“I want architectural excellence and height … I want buildings that inspire Victorians. If this can be done in the right place, and with beauty, then the sky’s the limit.” Matthew Guy, April 2012
Tower Melbourne – approved November 2012
Continuing in the Melbhattan vein… it’s mildly amusing if developers insist on adding cred to their towers of dogboxes by naming them after more considered New York locations. But what if the Minister for Planning was thinking along the same lines. A Manhattan of the South! It appears that he is. In early 2012 he announced a “Grand CBD”, stretching from Richmond to Fishermans Bend. The Herald Sun labelled it a “Manhattan-style” metropolis, and quoted Planning Minister Matthew Guy, who believes height restrictions need to go to, “make Melbourne an icon in terms of Western cities.” To be an icon these days must mean that a city has to be really big.
Some hint that the proposed relaxation of height controls, already relaxed in the ’90s by Premier Jeff Kennett, is aimed more at Chinese investors and developers wanting high density high-rise. The Age recently noted that, “some established Chinese business and political leaders in Melbourne caution against importing an Asian model of super high-rises and shaded city streets, of “ghost towers.” A ghost tower is one in which apartments are bought as an investment, and not occupied – land banking in the sky.
Is an ‘iconic’ Western city what Mr Guy thinks it is? Or is he building what an iconic Western city once was? James Howard Kunstler would think he is out of step. In this podcast (21 minutes in) he reminds us that apartment blocks had their beginnings in Paris and that their New York equivalent was the result of a craze, assisted by elevators, to imitate 19th Century Paris.
“I’m not a champion of towers and skyscrapers, and I tend to think that the really tall building, that is buildings over six or seven stories… that will really turn out to be a phenomenon of our time, of the 20th and early 21st Century, because you really needed a cheap energy economy to make that possible. But I think that the nett effect will be that we are going to end up with an idea of an optimum scale of the city, and it will be under seven storeys.” James Howard Kunstler
There’s more on the energy inefficiency of living in the sky at Fifth Estate.
Reading many of the minister’s press releases about recent tall buildings that he’s approved, you could be forgiven for thinking that he isn’t so much interested in the grand scheme as he is in more immediate objectives such as job creation and attracting investment to Melbourne rather than somewhere else.
This laissez-faire Brusselisation of Melbourne’s core is proceeding at a gung-ho pace. The 70-odd storey Tower Melbourne was approved by the minister in mid-November. No one in the media noticed for a month – perhaps because the ministry’s planning register is rather effective at burying approvals. While the site has no building height restrictions, it does have a plot ratio limit of 12:1. This building is more like 60:1.
Then on the Friday before Christmas, as the citizens of the metropolis shifted their focus to things sandy, Premier Ted Baillieu released Securing Victoria’s Economy: Planning. Building. Delivering. On page 39, he gets to planning. Its aim is deregulation, the removal of red tape and “green tape”. One item among many other eyebrow curlers is the, “making of new criteria for the Minister for Planning to act as the Responsible Authority to approve major developments with the potential to make significant contributions to the economic future of the state”. No details on what that means, but I think I get the gist of it.
“Continuing reform of our planning system to increase opportunity and productivity will maintain this advantage [in economic confidence] and ensure a strong construction sector.” Matthew Guy, November 2012
How his current powers might be expanded is hard to gauge, given that his department is pretty busy as it is. The following large developments have recently gained approval directly from Mr Guy in recent months, in the City of Melbourne alone. This is an incomplete list cobbled together from various online sources. I am imagining City of Melbourne planners sitting at their desks, glumly sharpening pencils while all the action (or vandalism) happens up the road. Maybe they’re reading the planning scheme’s urban design provisions for the central city[ PDF ] and remembering the good old days when they use to mean something.
It isn’t guaranteed that all these approvals means there will be a lot of construction coming our way. Some of these properties will be put back on the market at a higher price, with the permit. Because of the inflated price, the incoming owner needs to increase the number of floors, and so on. The AFR wrote about these phantom buildings in 2011, mentioning the Balston Street development which was again approved last December.
This free-for-all may soon run its course, considering the allegations of croneyism and racketeering at both state and council levels, and the upcoming state elections. But these flats will be well out of the bag by then.
