Friday, December 24, 2010

1960s Residential Flats - Lessons from the past

There is something very interesting and captivating about post war design and 20th century Modernity in cities.

This photograph highlights a typical 1960s design style, with symmetry at play through the staircase, balustrades, windows and doors, and the mail boxes to the far left.

I like the "gritty" feel of the scene, it looks in some ways like an abandoned site, with what looks like a spill of paint or plaster behind the stairs and the rubbish bins randomly placed.

There are people who dismiss post war 20th century architecture as one big mistake, and sure there have been lessons learnt. But isn't that true of all periods? These flats pictured, and many others like them, are examples of how Architects were well aware of issues that effect cities today, such as population booms and urban sprawl.

A lot of nostalgia for the past (or the good old times - pick a date before 1930) is reflected in the awful urban sprawl in our cities, compounded by many wonderful examples of awful pastiche Victorian and Federation homes. I can see in years to come that people will be seeing the real big mistake of urban sprawl and a tacky excuses for pastiche buildings that don't stand for one thing or another - only a fantasy of what has come before.


  1. Dad once drove from the Canadian Rockies to San Francisco. This picture reminds me of some of the awful motels in America where we stayed! There are also many flats and motels like this at the Gold Coast.
    Don't get upset but you can keep this particular building!

  2. There are many flats and hotels like these not just in the Gold Coast, but all over Australia. Remove them all and you have a big gap in our social and historical history. Think of these places as important to our social and cultural history and not in terms of aesthetics (which is open to another debate!).

    The recently heritage listed pedestrian strip in the United Kingdom that featured on the Beatles cover is a case in point. It's a crossing! - but the socio-cultural history of the site is important.


About the project

Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.

My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires

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