POST 108: WEST AUSTRALIA’S CULTURAL HERITAGE COMES IN DIFFERENT FORMS – HISTORIC BUILDINGS IS ONE OF THEM

Introduction.

There are several West Australia Facebook groups and thousands of Perth citizens that talk about the magnificent architecture which used to distinguish the City of Perth

Most of it has been demolished. They regularly publish photos of the iconic buildings Perth lost in the 1960s to the 90s, and even as recently as 2014, many of Perth’s historic buildings were demolished with little concern for the past.

Many would agree there is a sense of cultural pride and awe, when observing previous generations great architectural achievements.

Visiting popular historical city areas is a recreational activity citizens and tourists find appealing.

Making regular trips with family and friends to a city and that has preserved masterpiece buildings is a traditional event.

Perth’s historic buildings were replaced by, undistinguished, glass and steel skyscrapers.

The demolition of traditional buildings would have been worse, but for the foresight of Perth citizens, that had the vision to preserve some historical areas. In stark contrast to the politicians that allowed Perth’s classical buildings to be demolished. Museum of Perth executive Reece Harley points out:

“It’s thanks to the thousands of West Australians who have fought to save Perth’s history over the years — that much of what we have remains.”

The photo below is of the AMP Chamber, Corner of St Georges Terrace and William Street. Built 1915. Demolished 1972.

Cultural heritage.

An excellent summation of Cultural heritage: “the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes that society inherited from past generations. Physical artifacts include works of art, literature, music, archaeological and historical artifacts, as well as buildings, monuments, and historic places. Intangible attributes comprise social customs, traditions, and practices often grounded in spiritual beliefs, aesthetic, and oral traditions’’.

The value of historical buildings to citizens and their country was also recognised over 70 years ago by British war time leader Winston Churchill, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us,” mused Winston Churchill in 1943. Whilst considering the repair of the bomb-ravaged House of Commons.

Traditional architecture versus brutalist buildings.

In 2020 the USA government proposed an executive order titled, “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture,”. This was supported by the American National Civic Art Society  who are critics of  modernist brutalist structures.

See photo below, the FBI building in DC Washington a brutalist style of architecture which USA Senator Mike Lee described as looking like “an abandoned set from The Hunger Games.”

Maybe West Australia’s planners and architects should rethink their preference for glass and steel skyscrapers and brutalist architecture?

For example, interesting new research findings in neuroscience and psychology found that people are strongly affected by buildings. If the façade is interesting, it affects people in a positive way; negatively if it is monotonous. 

The FBI building in downtown Washington, D.C.

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