Tower Melbourne (left and middle), Abode 318 (right). Elenberg Fraser
“This is where Melbourne comes of age” Callum Fraser, Tower Melbourne architect
Elenberg Fraser’s elegant Tower Melbourne proposed for Bourke Street has triggered a couple of opinion page articles in The Age that quickly skew off to talk about other things – public housing towers and suburban sprawl, but what about the city itself?
The tower takes advantage of a rule stating that any development over 25,000 square metres tower-melbourne be referred to the state planning minister for approval, not the local council. These developments are are deemed ‘major’, therefore of state significance, no matter what the site area or intended use. It is a crude tool, meaning that there end up being two competing planning strategies for the same area. One is concerned with the macro – jobs and metropolitan density, the other micro – pleasant environments and a consistency of skyline.
The Tower Melbourne site is only 923 sqm, so the tower uses up as much as it can of it. Podiums and setbacks went out with Cona coffee. These devices gave some consideration to the surrounds, especially things like sun and wind. This tower has two shear elevations right on the street, 71 storeys high. Eureka Tower is only 18 storeys higher. Architects accept this now more than they once would have. I remember seeing a late ’70s cartoon by Barry Marshall (DCM) lampooning the design of IM Pei’s Collins Place. It suggested that the tall towers, set at 45 degrees, would cause people to have to walk at a 45 degree lean at a nearby intersection, due to the wind.
A few years ago I sat a Lyons Architecture’s presentation to the AIA jury, they were seeking an urban design award for their BHP tower at the corner of Lonsdale and Russell Streets. I was interested to hear the jury’s questions about the now windblown environment at street level. The council had even had to install wind breaks across the street so that people could sit outside the greek cafes without being blown away. There were no questions about this. Perhaps this was because the jury realised that the volume of the buildings on tight sites is determined by the developer, not the architect. What is the architect to do in such a situation other than to play along, or resign.
I had thought that this was the case with these new towers. That they are the inevitable result of a scarcity of larger sites, and the removal of height limits in the ’90s. But the AFR’s interview [ PDF ] with Shane Rothe set me straight. According to this, it’s an “architect-driven” typology that developers happily came on board with because the small sites are cheap. Advances in structural concrete have also allowed these heights to be reached on small footprints. These new towers are proving popular with Chinese investors.
The towers of the ’70s and ’80s were typically set back from streets with podiums or plazas. They had rear lanes for vehicle entrances. Nowadays the towers are more likely to be residential. They use all of a small site, rather than some of a large site.
Due to the planning minister’s state wide considerations, the urban design concerns relating to these skinny podium-free towers count for little. Other justifications like jobs and density gain prominence. Robert Nelson suggests in his article that if you’re against density, you are automatically for suburban sprawl. “Every time an inner-city development is foiled because of the visceral attachment of residents to low density, Melbourne is forced outward.” Sprawl is more complicated than this, but that’s fodder for another article. This point of view, commonly echoed by developers in planning applications, suggests that all inner-city intensification is a good thing, as it will further activate it, and put a belt on the periphery.
Commentators such as Richard Florida and Edward T. McMahon question this assumption that density is always good, even if it’s a high-rise. McMahon thinks that “Buck Rogers” skylines can be thrilling, but down on the street, they are “often dreadful”.
The problem is that many developers and urban planners have decided that density requires high rises: the taller, the better. To oppose a high-rise building is to run the risk of being labeled a NIMBY, a dumb growth advocate, a Luddite — or worse… Today, density is being pursued as an end in itself, rather than as one means to building better cities. Edward T. McMahon ( citiwire )
McMahon lists a string of cities where high density has been achieved without resorting to towers. A City of Melbourne report ( PDF ) also lists cities like Barcelona and Vancouver, and argues that six to eight storeys are more than enough to achieve, “high density compact cities of the future.” They also note that in these buildings, you can open the windows. Nice touch.
The counter argument, which I’ve read and managed to lose, would seize on that word “future”… Sure we could get a high density city at eight storeys, but that’s a long way off, and complicated by multiple landowners and heritage registered buildings. We can put up a smaller number of tall towers and address the issue quickly.
This does beg the question, what happens to all the neighbours of these towers. Will they run into trouble when they want to rebuild? Fraser believes that good design will get us around that one – everyone can have a view and light if it’s done right. But it isn’t always done right, as recent cases in Southbank and the city illustrate. A tower in Wills Street was recently rejected at VCAT because it would steal daylight from the adjacent residential tower. This is despite the proposed tower ‘sucking in’ in the middle to give a bit of space to the neighbours.
