Recalibrating new suburbia


A few years ago, my partner and I wanted to rebuild our family home in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. I’m talking proper far-northern suburbia. Not Brunswick or Fitzroy, but a terrain complete with industrial badlands and identikit postwar homes that have had only one owner. We wanted to hire a firm of inner-city architects for our new design but soon received a reality check.

“No-one will work out there,” came the warning. “It looks bad on the folio.”

In the end, we hired building designers, who not only respected our budget but also acknowledged the terrain for what it was: a low-cost pathway for new families to enter the housing market. They were glad to show their faces out there and we appreciated their empathy and understated skill.

Since we arrived, through the mysterious forces of gentrification, our area has been transformed (including the sneaky appearance of inner-city architecture types) and I’m left with some questions. Why is it always back-to-front? Why do architects hate the suburbs?

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