Where power belongs to the aggressor, the destruction of one family’s home might be taken as the first embodiment of a genocide
~David Simpson London Review of Books
Every day, quite against my will, I have to drive at work (I know I should bike, but let’s say that I have a 23 months reason to drive). I always park at the same spot at Victoria University and stay a minute regarding three magnificent houses. They are quite beautiful; the details of the balcony, the sparrow that lives in a little hole, the brick work. Surrounded by construction sites of what it will be a nasty new, expensive building, the three houses are part of the architectural oasis in downtown Toronto that is the U of T.
The houses are condemned; a new, nasty, cheap material/expensive-housing upper class condo will be built here. I cannot help but feel sad for these three sisters that are going to be torn apart. If we think of buildings as quasi-living entities, then these triplets will face Capital Punishment. Their crime: Be prime location.
Who lived there? What did they do? How was the city when these magnificent houses were built? How many passions, loves, hate happened there? Did they dress up on Sunday and walked around a very different city?
I was reading some chapters of Robert Bevan‘s The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War. It is interesting to see how many countries are lamenting now the destruction of their heritage buildings during Europe’s wars, while here in America we are willingly and wantonly destroying our own heritage. The pattern repeats and repeats all over the continent.
I just learned that there is a way to protect heritage buildings in Ontario; it is a shame I didn’t know anything before. If there is a group that lobbies to keep our memories alive, please contact me for volunteer work.