19 April 2016

Creating a future vision for Civic

| Paul Costigan
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There are loads of documents, reports and expert forums regarding the future of Civic. There is an abundance of pretty pictures, bad graphics, meaningless flowery statements and far too much powerpoint planning rhetoric – but what we need is action.

A recent Property Council report emphasised the need for less regulation and more government financial assistance for developers in the area. Is that what others call rent-seeking?

Last year, a forum on rejuvenating Civic was presented by Big Ideas on the ABC. An expert panel was asked how to breathe new life into what was described as the tired centre of Canberra. The experts came out with some gems, including:

  • Doing away with the pedestrian areas and bring back cars to the streets (I recommend that the academic who suggested this idea read this article on how cities outgrew the automobile)
  • Proceeding with the City to the Lake development, on the grounds that even though it is to be way over to the west of Acton, it will somehow bring people into Civic
  • Arguing that Civic’s future is already being guided by an expert panel called Civic CBD Ltd (that’s the property sector)

There is not much on offer from all these reports and forums. And I do wonder why Civic was not made-over before money was spent on the development of the new CBR branding.

While Civic remains dominated by a big box mall with sad precincts attached, it is no surprise that there was a marketing problem when the chief minister visited Singapore to talk up business opportunities. What did the planning bureaucrats think would happen when the minister’s overseas guests walked around Civic and observed an absence of people?

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The planning bureaucracy is constantly flying in experts who speak earnestly in the current urban planning language. The experts are here for a day, drop a few ideas, do some local media and then head home. The planning bureaucracy gains a few new words to use in their reports to the minister for urban renewal – the chief minister. I hope he has been impressed?

The debate is dominated and led by the property sector. Their predecessors would have argued that Civic, then a series of pleasant and busy pedestrian plazas, had to have an oversized mall, the Canberra Centre. Collectively the experts, the bureaucrats and lobbyists avoid any discussion about the major obstacle to the rejuvenation of Civic, the Canberra Centre, nor do they mention the impact of the massive box on surrounding precincts.

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The current trend, as experienced in Yarralumla, Dickson and elsewhere, is to throw token opportunities to the community for their input and then the planning agencies use their suite of questionable planning codes to open up opportunities for the property sector.

Sadly the perception remains that there is no leadership from the government (or its bureaucracy or other sectorial interests) on how Civic could become a sustainable urban space with new aesthetically pleasing developments that address climate change adaptation and provide locals with a city centre to be proud of.

Canberra is a culturally rich city with a huge numbers of people with an extraordinary range of interests and expertise. Our politicians are not engaged with – and do not empathise with – these people. Our politicians are viewed as being walled in behind layers of advisors, lobbyists and bureaucrats.

The ACT Government needs to work around their entrenched bureaucrats and lobbyists and link directly with the layers of creativity and intelligence in this city. Some form of action is required whereby creative ideas are welcomed, talked about and then sorted through to form a vision for Civic.

Informed creativity is urgently required to be engaged and to formulate a vision for the centre of Canberra. One Big Idea will not do it this time!

I remain optimistic that our local elected politicians could rise to this important urban challenge. Is the Chief Minister ready to take up the challenge?

This article is the second in a three-part series exploring Civic’s past, present and future. Read the first post in the series.

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crackerpants said :

rubaiyat said :

breda said :

What planet are these people on?

But NOT apparently on the tiny asteroid that only has Canberra, Queanbeyan and McDonalds drive-thrues.

I am just amazed how Gus Petersilka survived the teeny, tiny, petty, stultified, ignorant and uninterested mindset of Canberrans…

…just to get Outdoor Dining!!!

rubaiyat said :

Maya123 said :

Have you actually tried the bus? I have, and discovered it’s much more convenient than having to find a car park.

I’ll second that. The bus is slower, but not that much slower, and when I get to the City, I simply get off where I want and don’t have to circle around for a vacant parking space, which is usually NOT close to where I want to be, and forces me to return and stuff the parking machine with my hard earned cash.

As a bonus I am outside enjoying the sunshine and not entombed in some car-fart filled concrete necropolis.

But I understand that there may be people so overweight and with diabetes problems from sitting either behind a wheel or desk, that they can barely manage to roll themselves out of their cars for the difficult journey across rough terrain to the back entrance into the shopping mall.

