that's the thing!I think I should be on that committee Andrew 😁

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    1. Grace, you and me both on the committee.

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  10. Here in New England we were losing much of our historical homes. About 35+ years ago people woke up and now we have societies to preserve our historical buildings and store fronts. It's kind of nice.

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    1. Maribeth, that is good to know

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