Current Issue #488

Blending Two Worlds: Heritage harmony in the suburbs

Blending Two Worlds: Heritage harmony in the suburbs

As Adelaide continues to grow, residential builder Josh Semmler says it is vital we do not lose the unique character of our suburbs.

Much of Adelaide’s heritage debate is centred on protecting public buildings and community assets, which is not surprising given their prominence. But what is often overlooked is the unique character and heritage of so many suburbs across Adelaide.

As Adelaide grows up instead of out, we will continue to see new apartments and town houses pop up right across metropolitan Adelaide. This isn’t a bad thing at all and needs to happen to provide affordable housing and foster population growth however we also need to be careful that we don’t lose the distinct character of our diverse neighbourhoods.

As home builders, we are often tasked with building houses from scratch but the most rewarding – and often painstaking – projects are the restoration of heritage homes. There’s nothing quite like breathing new life into a home that has stood for more than 100 years and ensuring it has all the features and flexibility that a modern family needs.

It is important to remember that heritage provides a critical point of inspiration, if not influence, for the entire design process of a contemporary addition to an existing home. Considered modern design provides great opportunity to compliment an existing streetscape. While inner-southern suburbs like Unley and Parkside are great examples of modern meeting heritage there are plenty more worthy of note. From Semaphore to the Adelaide Hills, there are neighbourhoods everywhere that need to be preserved.

Modern design is not for everyone nor are simplified reproduction homes that diminish the appeal of existing homes. It is the street appeal that attracts people to the suburbs and without well-managed and maintained heritage homes and facades this is at risk of being lost.

There is an embedded value in heritage homes and facades, particularly for aspirational buyers. While the financial cost of upgrading and renovating heritage homes is generally higher, the results can be spectacular.

While apartment living is rightly high on the agenda of all levels of government, owning your own home in the suburbs is still the ultimate dream for many Australians. We need to think about how we can restore our older homes to ensure they are not simply knocked over and replaced with mirror image townhouses. It’s about finding a nice balance.

State and local governments need to work closely with the property sector to ensure a happy medium is struck to foster residential development while also retaining heritage streetscapes.

There is an enormous opportunity for local communities to get involved in shaping the future of their suburbs as well as protecting their past.

Josh Semmler is Director Construction and Development, Urban Habitats


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