alistair knox : an integrated approach to landscape + architecture


appendix five : eltham vs suburbia

Author: Clair Lee

  1. 'There is a fundamental movement in the hearts of many people to find an alternative to the tidy-tacky and pressed out plastic products that have neither sensuous appeal nor spiritual value.'
    Knox. Living in the environment, pviii

A recurring theme in the writings of Knox is the promotion of the Eltham way of life as an alternative to suburbia. The following table comprises quotes taken from the books that refer to this juxtaposition - the alternative society of Eltham vs. the embalmed society of suburbia.



PAGEELTHAM SOCIETYSUBURBIAPAGE
We are what we stand on
5hand & hearthousebound sherry-drinking loneliness5
5intimacy & separate valleyimmaculately lighted, curbed & paved identity5
5nuances & variations of climatebuildings new, large & expensive5
5bushland surroundinosperpetual bitumen surfaces5
5fluctuating & half-visible scenesvast suburban wilderness5
5human alternativesocial desert5
5glimpsed constantly changing & mergingrich & affluent eastern suburbanites casting sheep's eyes at the unkempt landscape7
6hilly terrain (noble swelling hillside) generated a united introspective community welI-ordered English lawn, blue spruce, silver birch & Japanese maple gardens7
6colour & light landscapeaffluent communities8
6atmospheric subtletydiversion8
7indefinable sense of magicsameness8
7unkempt landscapeanonymity8
7those who understand & believe in Elthamcontinuing assaults from the manipulators & blind do-gooders8
8creative communities create creative lifestylesaffluent communities create dreary lifestyles8
8danger, risk self-indulgence8
8ongoing enthusiasmtotalitarianism8
8eccentricity confused world8
8head, heart & handtechnological systems of construction8
8eccentric peopletotalitarianism8
10'Montsalvat' and the new lifedreary inhibitions & limitations of depressed middle class society10
11new & exciting prospectsstifled society we endured rather than lived in11
10Every new day was a day of new delights and practical freedom.incarcerated in pre-war bank job11
13difference conformity12
20spontaneity of mud brick buildingsunequivocal steadiness14
20flexibility of mud bricks - a modern building materialmiddle-class, amorphous mass14
24not completely finished but then few mud brick, home-built houses ever really areunimaginative & dull population14
32Eltham had a wonderful embracing capacity. We were all one people - rich and poor alike. We all knew each other. There was a clear appreciation of everyone's place in our geographically isolated community.'endlessly repeating, well-curbed bitumened roads, and footpaths that criss-cross precisely at right-angles for apparently limitless distances
35intimate spirityou know exactly what you will see at every corner14
35self-supporting communitypolite Melbourne 14
44changeability of Melb climate - encourages creativitynothing can get out of place or become unkempt and wild14
45Eltham's dry resilient bush - crisp, sparse & survival consciousimmaculately cut nature strips ...lovingly trimmed at the edges with spring shears14
47unique place in Australia - to be cherished & defended at all coststamed nature 14
47inspired by special bushland, low hilly terrain, unparalleled colour & light, no. of treesexotic trees set at meticulous intervals14
47free native tree-plantings on nature stripscautious inhabitants 14
65without pretencealternating prunus & flowering peach trees15
71embryonic houseneat & clean 15
76socio-aesthetic centre of Melbournevery pretty 15
83veil of foliage & environmental continuityrhododendron & gladioli flanked by pampus grass & flowering fruit trees in the desirable eastern suburbs47
83privacy & village intimacySuburban jingoism 65
84mysterious landscape of hill, valley & secret placecurb & channel syndrome 86
86linear parks of mystery & adventure for the young & relaxation & poetry for the old, & shortcut to schools, & a means of communication between members of the community - a form of Radburn development gardening-type do-gooders types86
86mystery of the bushlawns 91
86environmental attitude to the landherbaceous borders 91
91tree planting consisted of the concealment of planting, the creation of instinctive masses and voids merging back into the wildernessnon-indigenous growth 91
94sculptural buildingssuburban formalitv91
101mysterious & powerful landscapesuburban Melbourne matrons winced slightly when they had to mention the word 'Eltham" 113
101an immediate, natural feelinga threat to their sickly-sweet security 113
112secret, carefree daysDoncaster & Templestowe - Toorak of tomorrow113
112wonderfully free from bureaucratic controlsseduced by the money & suburban comfort of Dame Edna Everage & Sandy Stone118
113individualists setting off the a fixed job in the city every day123
113non-conformist characterpressurised city-suburban life 117
113unique quality a general sense of quiet exchangeability137
117non-city lifestyle - a retreat from suburbianeatly cut lawns, bounded by privet and lambertiana hedges, and European trees dominating the verges137
117liberty it offers insularitv137
113artistic dreamtimelow visual standards 139
141a wonderful flowering of talent and ability mindless materialism141

