Facadism in Melbourne

Melbourne Heritage Action was pleased to see The Age covering the issue of façadism in Melbourne – ‘History Pared Back to Tower Facades’. As a group we are concerned that this approach – where only a small proportion of the front of a building is preserved – is increasingly being regarded as a satisfactory outcome for heritage in our city.

Proposal for new tower that will facade the VD clinic
Proposal for new tower that will facade the VD clinic

From The Age (see the full story here):

Facadism – a trend of using only the frontage of historical buildings in new developments – is making a return to Melbourne’s CBD.

Three recent proposals would see some of Melbourne’s historic buildings demolished (except for the brick facades) to make way for skyscrapers.

Critics of the trend that was popular in the 1990s say facadism is ”fake heritage”, ”anti-cultural” and creates an ”ugly, pop-up book version” of Melbourne’s history.

MHA president Rupert Mann was quoted in the report and ’called for more planning protection so that Melbourne’s character was not reduced to ”paper-thin facades devoid of their soul”.’

Not only does MHA deplore the use of façadism as a ‘solution’ to preserving heritage, we are also concerned that several buildings that are currently threatened with this treatment have actually been recommended by the City of Melbourne for full heritage listing in the C186 amendment, which continues to languish in Matthew Guy’s in-tray. This includes the Celtic Club on the corner of Queen St and La Trobe and the Women’s Venereal Disease clinic on Little Lonsdale Street.

Celtic Club in Lonsdale St.
Celtic Club in Lonsdale St.

We were heartened to see that in the comments on the story many people agree that façadism is not a good thing for our city!

To see more examples and join in the discussion visit our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/MelbourneHeritageAction or leave a comment below.

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