I wondered when this day might come: a local government official in Australia is suggesting a set of McMansions less than twenty years go should be protected by a historic preservation district.
Hornsby councillor Bruce Mills is leading a push to have Cannan Close, Cherrybrook, gazetted as a heritage conservation area.
While the cul-de-sac was only developed in the 1990s, Mr Mills said it was already architecturally significant, and brushed aside claims that it was too new to be listed.
“I don’t think anyone turns into Cannan Close who doesn’t let out an involuntary ‘wow’,” Mr Mills said. “The houses are consistent in their look, feel, style and materials, the width of the blocks, even the trees and gardens.
“I know that the Cannan Close dwellings are only 20 or so years old, but what will our grandchildren be debating if we say it’s not old enough
“Under these new planning laws, nothing will survive until it’s 70 years old because nothing is protected.”
The logic here doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable: buildings that are not protected can be altered and/or destroyed. Yet, I imagine people might have two major objections:
1. Historic buildings should be a little more historic than less than 20 years old. This is actually an interesting question: at what point does a community have enough perspective to be able to declare something worth protecting or not? Buildings are not simply protected because they are old; it is often because they exemplify a particular style (even Brutalist structures can be considered for protection) or the community has found them to be worthwhile structures.
2. Some will argue that McMansions should never be historically protected, even if they were much older. One critique of McMansions factors in here: such homes are often not considered to be paragons of architectural style and because they are mass produced, will not age well. Put another way, these homes are not architecturally worth saving.
All together, discussions about historic preservation districts often stir up a lot of discussion as it can pit community interests versus the rights of homeowners. It will be interesting to see if these Australian McMansions do get protected.