Living in the environment
viiwonder & mysteryconfusion that the perpetual flow of high technology productsvii
viistimulates a point of view & relationship with nature planned obsolescence
viicounteract confusionpander to ... hysteria generated by the advertising media
viimost universal & enduring of all building materialsticky-tacky viii
ixnatural environmentpressed out plastic products that have neither sensuous appeal nor spiritual value ... soon clog & clutterviii
3the greater the experience the greater the ability to decide the proper course & action for each individual jobman-manipulated environment ix
4earth building ... as the most flexible & interesting medium ... for any time or placegenerality of habit that causes normal residential building to become repetitive ad nauseum3
17mysterious bushscape ... half obscured with mists in the morningresidential building - repetitive ad nauseum3
54free from man-imposed details_suburban respectability19
54honest materials & true proportionsindependence through possessions 19
54fundamental (universal)appealprivacy behind paling fences (paling fence psychology) 19
SBreadiness to embrace simple livingstatus type isolation19
58environmental inspirationeastern suburbs - a vast garden competition with wide green lawns & herbaceous borders & exotic shrubs20
59integrated series of simple plantings & land shapeshand lawnmowers move over the tracts of smooth English grass to reduce it to putting-green quality.20
60indivisibility of house and landself-imposed discipline of the garden20
60subtle varietysociety more mobile & more separated
60observation of the surrounding natural countryside modified to accept the intrusion of the housewell-clipped lawns 30
60never using two things where one will doceremonial rakings of leaves into heaps30
64structure identification with the land to give the sense of indivisibilitysmugly regimented rows well-kept suburban plot54
endless flow of new innovations54
technological demagogery 54
over-organised systems 63
noise pollution of city & suburb ... filled with surging swish of automobiles & 24 hour flow on inane gabble from radio & tv63
75express surprise, wonder, originality & personality in the landscape & the communitycorrectly place the street lamps & perpetuate external bitumen roads & concrete gutters75
76nuance & magicvertical & horizontal planes that cannot be inhabited by people at all, but are >exclusively for traffic & commerce 76
76mystery & nostalgiaseas of paling fences 79
134there was a vibrance about the building warts and allstandardisation of the ticky-tacky house design is soul-destroying ... conforming standards79
96sensiblesameness of a city planned by minds who see people as ciphers to be designed into an environment at the rate of_so many to the acre 88
96objectiveclutter of suburbia 96
97simple confidence and modest contentgargantuan brick piles 97
98fitted into the existing tree growthMrs. Everige[sic] society 109
101simple bush landscape buildingmuch less interested in what goes on underneath as long as it looks expensive on to109
a cautious district, full of prim business men109
112alternative societymundane middle class 109
112a new group of pioneers ... are identified with the total landscape in a total living wayfierce competitive lifestyle that exploits the natural creation for the profit of the few to the detriment of the many112
112more liberties of choice and of timethe corporate state is always in a rush and therefore it has no poetry.112
112close relationship with naturehunger for mystery and the beauty of life ... lack the cultural training to attain it112
112watching the earth dry and the varying characteristics of its physical structure, immerse us in poetic deliberations that unites our hearts, heads and hands.excluded the physical 112
112identified with certain building materials that are subject to spiritual dimensionsmerely materialistic society
dreary repetitive suburbs 113
Interminable terracotta tile 114
121it is always stimulating to drive past that bend in the road where that feather of smoke is ascending out of the bush screen.brought up on a diet of red terracotta tiled roofs, brick veneers and paling fences119
121here you belong to a time and a place indefinitely. In fact you yourself are making both that time and that place.they dream of wall to wall carpets. They eat white bread, drink imitation fruit cordial drinks120
121'do it yourself' universityramifications of the corporate state and the blindness of so-called advanced society120
123adventurous and liberty seekersembalmed community 123
123fearless urchins of the alternative society have sung and dancedpale faced students and sons of the rich have languished in university ghettos123
preoccupation with the means of financial manipulations that keep the moneyed class uppermost123
124sense of mystery and power and wonder and nostalgia and magic that the natural landscape givesthe perpetual smog of their well controlled activities pours its blanket of sulphur dioxide carbon monoxide, carbonblack and all the other by-products of the present GNP scene over city and suburb indiscriminately124
124natural society is designed to do precisely the oppositegreedy self-centred living habits where one stays inside all day and outside all night124
126ancient bushlandsuburban habitats that have become overcrowded and polluted126
128environmental living is not opting out of, but re-embracing real life.
129environmental building primarily sculptured building that utters a poetic concept for life
129natural foods, home made breads, vegetables and the whole gamut of the return to a sane life style
bread made from stone ground wholemeal flour makes a meal that doesn't distend our stomachs yet satisfies our hungersliced wrapped white breed from the huge bakeries leaves our appetite unsatisfied, our stomachs distended and our livers angry.129
130conflict between a progressive and a primitive life style that is a refreshing contrastmost of the Australian suburbanism and the embalmed society130
130genuine seeking after a worthwhile life styleunfortunate physical planning to make life unimaginative and repetitive in the city130
the tragedy of the embalmed society133
133welcome to the community schoolgoodbye to the elitist school system133
136Ivan Illich 's voluntary poverty philosophythat group known as physical planners ... their freeways and corporate state psychologies136
136humble mud brick ... catalyst to stimulate co-operative livingcompetitive destruction136