This surge of development in Melbourne’s CBD is largely occurring outside the local planning strategy. We have two planning strategies in use, with quite different aims, and they clash. One looks to Vancouver and Vienna, the other to Shanghai. We are starting to see a different sort of cityscape emerging. A city with many tall and blank concrete boundary walls that you won’t see in the renders.
Anyway, the developers must be pretty confident as they have apparently pre-sold Tower Melbourne. The planning minister is rumoured to be about to approve it, but we’ll have to wait and see. Once a project is “brought in” by the planning minister, transparency disappears. Once he decides one way or the other, there is no way to appeal at VCAT. You’d have better luck enlisting Miley Cyrus to help.
Crikey founder and City of Melbourne candidate Stephen Mayne thinks the Planning Minister’s powers are, “way too extensive”.
If the Minister wants to play God, there should be far more comprehensive public explanations of his interventions. The City of Melbourne has considerable planning expertise yet no power to determine any application greater than 25,000 square metres. This should be changed. Stephen Mayne, 2012 ( PDF LINK )
The minister’s response to complaints isn’t very illuminating. Last month he suggested to News Ltd that people whinging about over-development should move to Adelaide. “Growth in the CBD is where Melburnians expect it and where they want it and it is adding to what is the best CBD for work or play anywhere in Australia.”
There are currently 13,000 apartments either under construction or awaiting approval in central Melbourne. Some of these are listed below.
Adobe 318 55 storeys, Russell Street, Elenberg Fraser
Prima Pearl 67 storeys, Southbank
“33M“http://www.33m.com.au/ 33 level, Mackenzie Street, Elenberg Fraser
36 – 40 La Trobe Street 35 level tower rejected by council in 2012, Elenberg Fraser
Queen & La Trobe Streets, 47 levels
441-447 Elizabeth Street, 50 levels, Peddle Thorp, with the minister.
568 Collins Street, 65 floors.
Phoenix tower, 27 levels
276 Russell Street, 36 levels
Melbourne Star tower , Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne Sky tower , Little Lonsdale Street
48-50 A’Beckett Street, 39 levels
450 Elizabeth Street, Elenberg Fraser, was 55 levels, now 63 levels, with the minister.
410 Elizabeth Street, 51 levels
380 Lonsdale Street, 47 levels, Spowers
399 Bourke Street, 46 levels, Fender Katsalidis
199 William Street, 21 levels
350 William Street, 35 levels
360 William Street, 12 levels
320 Queen Street, 48 levels, with the minister.
272-282 Queen Street, 57 levels
Vision 500 Elizabeth Street, 67 levels.
Clarendon Street, 33 levels, Elenberg Fraser
27 Little Collins Street, 32 levels
108 Flinders Street
17-23 Wills Street, 35 levels, refused at VCAT
Fulton Lane, 45 levels and 29 levels
33-43 Batman Street
35 Spring Street, 42 levels
[ list from multiple sources, including this skyscraper map ]
the towers look shaky already,lucky there is no
earthquake…not a good design…looks unstable
and is in fact an eyesore…if not scary effect of about to fall or slip down effect..sorry to say…
consider wraps of curtain-style facade so it’s neat
yet soft vertically to achive style…elegance…
good luck…if you need help please feel free to email to me…
by Iva on 15 November 12 ·#
I’m not sure I get this. The one part of the New Quay promenade at Docklands that gets any sun is to be built out in the interests of providing customers to nearby shops. I will go and figure…
Early sketch – North is to the right, as is our broken wheel.
Waterfront City was originally masterplanned in 2003 by BDP (London) and Hassell (Melbourne). They won the 2004 AILA Victoria Award for Excellence in Planning award for it. “Hassell’s complex and detailed plan exhibited a responsiveness to both site and user amenity … and to its Melbourne context and the focus on human scale, permeability and connectivity.” This is what it looked like then – a pretty good waterfront space connecting into a very deep development site, with a giant ferris wheel as the ill-fated Northern anchor (note to out-of-towners: it broke).
Early render. An expanse of Northern sunniness.
Early render – from the AILA entry – notice no marquee, green lawn instead.
