I was with friends, soaking up the sun and ambiance in the Speights Ale House garden yesterday. One of the things I was really loving was the view up the big brick wall at the back to the gorgeous old buildings above it and I was struck by the sudden realisation that they are, in fact, the backs and tops of the block that the council has just bought for redevelopment.
They feature Timaru red bricks as well as Timaru Bluestone, both locally produced and celebrated building materials of the region. They present an interesting view to look at and add a picturesque backdrop to the public area we were sitting in. Once these old buildings were brand spanking new, smart shops, working offices, family businesses.
A town is made up of layers, a bit like an onion really, start peeling and you find another layer, go deeper again there is another layer still, each revealing the secret pasts, character and histories beneath and the variations of colour and texture within.
The charm of the old or the efficiency of the modern. How you could manage the two? Can there could be room for both?
I notice people are instinctively drawn to the older more historic areas of a town or city, the rustic appeal suits our human nature, it is relaxing and feels settled and these areas can be so much more interesting and beautiful when compared with the stark modernity of a newer development.
Exciting modern architecture can add to the mix as well but developments in small towns tend to be fairly plain, functional and utilitarian, designed and constructed within the constraints of tight budgets. Generally constructed of concrete slab which makes for an efficient build but often lacking in character or depth.
We have many examples of this throughout our town including our supermarkets and big box retailers and the business’s scattered along Hilton Highway. Do we need them in the precious centre of our town as well? Functional yes but generally not places to linger and enjoy.
Surely there is room for both, appropriate development in the appropriate space.
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