Luckily they’ll be able to trade in their 4WD, that they needed for their cross town adventures, for that mobility scooter when they can no longer make it out the front door on their own two feet.

bryansworld said :

breda said :

Right, when I want to do some shopping or have a relaxed meal at a restaurant or go clubbing, I want to ride a bike, or catch a bus. Especially on a chilly winter’s day or night.

What planet are these people on?

Seeing the world as they wish it to be, rather than as it is, is a chronic problem with those who want to redesign human nature. And every failure of their grand plans is just ammunition for them that they didn’t try hard enough, and need to double down.

Sorry if I didn’t articulate it well, but I was trying to say that I don’t think Garema Place’s woes are a result of poor car access. If a place is worth visiting people will get there in all sorts of ways. I’m not a zealot, I do my shopping by car and often pick up the kids by car. But I get a bus when I go out sometimes, and ride to work sometimes, and even ride with my kids to school ocassionally. It doesn’t often help debates to categorise people into one of two camps.

I think Breda’s point is perfectly valid, and I appreciate the points you make bryansworld. But as Rubaiyat’s comments above show, it is all two easy to split people into two camps, and in doing so alienate whole swathes of the community – families in this case. Rubaiyat I always follow your comments with great interest, as a lot of what you say makes perfect sense and sounds like the kind of world I’d like to live in, but you ignore the mundane practicalities of family life, and take a swing at the same time.

As Breda says, designers can’t change human nature, and it’s futile to try and force people into a particular mould. Taking the kids on an outing is one thing. Challenging but doable. But parking is needed. Adding an hour on the bus with 3 little kids beforehand and after is also theoretically doable, but we’d have to start the return journey as soon as we reached our destination. I have no idea what it would cost, but the whole idea would put me off. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with my kids, maybe in the 60s they would have walked the 12k in the snow to enjoy the sights of Civic etc etc, but for my family, in 2015, nope.

That does not mean we’re obese car-addicted frequenters of McDonalds drive-thru, waiting to be struck down by diabetes or a freak accident with a mobility scooter. We chose to buy on the edge of town, where we have (walking) access to nature reserves and trails, and will never be built out. So that we can live an active lifestyle (in all weather, we’re not made of sugar) and the kids can play outside in a proper backyard. By definition, that means we do not live in an apartment a few blocks from the city a la New York or any other glowing epitome of urban design. To make Civic, in whatever state it’s in, attractive to families (and there are a few of us), there will need to be parking. I really don’t care if the parking is 5 or 10 minutes away, happy to walk, happy to ignore the kids’ half-hearted whining, but making Civic inaccessible to cars will put families off.

Insulting, dismissing and alienating us will stop from even engaging in the discussion in the first place.

Way out there comments of yours.
In the 1960s was Canberra spread out 12kms? “In the snow”! How often did it snow ? But then again, I walked to school in Cooma a few times through the snow. Kids love snow! Fun walking in the snow to school. But it didn’t snow very often, and Cooma is colder than Canberra.

If you live on the edge of Canberra surely your shopping centre is Belconnen, Tuggeranong or Gungahlin. Just as I rarely visit those shopping centres, as Civic and Woden are closer, why would you need to visit Civic very often? Visit the closest shopping centre.

crackerpants12:49 pm 19 May 15

rubaiyat said :

breda said :

What planet are these people on?

But NOT apparently on the tiny asteroid that only has Canberra, Queanbeyan and McDonalds drive-thrues.

I am just amazed how Gus Petersilka survived the teeny, tiny, petty, stultified, ignorant and uninterested mindset of Canberrans…

…just to get Outdoor Dining!!!

rubaiyat said :

Maya123 said :

Have you actually tried the bus? I have, and discovered it’s much more convenient than having to find a car park.

I’ll second that. The bus is slower, but not that much slower, and when I get to the City, I simply get off where I want and don’t have to circle around for a vacant parking space, which is usually NOT close to where I want to be, and forces me to return and stuff the parking machine with my hard earned cash.

As a bonus I am outside enjoying the sunshine and not entombed in some car-fart filled concrete necropolis.

But I understand that there may be people so overweight and with diabetes problems from sitting either behind a wheel or desk, that they can barely manage to roll themselves out of their cars for the difficult journey across rough terrain to the back entrance into the shopping mall.

