I’m no expert on architecture, but from what I can gather, there are a couple of schools of thought on what it should be. Basically, there are those who think the best architecture blends seamlessly into the existing landscape, highlighting natural features and heritage elements without intruding for its own sake. Then there are those who see architecture as an art form, with expressive powers akin to sculpture and technological scope on par with aeronautical engineering.
Obviously, there’s a third position, which is that neither of these approaches is inherently better, and which one is more appropriate is to be determined on a case by case basis. That seems like the sensible position to me, but then what do I know? To really have an opinion, I’d have to investigate things such as the ethics of steel suppliers. Melbourne, arguably, could be diverting resources to more important things that statement architecture, so maybe there’s a case for the more reserved approach.
Maybe I could talk to some structural steel fabricators. Within Melbourne, in any case, there’s probably not as much of a distinction between the two polarities as there might be in, say, European cities. I’m sure there are still people who feel strongly on the matter, but it’s not like we’re swarming in Zaha Hadid hotels and Gothic cathedrals around here. Buildings are more like… well, just buildings. We don’t even have a Sydney Opera House.
I guess the people on the ‘go big or go home’ side of the fence might have some feelings about that – namely, that Melbourne should have more statement buildings. That seems understandable, although it’d be a pretty hard thing to demand – like, making those buildings would have to use a huge amount of resources, financial and otherwise.
They’re nice to look at, though. Maybe I’ll just go back to casually perusing coffee table books with pretty pictures of contemporary architecture.