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Quarter Acre Block

edited August 2008 in architecture
= 4046.8564224 square metres, so why do 'we' use that expression for a suburban block?
My father's block in a generous 50s subdivision in Northern Tasmania was about 1500 squ m. And mine, an old leftover block in a 30s subdivision was 770 squ. m.
A suburban block these days would be lucky to be 500 squ. m.


  • edited 9:35PM
    Methinks that is the area of an acre, so a 1/4 acre would be about 1010 sqm. Wikipedia agrees with me, and so does my vintage BHP Referee (they used to give those beautiful little books away). It's still huge, my place is all of 40sqm, or 1/100ths of an acre.
    Thinking back all the way into the 1970s and '80s, most of my ilk lived on 1/4 blocks with huge front and back yards and smallish houses, all to the same plan: L-shaped living/dining/kitchen, hallway off to the laundry and three bedrooms. Somehow all this fit into 70 square metres.
  • edited 9:35PM
    Peter, the BHP referee is now called  Lysaghts Referee and you can still get is free by calling a 1800 number available from their website. Unfortunately, you have to call the number before a certain date or you miss out until next year! Bizarre but true. If I find the phone number in my pathetic notes i'll post it.
    Robin Boyds , "Australia's Home" has an explanation of the origin of the 1/4 acre block early in the text but I can't quite remember where and haven't the time to look myself.
  • edited August 2008
    Ooops sorry! I was directly transposing and forgot to do the divide.
    Anyway my question stands.
    Peter? 40 squ. m?! I would not have a place to put my collection of Murcutt books ;-)
  • edited 9:35PM
    Mark quote  "4046.8564224 square metres, so why do 'we' use that expression for a suburban block?"
    Simon quote. "Robin Boyds , "Australia's Home" has an explanation of the origin of the 1/4 acre block early in the text but I can't quite remember where and haven't the time to look myself."
    Mark quote "Anyway my question stands."
    Simon statement.  Now don't be lazy, Your question still stands because you haven't yet looked in Mr Boyd's book, or did you want want of us to do your assignment for you.
  • edited August 2008
    My Boyds are in storage with my Drews and Prince Charles' (Jencks that is).
    I'm not actually looking for an explanation of definition, I'm asking (an unanswerable question probably) why the term is still used by professionals and the media.
    I'm well out of assignments. I think they stopped in 1982 when I told them to shove it up .............
  • edited August 2008
    Haha Mark. Can well understand.  I just did an assignment where we had to do a spectacular full revit internal render of a bloody lift car. I handed in a full elevation in wire frame which I then hand rendered using colour pencils of a North Queensland forest scene painted onto toughened glass on ceilings and walls. The floor buttons I specified as green tree frogs preserved in resin running up one tree trunk and the door has a cassawory that 'runs' as the door shuts and opens. the ceiling is a back lit sunspalsh pouring through the forest canopy.  I hate assignment and I hate boring lift cars
    I'll find a spare moment to find the Boyd quote as i remember it was illuminating.
    In attempted answer to your question, the term "quarter acre block" is still used because it refers to a pained nostaligia for a practically limitless portioning out to the lucky inhabitants of a piece of this wide brown land. It's a nostalgia couched in an ostensibly proletarian and agricultural utopian ideal that has as its core the dispossesion of the first australians under the formerly legally gazetted notion of Terra Nullius.
    That is, "it's free to take so let's be generous and give everyone (who counts in the census) enough land to support themselves." At first the portioning was in hundreds of acres but when this was soon realised to be unsustainable it was reduced over the years down to a quarter acre until the time when the nation agreed that the first australians perhaps should be counted in the census (1967). Add infinitum until now when we still find it is unsustainable together with the belated acknowlegement that it wasn't free and it wasn't generous to give it away like that and it actually might never have been sustainable in the first place. Hence the pained nostalgia which directly and most succesfully appeals to those who think the first australians still don't really count, especially those who think, "haven't we killed them all anyway ?!" and then whack up a dirty great McMansion as if to prove the point.
    Short and sweet, 'quarter acre block' is a colonial affectation and what should you do about that when we are already past the post post colonial stage of our history?
  • edited 9:35PM
    mr seasons. who is teaching you history? i think boyd and murcutt are one thing. how come you havent got into seidler yet? do they mention harry in architecture school in sydney? just as an aside.

    has anyone been following the debate re architectural education that has been raving in architecture australia lately? amazing. follow the letters back a few issues.... its hilarious. but frightening.

    what about wooley? sid ancher? what about neville gruzman? or ultimately hugh buhurich. he deserves more respect than grumpy glenn.
  • edited August 2008
    I've had an interest in history for some 25 years. It's all connected intimately with architecture and I enjoy that aspect quite a lot. Harry Seidler intrigues me but mainly for the way he forced architecture into the public phyche of Sydney years before Kovac and DCM et all did in Melbourne. I admire a minimum of that 'Style' driven architecture but I do admire the frisson created and certainly the market currents generated, that I believe tends to ripple outward from the bright egotistical adventurers who I suspect might make the job easier for the rest of us who are trying to produce 'real' architecture. Witness the profusion of architectural journalism and periodicals these days that has to find content once publishing has begun and who can't just run endless repeats of the same few bright new 'Wonkytechs'.  Seidlers architecture holds more longevity and authenticity than Wonkytechture I think, but that doesn't mean that wonkytechture doesn't have a validity of its own and might actually makes it easier for real architecture to claim a place in the publics eye.
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