Early render – from the AILA entry – taller buildings to north of Docklands Drive.
Another early render – from the AILA entry
The original BDP masterplan allowed for 400 homes and 50,000 square metres of retail space, according to Architect’s Journal. More recent information on BDP’s website states 400 homes and 35,000 square metres of retail. A March 2008 Docklands brochure varies from this wildly by saying that there are 104 homes and 80,000 square metres of commercial space. Costco must be quite big. This brochure mentions that it was all collaboratively designed by BDP, Hassell, and DKO Architects.
It must have become apparent at some point that there is a whole lot of empty air with a view above Waterfront City. Now DKO are masterplanners for the proposed new additions by MAB, who recently purchased just the harbourside portion of Waterfront City from ING. This area, between Docklands Drive and the Sea has been rebranded New Quay Central.
Renderings for this development are taken from the other side to BDP/Hassell’s early sketches. There is less sign of the sea, no sign of the promenade. The unloved marquee (really a giant teepee) is to be removed and replaced with a green space modelled on Melbourne’s City Square. Behind this park is a hotel that will generously shelter it from South Easterly winds.
One just wonders what becomes of the public (?) waterfront space, which is currently the only one along this stretch to get any northern sunlight in Winter. The new hotel that will encroach on it as well as cast a shadow onto it is part of 90,000 square metres of “infill” development that they propose. Which is about as big as Waterfront City is now.
Let’s finish with the new pictures, from the North.
The new park and hotel
A broader shot. Showing the rest of the 90,000 square metres concentrated into towers flanking the promenade. View is everything I guess.
The proposal has been submitted to VicUrban and the DPCD. I might leave the last word to the developers :
MAB believes that the aspirations prescribed in VicUrban’s Second Decade of Docklands strategy are embodied within this scheme. The scheme addresses some consistent challenges faced in Docklands including the need for more green space, better protection from the elements through sheltered spaces and a greater variety of high quality building types.
On the day before the night before Christmas, the latest episode in a year of courtroom tussling over a key site in Hobart.
At the Supreme Court of Tasmania’s last session of the year, Justice Wood upheld an appeal against the Appeals Tribunal’s determination that the Salamanca Place printing building was improperly listed on the heritage register used by the Heritage Council to approve its upcoming demolition. Phew. Easy to get that wrong, as the ABC appeared to – they illustrated their article with a picture of the State Offices at 10 Murray Street.
It has all gotten rather confusing this year as the Parliament Square proposal bounced around the Hobart courts. The confusion not helped by Newspeak press releases by the Tasmanian Treasurer Michael Aird:
“This revised planning application will run in parallel to the current appeal process for the original planning permit.” ( PDF )
That was an announcement in August for a new planning application by Citta Group, a month after a revised design was knocked back by the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal. The Tribunal appeared ticked off that, having had their original planning application approved by The Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority, Citta Group came back with a larger design “in response to conditions of the permit”. The revisions would require substantial messing about with the Murray Street frontage and the public square in order to fit in another level of car parking, though this hadn’t been shown on the drawings. The Tribunal found that the revised design was just too far from the design that had been taken to the public in 2009:
“The proposal is fundamentally different. It is different in shape, size, impact, appearance and its relationship with its surrounds.”
Aird didn’t respond well to the Tribunal’s determination, saying that the revised proposal was in fact smaller than the original, and the, “the project will go ahead”. He told the Mercury he supported the application, and was considering special laws to fast -track the project. He has referred the Tribunal’s verdict to the Solicitor-General.
Developers Citta Group didn’t take the news too well either, lashing out at the government:
It seems to us extraordinary that we were encouraged by the Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority to amend the design with their support but then had the amended project thrown out by the RMPAT with limited opportunity to present the proposal.
The Sullivan Cove Waterfront Authority is a government-appointed planning body that includes the State Government architect Peter Poulet on its Design Panel.
Aird’s frustration could to be due to his department’s twin responsibilities for offloading the eight government buildings as part of the Government Property Disposal Program, and running the development process. These don’t gel terribly well with the Tasmanian Justice Department’s diverse responsibilities for planning, design, and the courts.