Alternative housing
9the most creative local community in Austlarge, uninteresting suburban deserts26
18natural buildinga form of quiet, uneventful Journeying from the cradle to the grave28
29those who took the risk and got outthose who funked out and stayed in their jobs 29
33felt to be hillbilly and second-ratenatural qualities were regarded by the suburban psyche as a hindrance33
32mysterious bushscapeshipped tile roof, set twenty-five foot from the frontage ... repeated through whole suburbs with religious fervour33
33open hillsides have been turned back into dense bushscapes ... scarcely a hilltop dominated by a buildingeasy-growing lawns and beds of snapdragons and petunias33
34those who have become hooked on the Australian flora and find themselves getting deeper into its wonders and mysteries every yearimported flavours34
38pick-up societythrow-away society38
49radiates a human qualitywhat a city building cannot do49
52simple lifestylefruitless money game52
Melbourne, one of the largest and most banal middle-class areas in the world64
73alternative lifestyleSouth Burnley ... freeway ghetto65
81naturalthe false civilisation which so many Australians have been 'duped' into73
81pleasant landscapebuilding bigger and more blatant houses which, from a distance, seemed to coagulate and blend into a great open sore exposed on the dying body of the countryside81
81mild pink colour and light of the Yarra Valley bushland, with the backdrop of the dark blue Dandenongs beyond ugly square form of red bricks81
83sound construction and an economical use of materials under the control of ordinary peoplethe materialistic empire of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, who cling to their possessions as if they believe they can save them from death itself.95
104It depends on the development of the existing native growth ... There would be no place for the herbaceous border and the hardy annuals - not to mention the blue spruce and the Japanese maple.enclosing front fence and high side and back fences that attempt to isolate each family from the next door neighbours99
106the proposed dam was placed so that the water could be seen through the native grevilleas from the house ... We then ... located several shallow water-holding pools around the house site and the pergolas.the private pool is ... closer to the refrigerator and the alcoholic drinks that can be elegantly dispensed from the cabana. This fashionable institution also doubles as a repository for the exercising bicycle, the dumb-bells and the spring-loaded muscle developers100
106the building could extend out in any and every direction once it went beyond the outer walls of the original square shape ... such a structure would require pergola posts and overhead connecting members, which would pass through and around tree clumps and over the water garden. Such a structure however would unite the house and the land into an indestructible whole.the mandatory postage stamp allotment is divided into the front garden, the house and the rear garden. The resultant areas are fitted out by immaculately cut lawns not more than one inch high, neatly trimmed at the concrete edges with a special circular cutter.101
140the whole mud-brick building process is a grand adventure that leads into a fuller and more interesting life.fetid glass-house atmosphere of suburbia, with all of its excessive protectiveness and self-centred affluence122
148the finished character of walls treated in this manner will vary from building to building and reflect the character of those who have built it. It becomes a concrete expression of how they think and feel.heavily-featured manufacturing bricks and expensive, dressed timbers of minimum dimensions that prevail in the suburban scene148
148-149Mud-brick buildings have strong community elements in them. They respond to people, and embrace widely varying personalities with ease and grace when they remain unaffected and naturalfeature bricks. walls, timbers, plastics ... appeal to the unthinking individual who wants to be one step ahead of the Jones'. It all makes for an ego trip that divides us from each other and develops excruciating bad taste in architecture.148


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