Luckily they’ll be able to trade in their 4WD, that they needed for their cross town adventures, for that mobility scooter when they can no longer make it out the front door on their own two feet.

bryansworld said :

breda said :

Right, when I want to do some shopping or have a relaxed meal at a restaurant or go clubbing, I want to ride a bike, or catch a bus. Especially on a chilly winter’s day or night.

What planet are these people on?

Seeing the world as they wish it to be, rather than as it is, is a chronic problem with those who want to redesign human nature. And every failure of their grand plans is just ammunition for them that they didn’t try hard enough, and need to double down.

Sorry if I didn’t articulate it well, but I was trying to say that I don’t think Garema Place’s woes are a result of poor car access. If a place is worth visiting people will get there in all sorts of ways. I’m not a zealot, I do my shopping by car and often pick up the kids by car. But I get a bus when I go out sometimes, and ride to work sometimes, and even ride with my kids to school ocassionally. It doesn’t often help debates to categorise people into one of two camps.

I think Breda’s point is perfectly valid, and I appreciate the points you make bryansworld. But as Rubaiyat’s comments above show, it is all two easy to split people into two camps, and in doing so alienate whole swathes of the community – families in this case. Rubaiyat I always follow your comments with great interest, as a lot of what you say makes perfect sense and sounds like the kind of world I’d like to live in, but you ignore the mundane practicalities of family life, and take a swing at the same time.

As Breda says, designers can’t change human nature, and it’s futile to try and force people into a particular mould. Taking the kids on an outing is one thing. Challenging but doable. But parking is needed. Adding an hour on the bus with 3 little kids beforehand and after is also theoretically doable, but we’d have to start the return journey as soon as we reached our destination. I have no idea what it would cost, but the whole idea would put me off. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with my kids, maybe in the 60s they would have walked the 12k in the snow to enjoy the sights of Civic etc etc, but for my family, in 2015, nope.

That does not mean we’re obese car-addicted frequenters of McDonalds drive-thru, waiting to be struck down by diabetes or a freak accident with a mobility scooter. We chose to buy on the edge of town, where we have (walking) access to nature reserves and trails, and will never be built out. So that we can live an active lifestyle (in all weather, we’re not made of sugar) and the kids can play outside in a proper backyard. By definition, that means we do not live in an apartment a few blocks from the city a la New York or any other glowing epitome of urban design. To make Civic, in whatever state it’s in, attractive to families (and there are a few of us), there will need to be parking. I really don’t care if the parking is 5 or 10 minutes away, happy to walk, happy to ignore the kids’ half-hearted whining, but making Civic inaccessible to cars will put families off.

Insulting, dismissing and alienating us will stop from even engaging in the discussion in the first place.

rubaiyat said :

breda said :

What planet are these people on?

On the planet that has New York, London, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Paris, Milan, Queenstown, Melbourne and Sydney.

But NOT apparently on the tiny asteroid that only has Canberra, Queanbeyan and McDonalds drive-thrues.

I am just amazed how Gus Petersilka survived the teeny, tiny, petty, stultified, ignorant and uninterested mindset of Canberrans…

…just to get Outdoor Dining!!!

I’m not surprised we have an obesity epidemic.

It is also about the type of walk. A pleasant stroll past nice little shops or trees etc – nice. a walk past the blank wall outside of the mall – not so enticing.

I will walk to something i want to go to, or for a nice walk. But if I’m already in the mall because I parked there, I’m not going to go outside past depressing beggars and blank walls to get to some other shops, if I’m already at some shops.

and i am someone who actually prefers to walk from shop to shop outside.

breda said :

What planet are these people on?

On the planet that has New York, London, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Paris, Milan, Queenstown, Melbourne and Sydney.

But NOT apparently on the tiny asteroid that only has Canberra, Queanbeyan and McDonalds drive-thrues.

I am just amazed how Gus Petersilka survived the teeny, tiny, petty, stultified, ignorant and uninterested mindset of Canberrans…

…just to get Outdoor Dining!!!

breda said :

Right, when I want to do some shopping or have a relaxed meal at a restaurant or go clubbing, I want to ride a bike, or catch a bus. Especially on a chilly winter’s day or night.

What planet are these people on?

Seeing the world as they wish it to be, rather than as it is, is a chronic problem with those who want to redesign human nature. And every failure of their grand plans is just ammunition for them that they didn’t try hard enough, and need to double down.

