Up in arms.
And now let us turn to the extremely divisive topic of modern architecture. Are you a fan or do you find anything built after 1950 an utter abomination? Do Frank Gehry’s swoops and undulations make you shudder with glee or recoil in disgust?
Is the name Zaha Hadid taste like honey on your lips or bitter gall?
Well, the world’s current most passionate, volatile debate spilled into Sydney’s typically passive locals dug in on both sides over the $3m refurbishment of the Coogee Surf Lifesaving Club.
What was once a simple yellow brick has turned fabulous (in the author’s opinion) but the man who paid for it, New South Wales treasurer Dominic Perrottet, is infuriated and says it now looks “like a massive microwave.”
Continuing, he added, “In the lead-up to the 2017 budget I stood inside that stunning clubhouse and announced new funding to upgrade it and make it more accessible. This isn’t what I had in mind. It’s possible I said the old clubhouse was good enough to frame, but I didn’t mean literally. We have to stop turning icons into eyesores. Buildings like this occupy public spaces that belong to everyone. That’s why beauty in architecture is so important. The buildings we build should complement the beauty of their surroundings. Our city deserves better and we must do better.”
Some have found the facelift so disturbing that an online petition has been set up demanding the original architecture be restored.
Coogee Surf Life Saving Club president Todd Mison, however, has slapped back, telling Perrottet they didn’t ask for the money in the first place, it was just given, and that he loves the re-design. “I can only go on what I’ve heard, but I stand outside that club literally everyday and the feedback is predominantly positive from both club members and passersby. I think the way they’ve blended the old downstairs portico, which has been left in situ, with the contemporary, is amazing.”
Mike Harris, a landscape architecture academic at the University of New South Wales, said, “The (redesign) doesn’t look impressive, even for a modernist apologist like myself. But if the original ever had any architectural merit it has been modified beyond recognition – a not uncommon incremental process over 100 years.”
Coogee local Marty Doyle said, “I reckon it’s gross.”
But now to the most important critic of all.
What is your informed opinion?