I have worked on and off in Subiaco for the past eighteen years. For most of the working days of those years I have caught the train to Subi and walked it’s streets throughout the day. This gives a bit of a different perspective than driving in and driving out.
Walking a city’s footsteps lets you see it’s hidden spaces, its minutiae of living and it’s people. This city is changing. From cafes, high-end shopping, bookstores and markets, the city is now slowly dying, and it’s so sad to see.
When I first started working in Subi I would walk up Rokeby Road exploring the city as it started its day. Young students and parents milling around the bakery as it took school lunch orders. People sitting on the park at the train station eating lunch, and in the evenings, listening to live music. (Before the office buildings were built this was a lovely public space.)
Now instead of a main street of fashion houses, mixed markets and cafes, Subiaco has closed-faced banks and a Target mini-mall. These changes from public shopping areas to insular personal activities has changed so much more than just the built fabric, it has changed the whole atmosphere.
But of course there are still the lovely pockets of beautiful old houses. I tried most lunch times to get out of the office and just walk around the streets, to get that fresh air and soak up (hopefully!) some sun. There are some really stunning old homes in the area, and also some very well done extensions and new developments by some of our great emerging architecture firms. It’s good to see this investment in the area and I hope the public realm follows this lead.
And this may sound morbid, but I learnt a lot from the past eight years working opposite a funeral home. A funeral home with the most beautiful copper, timber and tiled detailing I’ve seen. Often we would see groups gathered outside, waiting to farewell a loved one. Of course this is a sad event but it’s also a time for connections, sharing stories, and understanding each other just a little bit more. And that’s what we’re all here for anyway, right?
I know development must happen, changes help us all improve, and perhaps we all have a tendency to romanticise the past… But I would really love to see Subiaco get back on its feet as a public city, where people come together to celebrate life and all the moments in-between. I will miss my daily walks through Subi, but I look forward to returning on visits and seeing how things are changing..