“It smells nicer over here”, I thought to myself as I made my way to the Harold Reid Reserve. Harold, by the way was the Town Clerk of Willoughby Council from the mid 50s to the mid 60s.
A few weeks ago I booked myself on a walking tour of Middle Cove run by the Australian Architecture Association. Middle Cove is quite an interesting place, as it was part of the original land purchase by Sir Walter Burley Griffin which included Castlecrag and Castlecove. In common with those other areas, the roads follow the contour of the landscape, but you also see a lot of the influence of architects like Neville Gruzman, Bruce Rickard and Sydney Ancher. There were lots of others mentioned on the tour, though they weren’t names which instantly sprung to mind.
Our tour guide, Ben Gerstel is a local architect, and we even got to see some work he did which he was very proud of, I think. “So you have an interest in architecture?”, he asked me at one point. He also seemed interested that I’d come all the way from Surry Hills. He was a nice man who even gave me a lift back to the bus-stop after the tour’s conclusion. Also on the tour was a 30-ish couple (three kids under four) who were planning to move back to Queensland and to build their iwb home. It was interesting to see how closely they were looking at various design elements. I also had a brief chat with a woman who told me she scours the weekend papers for houses with interesting designs. She told me she and her husband will go to visit houses, especially modernist designs, simply because they’re interested in architecture and design.
It was a really interesting tour for lots of reasons. I found the varying sizes of the blocks of land very interesting. There were occasions were houses were very close together, hopefully leading to a great sense of community. You could see it in the number of streets which had basketball hoops actually on the street. It was interesting to see how “in tune” so many of the houses were with their environment. That said, there were some houses which I thought were extremely ugly. “It looks like a 1960s public school”, I joked about one house, only to discover it was an important early work for an architect who was influenced by Japanese design. Silly me.