In the Treasury’s Parliament Square FAQs , they ask themselves whether the parliament square redevelopment will be “part of the waterfront master planning”. ALthough the site falls within the boundary of the Sullivans Cove Master Plan, Treasury informs us that the, “recently appointed State Architect has been fully briefed on the PS redevelopment and will be mindful of it in his consideration of waterfront master planning.” They then refer back to their community consultation sessions in 2009 as if that was the end of the matter for them.
It was never going to be easy. One end of government sells off a block of government buildings to a developer for peanuts so that they will then rebuild some of them and lease them back to the government. Add other government departments less PPP-attuned. Add a bunch of 556 pesky architects and artists with their eyes on an old concrete building. And lastly, add one of the original architects, Dirk Bolt, questioning the sustainability of demolishing one tall building so that a 5 star one can be built:
There is a perception that 10 Murray Street is old-fashioned and that demolition is modern. This is mistaken. Demolition expresses the throw-away mentality that is as typical of the late 20th century as the building is of the 1960s but, like the building, the throw-away idea is no longer modern. In 2009, to be modern means to treasure both natural and built environments and to safeguard these as assets.
Speakers with published papers were:
In 2008, Wollongong City Council hired the NSW Government Architect’s Office to fix the Crown Street Mall. The 1986 pedestrian mall is ageing, dominated by a huge tubular steel ‘birdcage’ symbolising the area’s old reliance on the steel industry, and is visually clogged by centrally placed planters and street furniture. Pedestrian counts in the areas surrounding the Gateway have been dropping.
The NSW GAO put forward three options to simplify the mall, improve long distance sight lines, and improve passive surveillance. (April 2009 pdf report is here ). The options have different levels of vehicular penetration. It recommended the option with the least increase in roadway, which was carried by the WCC administrators in April last year. Since then there has been a building resistance to the plan from the retail sector, which the Illawarra Mercury has picked up on.
Local shop keepers recently fought off half-hour parking meters which they said were killing business. Local MP Noreen Hay has picked up their case to reintroduce cars into the mall, calling the NSW GAO’s work, “a cat’s lick”. She wants the mall to stop trying to compete with local shopping centres and to regain its street-style speciality shopping.
For Hay it’s not just about getting cars in there to boost retail patronage. Her other argument is that, “at night the mall turns into a no-man’s land and attracts the wrong sort of person.”
The main justification for putting the mall in in the first place appeared to be to discourage local youth from using the street as a drag strip at night.
This issue pops up all over the place – remove the cars and people feel less safe at 11pm – put them back in and the same wrong people loiter in their souped up cars outside roller-shuttered shops.
There are two malls, the mall by day and the mall by night. Seeing cars as the solution both for retail sector health and for after hours safety is a bit hopeful. Cars may appear to add some bustle to the daytime street, and provide some night time surveillance, but the central issue that isn’t going to go away under any of the plan’s options is that the centre of this city of 285,000 is pretty much dead at night.
The WCC says in a flyer: “This CCTV network has not… addressed the primary cause of the anti-social behaviour which is the lack of business and social activity in the Mall during the evening and night.”
The council and shop owners can’t expect a new master plan encouaging cars to solve that. Hopefully Hay’s desire to break away from the shopping centre model is the way forward. Shopping centres lock their doors at 6pm and the trading mix reflects that – so offer something different. But shopping centres have also shown us that squares can work and are necessary places for a community. Public space in the mall shouldn’t be reduced to footpaths without deeper consideration of the alternatives.
04.06.10 in urban-design
The rise of the consumer super-centre has led to the demise of what were once vibrant and eclectic main street malls.
Newcastle mall has experienced the same struggle against anti-social behaviour and relentless competition from commercial franchise stores.
Let’s hope that people return to these city centres and recognise the tastless excess of the super-center.
At the Urban Development Institute of Australia national congress in Sydney this week, a Mr Paul Keating spoke with gumption, apparently shocking delegates.
News Ltd reports him as saying that, “Sydney’s “gormless” apartment blocks [which had] facades that look more like “ice cube trays” were depressing the city’s residents.. He said city units were a “mess on a pavement”.
“The community does not need instruction in architecture or design to know what is mediocre or bad, they know it instantly.”
“They are depressed by what they see and are forced to inhabit and buy and they resent it. They know they are living in these ice cube glass shapes with their unused little verandas, their eight-by-six ceilings, their gyprock walls. They say – is that all there is to it?”
