Walking around Adelaide’s CBD with Ari has enabled me to see that urban design in Adelaide, since the 1960s, has been structured around keep the car happy.
Its been about suburban sprawl, traffic efficiency and parking spaces rather than public spaces for people to gather. The assumed model of urban design is the old modernist one— modern cities are about high-rises and good windy spaces rather than being about the human lives lived within the city.
It was only liveable because it was small or compact and so avoided the congestion of Sydney. The recent shift is towards densifying Adelaide around the core infrastructure, transport hubs and a diversity of income groups in the CBD. Continue reading “making cities liveable”
It was another Friday night with Suzanne and Maleko going to puppy pre-school at Regency Park and Ari and I filling in time by walking the South Rd Superway for an hour or so. We started out on the A13 from the South Rd/Grand Junction Rd corner and continued walking west for 25 minutes.
It was bright and sunny at 6.30 pm and, fortunately for us, most of the traffic was moving on the elevated roadway. So I was able to scope the urbanscape underneath. I didn’t really know what to expect. All I had in mind were some possibilities for a 5×7 large format photoshoot from the brief previous scouting. So we wandered.
Australia is commonly seen as the one country that managed to avoid the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2007-8. But the effects of the GFC can be seen in Adelaide as you walk around the city and see the numerous holes in the ground in the CBD.
These are the traces of developments –urban renewal–that came crashing to a halt because the finance from the banks for development dried up post GFC. 6 years on and most of the CBD’s holes in the ground remain. Maybe the holes in the ground keep changing hands as they are bought and sold, plans are drawn up, approval is granted, but then fail to get off the ground because it is difficult to get the necessary finance.
Most of the development that is taking place is apartments with only the odd office building being constructed. In the above case in King William St in the City South precinct the proposed 28 storey development is called VUE on King William designed by Woods Bagot and developed by the Asian Pacific Group.
It is heralded as a new residential benchmark in Adelaide and it is designed to attract empty nesters planning to move into the city from the suburbs and young professionals. The finance will come if 70% of the building is sold pre-plan. So we will see what happens.
As Ari and I walk around Adelaide’s CBD I am acutely aware that Adelaide, and South Australia, is in a slump due to the decline of manufacturing and the end of car manufacturing in particular. The old industrial age is coming to an end. So what replaces it? What are the new drivers of economic growth. What can Adelaide do to reinvent itself, and prevent itself from becoming a rust bucket state? There doesn’t seem to many realistic options.
Many in government circles say mining. Or defence? Or high tech manufacturing. Or bioscience. Or education. Or agriculture. Rarely do they say the creative economy. The latter is a joke to Treasury and Big Business still beholden to their resource based and industrial cargo cults and frozen in the resource-trade mindset. The creative economy is art and design and that’s not business or the economy.
What they don’t seem to get is that the current derelict industrial complexes and buildings could be filled with hip restaurants, shops, design studios and galleries created by innovative locals and frequented by design-savvy tourists.
Ari and I wandered around the Flinders Street/Hutt Street/Pirie area. We started out from The Mill in Angas Street where I’d been to see a photographic exhibition about the sea by Che Chorley.
It has been ages since we’ve walked around this area and it has changed. This precinct is being redeveloped and it has become much more residential.
A large section of the precinct is being redeveloped as executive style high rise apartments–known as the Art Apartments in the Flinders precinct. These are being developed by Guava Lime in association with the architects Loucas Zahds. It will be followed by another residential development known as Zen 2.
Adelaide’s city centre is traditionally empty outside of business hours. Suburban malls have lured a lot of retail out of the city, and there are very few people living in the core. It had, and still has, a dull city core.
People are slowly returning to the city centre to live. Will the small bars, that are starting to set up all over the city help to bring people back to the city as they did in Melbourne? Will a fine-grain laneway culture develop in Adelaide as it did in Melbourne?
The household has been based at Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor for the last week or so whilst Suzanne is on holidays. We’ve been making the occasional trip to Adelaide. It’s a reversal of what we normally do, and a precursor of what will happen when we sell the townhouse and shift to Encounter Bay in 2015. We’ve been living in the CBD for 10 years or more and it is time to shift to a different mode of life.
So the poodle walks in the CBD have been limited.
We are leaving at a time when the area around Sturt St/King William St is starting to be redeveloped with new office blocks and a high rise apartments. The city is finally starting to look different.
As Ari and I wander around the CBD I cannot help but noticing how lively the city of Adelaide is becoming as a result of the state Labor government and the Adelaide City Council’s attempts to make the CBD a more vibrant place to live.
So it is with some dismay that I read the two Liberal candidates for Lord Mayor–Mark Hamilton and Michael Henningsen— are intent on rolling back the gains because we have lost our pride in Adelaide.
Between them these two candidates want more cars in the city; they want to do away with bike and bus lanes; they are opposed to high rise apartments; see the attempts to make the CBD a more vibrant place (eg., the upgrade to Victoria Square) as flawed and self-indulgent; and they want to return council to refocus on repairing the streets i.e. to focus on the traditional roads, rates and rubbish.
On Sunday mornings when we are in Adelaide Ari and I generally walk the CBD. It’s reasonably quiet and safe to wander the streets and this allows me to concentrate on photographic scoping with my digital camera.
This particular building–Sir Samuel Way Building, which was formerly Moore’s Department Store –is at the end of the street in which we live. It fronts onto Victoria Square and it was transformed from a department store into a comprehensive law courts building in the early 1980s.
Whilst walking the streets that morning I kept on thinking how the photographic culture has changed as a result of the digital revolution. Its not just the steady improvement in digital cameras or the existence of community-based photo sites like Flickr; it is also the emergence of online galleries and photography magazines, such as Refractions which are sifting and winnowing the published work that is a core part of the culture of 21st century image-making.
Columns of warm air continue to move across southern Australia, whilst a slow-moving high-pressure system means that the hot conditions are expected to be stable over much of south-eastern Australia for another week.
We are midway through a long heatwave in Adelaide with no relief (tempertures below 30 degrees) expected until Thursday of next week.
The earth in the parklands is cracking badly, from the lack of moisture and the prolonged heat.
Even though we were walking through the patches of shade made by the trees it was too hot for the poodles on the lunchtime walk in the parklands today.They walked so far, then turned around and headed back to the car.