foresthills_square

prefabThis isn’t a neat little town in Bavaria. It’s a hundred-year-old planned community called Forest Gardens in Queens, New York. And those timbered buildings are made from … pre-cast concrete slabs. Have a look at the Slate slideshow of this fantastic bit of retro-visionary town planning – designed with those modern buzzwords, walkability and heterogeneity, in mind.

Walking past some new houses recently, I was wondering why we let some of them go up, and how or if it is possible to achieve any sort of harmony today, without suppression of novelty. Of course the truth is that most housing “design” is mediocre – is, in fact, undesigned, or only designed in the sense of a builder offering some basic plans which are no good to begin with.

When I visited Rockhampton, Qld, my expectations for any kind of urban interest was about as low as a beer mat. So, the great surprise and delight of Rocky’s townscape.

There are quite a few fine late 19th century buildings standing in the city’s southside. But the jewels are the Federation Queenslanders lining the streets all the way from Fitzroy River’s edge and up the hill to the Botanic Gardens. Many of them – in the poorer areas – are pretty shabby, but that they are extant in these numbers is a marvel. How long can this last?! Probably until a big boomtime rolls in, and brings the sharks in its wake.

It is fascinating too, to comare the poorer streets on the flatlands to what our B&B host called the “doctors’ houses” on the hill towards the gardens.

The lowland houses of Rocky
The lowland houses of Rocky
The "doctors' houses" of Rockhampton
The "doctors' houses" of Rockhampton
(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)