Sorry if I didn’t articulate it well, but I was trying to say that I don’t think Garema Place’s woes are a result of poor car access. If a place is worth visiting people will get there in all sorts of ways. I’m not a zealot, I do my shopping by car and often pick up the kids by car. But I get a bus when I go out sometimes, and ride to work sometimes, and even ride with my kids to school ocassionally. It doesn’t often help debates to categorise people into one of two camps.

Right, when I want to do some shopping or have a relaxed meal at a restaurant or go clubbing, I want to ride a bike, or catch a bus. Especially on a chilly winter’s day or night.

What planet are these people on?

Seeing the world as they wish it to be, rather than as it is, is a chronic problem with those who want to redesign human nature. And every failure of their grand plans is just ammunition for them that they didn’t try hard enough, and need to double down.

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

sepi said :

You need to be able to park closer to Garema place for anyone to go there.

If you have parked in the multi-storey which lets you out already int he mall, you won’t walk outside thru the cold to Garema place.

The Casino end is gradually dying too since they built a big department on the little carpark.

If you could park close, and didn’t have to walk through the feral bus interchange, civic would have more hope.

This is precisely one of the problems. The other is drunks and vagrants.
Someone suggested that markets be held in Garema Place and my response was “where do we park?”
City planners please note that a future tram will not solve the problem – it will only serve as another place for the drunks to vomit etc.

This seems to be a bit unreasonable. Does somewhere need to be nor more than thirty seconds-walk away from a car park to be viable? Would it be too much to walk for a minute, or three? Is exercise dangerous? I think this attitude of expecting to drive right up to everything is very dangerous.

I challenge you to find any legal, affordable parking within 31 seconds walk from Garema Place.

No hope. You win. But easy to find affordable parking within two minutes for stays shorter than a couple of hours. Or walk a little bit further. Or catch a bus. Or ride a bike. Why the need to drive right up to where you want to go? I can appreciate the utility of this for a quick drive-thru Maccas stop on the way to Sydney with a kid sleeping in the car, but as a guiding principle for sustainable urban design?

Your points are just as valid as mine – I am not trying to win.
I think I have just seen what the problem in the question you asked:”why the need to drive right up to where you want to go to?”
The answer is that I never want to go near Garema Place and I suspect hundreds of others are just like me.
No doubt the government will spend millions of dollars there to convince me I am wrong.

dungfungus said :

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

sepi said :

You need to be able to park closer to Garema place for anyone to go there.

If you have parked in the multi-storey which lets you out already int he mall, you won’t walk outside thru the cold to Garema place.

The Casino end is gradually dying too since they built a big department on the little carpark.

If you could park close, and didn’t have to walk through the feral bus interchange, civic would have more hope.

This is precisely one of the problems. The other is drunks and vagrants.
Someone suggested that markets be held in Garema Place and my response was “where do we park?”
City planners please note that a future tram will not solve the problem – it will only serve as another place for the drunks to vomit etc.

This seems to be a bit unreasonable. Does somewhere need to be nor more than thirty seconds-walk away from a car park to be viable? Would it be too much to walk for a minute, or three? Is exercise dangerous? I think this attitude of expecting to drive right up to everything is very dangerous.

I challenge you to find any legal, affordable parking within 31 seconds walk from Garema Place.

No hope. You win. But easy to find affordable parking within two minutes for stays shorter than a couple of hours. Or walk a little bit further. Or catch a bus. Or ride a bike. Why the need to drive right up to where you want to go? I can appreciate the utility of this for a quick drive-thru Maccas stop on the way to Sydney with a kid sleeping in the car, but as a guiding principle for sustainable urban design?

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

sepi said :

You need to be able to park closer to Garema place for anyone to go there.

If you have parked in the multi-storey which lets you out already int he mall, you won’t walk outside thru the cold to Garema place.

The Casino end is gradually dying too since they built a big department on the little carpark.

If you could park close, and didn’t have to walk through the feral bus interchange, civic would have more hope.

This is precisely one of the problems. The other is drunks and vagrants.
Someone suggested that markets be held in Garema Place and my response was “where do we park?”
City planners please note that a future tram will not solve the problem – it will only serve as another place for the drunks to vomit etc.

