Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Feature Garages

The other day I was walking around the 'hood with Milly the dog, pausing to let her sniff each tree for her boy buddies' scents or try her luck at finding a dead bird under the leaves when this scene of devastation and demolition faced us.

The house next door to it is a fairly good replica of the house they were knocking down: a solid brick, 1940s-style house that was in good condition, on a quarter acre block with the original groovy wooden windows and sandstone frontage.

It was certainly in much better nick that the (older) and much-less respected house further up our street:

This place is infamous in ~ahem~ 'my parts' for an owner seldom seen but who clearly adores old Ford Lazer cars. At one stage he had five bodies of varying condition in the front garden, and the bush to the left of the picture also housed about 40 chickens. People who live either side of him have described him as being about as cheerful as a hillbilly with a hangover so it's a perfect case of the home suiting the owner.

There are only two car bodies now (the other is at the head of the driveway), but the 'look of love' is maintained via the backblocks fence, the wood placed where some glass in the window should be and a verandah so cracked it groans when it rains. As such, no-one will cry when Mr Chuckle Trousers finally sells up and the place gets knocked down.

But what will replace it, or the 65 year old sandstone around the block? Another interminable brick-venereal with a feature garage? Or worse, three of them crammed together and enticingly advertised as 'Low Maintenance City-Fringe Courthard Homes for the Busy Career Couple'?

Having a gander in my stolen copy of Adelaide Matters didn't do anything to assuage my fears:

Have a gander at this little pearl. Dontcha love the flat roof and no eaves, except above the two upstairs windows so that the end result is a house that looks rather astonished at its own ugliness? Payneham or Painham?

No verandah for shelter from the sun or rain and air-conditioning required all year round. Add a thin layer of cement render that will:
a) crack within six months; and
b) require the poor owner to repaint the entire outside of their house every couple of years...
and voila! Dream home worth knocking over a WWII classic for! A bright blue door reminiscent of council flats via TV's the Bill just adds to the aura of success and style. Grrrrrr.......

Even nobby old Burnside is falling victim to the Feature Garage folly. But wait - there's a two storey box stuck on the back so that humans can live in the house's arse-end and the car resides at the front! Lovely.

But hey, at least this one has a verandah, albeit a tiny cage-like vestibule. But it doesn't have any eaves on the front windows or on the back air slits. No green stars for this design. Grrr grrr *snarl* grrrrr...

Now What. The. F**k. Is. This. Unlike the Burnside bunker directly above, this joint doesn't even bother with any front rooms or windows, it's all garages - nay two garages. Oh and a little door hidden under a welcoming gas-chamber installation.

So they drive their two petrol guzzlers off the road and straight into their custom-built hangars, and when safely installed, they continue to wend their deluded way through the small intestines of the building to the rectum at the back for living in. Ni-i-i-i-i-ce.

This design'll stand the test of time won't it? I'm sure it will be standing for far longer than the WWII home that got smacked flat last week..... Think of the generations of children that will be raised here - "Mummy mummy what's that noise?" "Shut up and polish the cars kid, looking out at the world outside aint for the likes of you"..... Puts a whole new meaning on neighbourhood gossips twitching their net curtains - they'd need a mighty quiet garage door remote to get their fix of scandal these days.

So economists tell us we have a severe housing shortage and that people are erecting whatever they can afford at the cheapest price. Fair enough but the houses I'm seeing are in city-fringe suburbs that aren't being paid for by first home-buyers or low income earners. These shockers are being bought and sold by people earning good wages and usually driving two cars. How many of these butt ugly buildings house at least one 4WD whose only off-road action is when Mum overruns the kerb at footy training?!! Grrrr, grrr, *snarl*, grrr, chomp...grrrr.....

The only thing that cheered me up about the demolition was the graffiti painted on the side of the dozer - You Suck. Yes, you do. I hope that all the greedy renovators end up living in a Feature Mock Georgian Garage Box themselves with faulty air-conditioning and a family of narcoleptic snorers, throat-clearers and fast-track farters that can be heard all-too-distinctly through the wafer thin veneer walls...


eleanor bloom said...

Darn good rant!
I feel the same way when I see houses with character go smash.

Our first house when I was a kid was built around the 40s or 50s. It was awesome. Was a good sized block with a wonderful meandering back yard good for adventures.
The next owners after us paved and cemented the entire back yard.
The owners after them demolished the lot and built a garage with a large house attached. So large they're practically their own neighbour and they have no back yard or front. Oh what great moronity!!! (yes, I just made that up).

myninjacockle said...

Couldn't agree more Kath. We watched Juno a while ago and I loved the way the film played with home as an extension of personality.

Though I do quitely dream of a house where everything works.

Our house has a whole heap of personality. Sigh.

River said...

I agree, those houses are fugly. They remind me of a song I used to hear as a kid. Not sure anymore exactly how it went, something about ...little boxes on a hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky,.....and they all look just the same.....there's a pink one and a green one and a blue one and a yellow one and they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.....I'm going to google that now because it's bugging me that I can't remember it.

Homo J. Sapien said...

Yup. Just had two ole 50's brick veneers disappearded on my street to make way for a couple of large concrete boxes with the obligatory square metre of tan bark, smallish overheated swimming pool and a master bedroom which happens to be occupied by a impeccably clean black BMW. Wouldn't want it to grease the sheets I suppose.

Or are we just getting old?

Nahh. The owners are probably not much older than me. People like us(?)* must just be romantic, yearning for the character of ye olde stylie. Architecture wise. Everything thing else about the past is a bit dodgy.

*Needs clarification

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Thank you everyone for your comments!

The Mommy--you're the first one that's ever commented on the daily trivia. Thanks!

Sheila, Thanks! Buffy was an awesome dog. Your response alone made this post worthwhile.

Kath, thanks for the kind words, they're much appreciated. I usually vote for your blog as well. Nice *ss-kicking you handed me! You should try whitewater rafting...there are rivers and experiences out there for any kind of comfort level--not all whitewater is white-knuckled death-defying adventure.

Mrs. Mecomber, I agree, the photo is spectacular. Just email me at msurdan@aol.com.

Tink, Olivia and Karen were great friends, Olivia did a lot of covers in the 70s before Grease, and Karen used to sing a lot of her songs as well...all were rare, and usually only performed live.

Mariuca, thanks so much for the kind words. Buffy was our childhood dog. She was absolutely amazing.

Matt, thanks for the comments and encouragement....was feeling a little mushy yesterday. Time to get back to the dark and "manly" side with today's post.

Thanks again, everyone!

Baino said...

I was walking my own doggy on Sunday over the back and despite the rural looking photos, we're surrounded by houses with feature garages. Million dollar mcmansions. What surprised me was the flooring INSIDE the garages, terrazo tile, polished granite, sealed slate . . .all for testy tyres to rest peacefully on! Our Garage is up the back and called a shed. Houses a tractor and STUFF. We just have a carport out the front! Oh, and the first house on our street is being demolished this week to make way for a 15 house development . . .it'll be interesting to see what they put up!

ashleigh said...

I don't much go for those 1940's houses. Dark dumps, many of them.

But the modern feature-garage dog-boxes with no eaves and a 4WD (oops, sorry, SUV) piss me off no end. Horrible, horrible hideous blights on the landscape.

redcap said...

Oh I cannot tell you how I hate The McMansion. Down my beachy way, there are perfectly good houses being knocked over every day to make way for those horrors. And seriously, don't get me started on Newport Quays on the riverbank. I close my eyes as I cross the river because otherwise I see red, I see red, I see red. Grrr.