Classic architecture in Battery Point, Hobart

Everyone’s an Architect

Nov 13

Many of you use a similar phrase to describe the architectural uniqueness of Hobart. It went something like this: “I heard this is the best-preserved Georgian city in the world.”

We could not verify this, but Bath and a few other English cities do a rather smart job of being Georgian. We were not fact-checking, in these conversations. We were seeking your sources of pride, and you’re enormously proud of your heritage buildings.

There is an element of terrible luck in Hobart’s historic architecture. While other cities tore their beautiful old buildings down, in less enlightened periods of the 20th Century, Hobart often lacked the money to do the wrong thing. We nearly lost Salamanca. We nearly lost Battery Point.

You often talked about Tasmania having an “anti-development” reputation. You have an aversion to change. This is both true and not true. You don’t want change for the sake of change. You want change to preserve and enhance what makes this place special. No one seems to have any trouble with MONA building things. Why? You trust that MONA gets it.

You want investors to reimagine heritage spaces, while respecting them. You want to fill in above-ground parking lots with lovely buildings. You want density in the core of the city, so more people can live and walk and shop and work and eat without getting into a car. You just want it all to fit, to feel right, to feel like Hobart.

The rules should be clear, so we don’t have to fight over each new proposal. Some of the world’s most beautiful modern architecture came out of imaginative people being creative within limits. Even so, you don’t want the rules to be so difficult that they scare ideas away.

One idea that came out of our conversations was a “design committee,” a group of architects and designers who make non-binding recommendations to decision-makers.

How do we create more places for people to live and visit that honours the heritage and “human scale” of Hobart?