11.03.10 in urban-design
by hairdresser on 12 March 10 ·#
Keating for Sydney Style Tsar says Daily Telegraph. I am sure Keating used the same criticism against Sydney apartment towers 10 years ago, maybe no one was listening then.
by peter on 13 March 10 ·#
Here is the earlier version , 2001: “I think it’s important to recognise, and this is I think a very important point: that Sydneysiders do not buy architecture, they’re not really interested in architecture, they buy a commodity, a flat or a house. And by and large, with some important exceptions the development industry appropriately provides them with the junk that they become used to.”
“Sydney’s architectural ordinariness will not be solved by restricting design to architects, rather than by interesting owners and developers in the merits and profitability of good design, and pushing them along with better planning laws, and educating the public about what a good building is, and how they’re entitled to demand better. And that 8’6” ceilings and Gyprock walls isn’t good enough. What we’ve got to do is inculcate in the public the fact that they are entitled to better, and that we should go and we should chase it.”
(! Google found that for me via a butterpaper page that is so damn… OLD 10th birthday in a few weeks. I might celebrate by splashing out $5 at Breadtop.)
by peter on 13 March 10 ·#
Why would PK change his tune, the architects and development industry haven’t in 10 years either.
by luke on 14 March 10 ·#
u could just as easily substitute marxico city and boganville in pk’s crit 2.
i’m not detecting taste so much as he’s got a nose for shit and he’s getting sick of the smell of it.
by hairdresser on 14 March 10 ·#
by peter on 14 March 10 ·#
broad church the religion of architects.
from believers 2 non believers and everything in between.
—-being objective —-pk’s educated consumer is a bit of a econo rationalist fairy story from anotha time + anotha place.
in 21C only 15% of buyers of arsetrailyun apartments r citizens who have to look at them. the 30% chinese investors sitting in shaggedhigh couldn’t give a rats arse wot it looks like, only wot colour it is..
by hairdresser on 14 March 10 ·#
Melbourne Lord Mayor has changed his tune on Swanston Street, and is now advocating a pedestrian friendly strip borrowing from recent work on New Yor’s Broadway and Times Square. New buddy, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is sending him “some material” about it.
Danish city renovator Jan Gehl has been hired to look at it. “I met with Jan and he is coming to Melbourne to help us as well, to have a look at Swanston St.”
But… what about the bikes? They are still in I think – according to Bicycle Victoria, bike-friendly four versions of bike-friendly OPTION 6 are on the table.
This great tune change was perhaps egged on by a bit of community consultation . Here is Lord Mayor Doyle a year ago :
“It’s not as if Swanston Street is some sort of European townsquare pedestrian nirvana. It’s a failed experiment.”
“I am sick of being run down by cyclists again and again.” He said then that they should use Russell Street instead of Swanston.
24.12.09 in urban-design
what about the cabs….???
by cabbie on 24 December 09 ·#
They will have to idle elsewhere. Maybe Geelong.
by peter on 24 December 09 ·#
ok-im a cyclist(oh no….the devil incarnate…yeh I am but hey..)
I like riding down swanston st. but I myself get run
down by other cylists for being too slow(!).ok-check this-swanston st has
b)other cross roads
d)some motor traffic
ok-im not advocating all cyclists slow down to
a sub speed-but Swanston st will never be suitable spot
to burn you’re latest single speed lighting bolt
or sub carbon frame cadel evans super racer.
there are places in melbourne were you can go all
out-ie down(and up!!) the johnston st hill from kew
(just watch out for those boulevard exitors but after that..)-or whitehorse road-watch the trams
capitol trail thru parkville-interesting ride
under bolte freeway!
the kew boulevard itself.awesome-just watch some of the corrugations you road racers-bad for wheels..
burnley boulevard.nice.no probs.diverge and check
out a few of those robyn boyd specials.also
brutalist houses up top of the brutal hill.
going up swanston st.fun.no brakes required
nicholson st has its moments-just when it gets to the city-well-um
so-swanston st-stupid to go fast down.fun to hang back
and check out the sites.(tng building,manchester
unity building,story hall, etc.
by frewheeling spud on 8 February 10 ·#
Victoria’s Premier Brumby has just released the draft Urban Design Framework for Marysville, which was pretty much wiped out after the February fires. You can give feedback until October 10th.
