At Last A Curse Descends On The Houses Of Tuscany
Sydney Morning Herald
Monday July 5, 2004
A city can only handle so many Tuscan courtyards, lion-headed fountains, weathered patinas and terracotta tiles. It appears we have overdosed on all things Tuscan when it comes to architecture, with former fans and critics of the style agreeing that it's time in the sun is drawing to a close."We hope Tuscan's over. You can quote me on that," said Tim Redway, marketing manager of home builders A.V.Jennings. The company removed the style from display in 2002 though some home builders continue to market the squarish, eaveless homes. "It was popular when it came out," Mr Redway said. "Everybody wanted it. A lot of builders didn't replicate the portico in a Tuscan style. They went for cheaper and cheaper renditions." A whole industry emerged to satisfy the city's desire for this faux-earthiness. At big hardware shops it is possible to choose roof tiles in Tuscan white, Tuscan straw or Florentine limestone.The trend even extended to baby names. Since 1995 there have been 21 babies named Tuscan, Tuscani or Tuscany, according to the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The Tuscan town of Siena has also proved inspirational for new parents, with 151 Sienas and 415 Siennas born in the same period.Architects have long criticised the style, which first gained popularity in Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Warren Kerr, president of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, said the profession had no regrets about the decline of the Tuscan menace, noting it was "designed for climatic conditions which are quite different and quite remote from the Australian landscape". During the Year of the Built Environment, the institute promoted the benefits of proper solar orientation, energy efficiency and sustainable design, and Mr Kerr criticised styles copied from other countries without considering these factors.While Tuscan villas were built for country settings, Australian suburbia swallowed the style voraciously. Tuscan is not the only style on Mr Kerr's hit list. "There was a trend we went through with Cape Cod that had an image of snow-covered mountains, and we went through a flirtation with French provincial."The trend now was for new homes to have a retro 1960s feel, Mr Redway said."It's got sharper, cleaner lines, rendered facades and finishes, and lower roof pitches."