This seems to be a bit unreasonable. Does somewhere need to be nor more than thirty seconds-walk away from a car park to be viable? Would it be too much to walk for a minute, or three? Is exercise dangerous? I think this attitude of expecting to drive right up to everything is very dangerous.

I challenge you to find any legal, affordable parking within 31 seconds walk from Garema Place.

dungfungus said :

sepi said :

You need to be able to park closer to Garema place for anyone to go there.

If you have parked in the multi-storey which lets you out already int he mall, you won’t walk outside thru the cold to Garema place.

The Casino end is gradually dying too since they built a big department on the little carpark.

If you could park close, and didn’t have to walk through the feral bus interchange, civic would have more hope.

This is precisely one of the problems. The other is drunks and vagrants.
Someone suggested that markets be held in Garema Place and my response was “where do we park?”
City planners please note that a future tram will not solve the problem – it will only serve as another place for the drunks to vomit etc.

This seems to be a bit unreasonable. Does somewhere need to be nor more than thirty seconds-walk away from a car park to be viable? Would it be too much to walk for a minute, or three? Is exercise dangerous? I think this attitude of expecting to drive right up to everything is very dangerous.

Maya123 said :

Have you actually tried the bus? I have, and discovered it’s much more convenient than having to find a car park.

I’ll second that. The bus is slower, but not that much slower, and when I get to the City, I simply get off where I want and don’t have to circle around for a vacant parking space, which is usually NOT close to where I want to be, and forces me to return and stuff the parking machine with my hard earned cash.

As a bonus I am outside enjoying the sunshine and not entombed in some car-fart filled concrete necropolis.

But I understand that there may be people so overweight and with diabetes problems from sitting either behind a wheel or desk, that they can barely manage to roll themselves out of their cars for the difficult journey across rough terrain to the back entrance into the shopping mall.

Luckily they’ll be able to trade in their 4WD, that they needed for their cross town adventures, for that mobility scooter when they can no longer make it out the front door on their own two feet.

sepi said :

You need to be able to park closer to Garema place for anyone to go there.

If you have parked in the multi-storey which lets you out already int he mall, you won’t walk outside thru the cold to Garema place.

The Casino end is gradually dying too since they built a big department on the little carpark.

If you could park close, and didn’t have to walk through the feral bus interchange, civic would have more hope.

Have you actually tried the bus? I have, and discovered it’s much more convenient than having to find a car park.

sepi said :

You need to be able to park closer to Garema place for anyone to go there.

If you have parked in the multi-storey which lets you out already int he mall, you won’t walk outside thru the cold to Garema place.

The Casino end is gradually dying too since they built a big department on the little carpark.

If you could park close, and didn’t have to walk through the feral bus interchange, civic would have more hope.

This is precisely one of the problems. The other is drunks and vagrants.
Someone suggested that markets be held in Garema Place and my response was “where do we park?”
City planners please note that a future tram will not solve the problem – it will only serve as another place for the drunks to vomit etc.

You need to be able to park closer to Garema place for anyone to go there.

If you have parked in the multi-storey which lets you out already int he mall, you won’t walk outside thru the cold to Garema place.

The Casino end is gradually dying too since they built a big department on the little carpark.

If you could park close, and didn’t have to walk through the feral bus interchange, civic would have more hope.

Canberra’s “planners” are just creatures of whatever trend was current when they were at university, or is fashionable this week.

Exhibit A – Green Square in Kingston. Because they were all in Tim Flannery’s thrall, they destroyed a lovely community gathering place and replaced it with pebblecrete and spiky “drought resistant” plants. For Da Environment, dontcha know.

After the perfectly predictable results, i.e. the end of the drought and loss of business for local traders, it took the local businesses getting together and putting up their own money to get the grass back. Guess who paid for that politically correct debacle?

Exhibit B – outside Canberra, but analogous to Garema Place. The Parramatta council agreed with the latte crowd that cars were bad, m’kay, and created a vast windswept mall. Result – it’s now a desert for small business, a haven for junkies and drunks, and no-one in their right mind walks there at night. Encouraged by this success, the “planners” now want to do the same to Church Street, a vibrant and (currently) safe restaurant precinct which has – quelle horreur – a functioning road through it.

I guarantee that if they do it, within five years it will be another boarded-up, crime-ridden slum like the current mall. And like Garema Place.

