One of the areas that my Master of Architecture history/theory course, Popular Architecture and Design, which I teach at the University of Melbourne, looks at is “everyday architecture”.
In previous years the students who did this course have researched kebab shops in Melbourne (2011), launderettes in Melbourne (2012) and painted garage doors in Melbourne (2013).
This year (2014), the students researched barber shops in Melbourne. Working mostly in pairs, they were asked to choose a barber shop and record the following basic information about it:
• The name and address of the barbershop.
• A plan of the barbershop, including the fittings and furniture.
• At least one photograph of the front of the barbershop.
• At least one photograph of each of the rear and sides of the barber shop (where accessible).
• At least four photographs of the interior of the barbershop.
• Photographs of any advertising (awning signs, window signs, 3D signs, etc.).
• A brief description of the barbershop.
• A brief interview with the owner/manager and/or one or more customer(s).
Barber Shops in Melbourne: An Architectural Survey contains the above data exactly as the students gave it to me—errors and all. To be able to see 50 barber shops at a glance and compare their similarities and differences based on exactly the same information is this book’s main value in my view.
Judging from the students’ research, many barber shops in Melbourne are very quirky, highly masculine places. Those that have the barber’s personal collection of football memorabilia, or foreign currency, or knickknacks, or photographs, or whatever on display in the barber shop are the ones that fascinate me the most.