ISSUE 20_ON SPRINGVALE _BY KELVIN URBINA _SUBJECTS_ #SPRINGVALE . DEAR ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL... Memory of Springvale is accompanied by maniacal laughter in my head. Trying to grasp the essence of the south-eastern suburb of Springvale is like dancing with a mop; not pretty but strangely satisfying. Springvale has the most charming open water drains, on Sunday mornings there is often a relentless buzzing from the car races at Sandown Park and on humid days if your lucky and the wind is just right, a fragrant smell from the old rubbish tip rolls through the town. There were inevitable adventures and misadventures that growing up in Springvale occasioned. There were the chromers in the park that had to be circumnavigated in order to get to the playground or there was the fortune of finding 5 cents in the alleyway behind the smash repair place. One particular highlight was the week that the garbage collectors went on strike and shoppers at the center had to trek, shin-deep, through plastic bags. Then, of course, there is the guy who dresses like a cowboy (hat and all) and walks up and down the main road and another who dons a beanie, khaki coloured polo tops and pants and is known to rant. For a brief period of time there was that guy who would stand outside the bank and ask for 50 cents, he would then scoff at your coin but take it anyway. I miss that guy. Every suburb has that one totem that embodies the spirit of the area, and for Springvale it is the greying corrugated iron tower thatlooms over the railway track and coincidentally marks the centre of the district. It is something straight out of the industrial revolution era; a confused time-traveller. It has been there for as long as living memory serves and no one seems to know what it is used for; its ugliness surpassed by its mysteriousness. Over the years imagination has given it a variety of guises. For the child it was a ruinous castle completed with collapse timber staircase and in my teens it was a drug lab. Now, in the insensitivity of adulthood it is invisible on alternate days. For Springvale it marks where the sun sets and at sunrise it glows as if the walls were made of white feathers. At night it just broods eerily and seems to chuckle at the shadows. A view between two brick flats a few streets away captures a majestic quality, almost cocky, that it will outlast the town itself. The building captures the soul of Springvale not just because of its dagginess but it represents a cheeky spirit in the face of change. The suburb itself is changing, the powers be envision a new Springvale - flashy and live-able. A makeover is in progress and consequently a reconditioning of the Genius Loci. This corrugated iron building however, like the personalities that inhabit Springvale; like the cowboy and the misadventures, symbolizes that undefined insanity that keeps the place alive. And although it may someday be a given a new suit to wear, that enigmatic building’s existence to this day is reassuring that you cannot fully kill the daggy. . . .