10.09.09 in urban-design
too many trees
by luke on 11 September 09 ·#
Poor old Jonathan Glancey at the Guardian UK isn’t terribly happy about “Australia-owned” Westfield’s new megacentre at London’s White City. Comparing it to an ’80s airline terminal, he thinks it, “is just a tiny step towards our collective desire to undermine the life and culture of the traditional city”. Westfield, no doubt delighted by the opening day surge of consumers into its new palace, suggest that, “once you’re here, you’ll never want to leave…”
Which reminds me of the pioneering Victor Gruen and his ‘ transfer ‘, a measurement of the time it takes between leaving your car and becoming a glazey-eyed impulse buyer in a shopping centre. Gruen was an emigre architect of Austrian extraction who designed a mountain of mid-century shopping centres in the U.S., before deciding he didn’t like the format and returning to Europe.
One of Gruen’s better efforts, the Randhurst (1962) in Illinois, does great things with triangles in order to accommodate three anchor tenants. It also had a nuclear fallout shelter – how’s that for safe shopping. The good bits were stuffed up and now everything is being demolished (except for the anchor tenants). The complex will be turned inside out and is being rebranded: over to the Mall Hall of Fame (!) blog: “[Randhurst] is to be demalled into a mixed-use, lifestyle-type venue. The basement/fallout shelter level will become an underground parking garage.”
05.11.08 in urban-design
JPW and Terroir’s concept plans for the redevelopment of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery were released recently. Neighbouring Dunn Place has much urban potential, as was identified in the Hobart Waterfront competition a couple of years back (whatever came from that?). That competition was interested in strengthening North-South links from the waterfront through Dunn Place to City Hall and beyond.
The new plans show a glazed roof to an archaeological exhibition taking up the Eastern half of Dunn Place, with a “Crow’s Nest” tower at the Southern end. Filling in the Northern edge are a wet weather drop off, cafe, and a linkway from the new gallery. It is easy to see how all this assists TMAG but harder to tell what it will mean for the surroundings – though anything has to be better than the current car park. The bounding one way traffic sewers, and pedestrian connections across them don’t seem to have been addressed as part of this exercise.
View from the South East:
Back on that competition, its website is still there, untouched for over a year. The last news was of a report published in mid 2007, based on the competition results. It refers on to the Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority if you want a copy. But the SCWA , who ran the competition, appear to have forgotten about it – I cannot find mention of the competition or its report on their site . The three winners had rather different suggestions for Dunn Place. Preston Lane built over most of it, Jeppe Aagaard Andersen flooded it, and Tony Caro turned it into a park.
08.09.08 in urban-design
Sound like The Vault all over? Bellemo and Cat’s Sidle playground shelter is made from old plastic playground slides (makes sense). It was entered in this year’s Institute awards, but is now under threat of removal by the City of Manningham. Locals are “divided” about it, when they’re not sliding on it, and the council would like to move the sculture to someplace where people can, “appreciate the artistic merit of the work”. I think there’s a spot just across from the Casino that might be vacant.
Vault sculptor Ron Robertson Swan in 2002 :
“I think the problem is that a lot of people don’t know… that it’s fine to be slightly uneasy with something. If somebody is uneasy about something, normally they have an immediate reaction, that ‘this is not good and it must go’. Most people want immediate pleasure, immediate recognition and immediate reassurance, and (they think) if that doesn’t happen, then there’s something wrong.
“But 20 years have passed, and I think people are at least a little bit more familiar with what modern art looks like.”
29.07.08 in urban-design
Architect / protaganist: Bellemo and Cat
Is public art sliding into oblivion, unless it is a big dog, big bird, or something on the side of a freeway that is in no one’s back yard and doesn’t need to be pondered upon?
by george on 1 August 08 ·#
A NZ Herald editorial disagrees: “It is entirely possible that the development of Queens Wharf to satisfy the needs of the global cruise industry can be undertaken so as not to clash with the creation of a people-friendly precinct that will unite city and harbour. But it is not probable and the proponents of this scheme are a long way from demonstrating that it is even likely.”
Let’s hope Bradbury’s view wins. At least Mayor John Banks seems aware of the possibilities, he thinks it could be the “golden gate” to Auckland’s CBD. How about a competition?
18.02.08 in urban-design