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Old and new collide on Lygon Street

I can't think of a better case study than Lygon Street, East Brunswick when judging the interface between old and new, particularly given the robust construction activity over the strip in the last few years. Smith Street, Collingwood comes close but Lygon Street serves as an excellent example of existing dated buildings and new apartment blocks intertwining along an established transport corridor.

From historic buildings through to both questionable and exemplary contemporary apartment buildings, Lygon Street in this part of the world has on show the full gamut of what a modern urban Melbourne has to offer. With the below image set taken early autumn, the intent is to revisit the area once more next year to judge how much has changed on and within the vicinity of Lygon Street.

For now enjoy the image set below, with a particular eye toward the melding of old and new. An excellent outcome or frictional, overdeveloped chaos? Opinions do vary but in a modern higher-density Melbourne, does it get better than this?

An established low-rise area with apartments rising behind

6 comments

Bilby's picture

Leaving Brunswick was the best decision I've ever made - the area has been ruined by a litany of sub-standard designs, poor material choices and kitsch facade treatments. The only thing worse than that 'Stratus' facade would have to be the new 'You and I' building with its embarrassing Chadstone-esque precast concrete 'artwork' panels on Smith Street.

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Mark Baljak's picture

So more generic building frontages are the order of the day rather than trying to deliver some artwork to street life?

You and I has a precast backing that the artworks are to be installed over, or so I understand

By your way of thinking there won't be too many strips left that will be 'unscathed' by contemporary development soon enough, fair comment? If so it always goes back to Council enforcing design controls, but that's easier said than done.

Btw what do you think of Tip Top and Joulia, probably the two apartment projects that best work in the area

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Vinny's picture

I’m strongly leaning towards frictional, overdeveloped chaos. Got to love all that exposed concrete. Most of that is really verging on tacky and I can’t see those apartments ageing too well at all. I've seen some amazing infill overseas which is actually contextual; a concept not encouraged here to the detriment of our streetscapes.

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Bilby's picture

I don't know what 'contextual' might mean in this context, but I'm not in favour or reproduction of heritage styles. Perhaps some reference to existing built form is what you mean, Vinny? And Mark, yes, absolutely I'd go for honest, plain concrete frontages over bad on-street artwork any day. I love the Republic Tower with its genuine art space, but this developer-imposed lifeless kitsch is utter dross and detrimental to the streetscape and city. As for Tip Top, I haven't been up to see the finished building, but it looked pretty interesting under construction - the use of aluminium cladding is a massive mistake, though. It doesn't develop a pleasant patina over time and ages badly - just a poor material choice, really. Otherwise, I'll withhold judgement until I've seen the finished thing in person. As for Joulia - I don't know that one. Where is it?

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Alastair Taylor's picture

Joulia: Corner of Lygon and Glenlyon.

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Vinny's picture

Yes Bilby, I'm not a fan of reproduction architecture either (it's rarely done well) but I'd like to see something contemporary that is respectful to its neighbours in terms of building materials, scale, etc. Berlin has some outstanding examples, as too NYC. Both progressive cities that don’t need to prove anything by building kitsch under the guise of new architecture.
I may be a little harsh with this statement but this this current local architectural zeitgeist makes us appear provincial and that we’re trying too hard. Look at some of the new skyscraper proposals; they’d make planners in a third-tier Chinese city cringe.

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