Evidence? We don’t need no steenking evidence. Because, we have seen the future, and everything else just means that we need to redouble our efforts, m’kay?

rubaiyat said :

Masquara said :

That Westside aesthetic might work in the middle of an industrial area – but artificially creating that “packing crate aesthetic” just hasn’t worked. Their facebook feed is pathetic – take out the boot camp ads and the coffee roaster promos, and there’s simply nothing happening there. It’s like the back parts of the Exhibition Centre, you know, where the horses get hosed down or the lettuce outside leaves are chopped off ahead of the Farmer’s Market, have been trundled to the lakeside. Seriously dreadful – the rest of the lake has monuments, great buildings, a palliative care resting place, gardens … and this ill-thought thing. Let’s just hope its shelf-life of 18 months is just that. This is one endeavour for which there will NEVER be a call to keep it.

Lonsdale Street WAS a semi industrial area.

I wouldn’t go too much on the rendering, the perspective is all way exaggerated for a start and it certainly isn’t “packing crate”. It all comes down to the finishes and details. I am more concerned about the street level and what appears to be blank walls, although with some nooks and crannies to explore.

Canberra’s lakes were created in living memory and are now badly polluted, infested with carp and with neglected and run down landscaping best and usually only seen from a distance in a car whizzing past, so you don’t catch all the rubbish stuck between the greenery, that people threw out of their cars.

The Carillon, a gift from Britain and one of the best landmarks in Canberra now looks like a locked up toilet block up close. Sad that that is what we do.

“The Carillon, a gift from Britain and one of the best landmarks in Canberra now looks like a locked up toilet block up close.”

Trying to picture that as you see. I just can’t.

rubaiyat said :

2015 03 03: Andrew Barr anounces Art Not Apart for 2015 03 14 (never happened to my knowledge):

http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/barr/2015/pop-up-village-renews-west-basin

Don’t confuse me with any kind of fan of Andrew Barr’s, but “Art Not Apart” was a great day. Lots of people there. A very varied selection of events.
Not that I bothered to walk over to the new shipping terminal on the futsal field – so I don’t know what it was like over there.

As for Civic, a few things:
1. Exhorbitant parking. I can park for free at Belco, Woden, Tuggers oir Quangers.
So guess where I go to do my Christmas shopping or see a movie?

2. At night: violent drunks and over-reacting police. It feels unsafe, and bizarrely, my experience with the policing of this circus was to almost end up in a paddy wagon after they mistook me for one of the violent drunks they were trying to catch.
Never again.

3. Daytime: My taxes at work in the shape of Garema Place’s screaming drunks. It is almost unbearably depressing seeing my taxes being squandered in the form of handouts to human detritus who promptly spend it on getting hammered in the middle of the day, in the middle of an otherwise attractive public space, effing and carrying on.
Meanwhile, the law enforcement my taxes *also* help fund fails to sweep up this rubbish and dump it somewhere else where it’s not in my face.
Never again, certainly not with my children.

Been to Civic once this year so far.

Masquara said :

That Westside aesthetic might work in the middle of an industrial area – but artificially creating that “packing crate aesthetic” just hasn’t worked. Their facebook feed is pathetic – take out the boot camp ads and the coffee roaster promos, and there’s simply nothing happening there. It’s like the back parts of the Exhibition Centre, you know, where the horses get hosed down or the lettuce outside leaves are chopped off ahead of the Farmer’s Market, have been trundled to the lakeside. Seriously dreadful – the rest of the lake has monuments, great buildings, a palliative care resting place, gardens … and this ill-thought thing. Let’s just hope its shelf-life of 18 months is just that. This is one endeavour for which there will NEVER be a call to keep it.

Oh, you seem to responding to the world’s slowest “Pop-Up”. That was a jump.

I thought it was to the Lonsdale Link.

Masquara said :

That Westside aesthetic might work in the middle of an industrial area – but artificially creating that “packing crate aesthetic” just hasn’t worked. Their facebook feed is pathetic – take out the boot camp ads and the coffee roaster promos, and there’s simply nothing happening there. It’s like the back parts of the Exhibition Centre, you know, where the horses get hosed down or the lettuce outside leaves are chopped off ahead of the Farmer’s Market, have been trundled to the lakeside. Seriously dreadful – the rest of the lake has monuments, great buildings, a palliative care resting place, gardens … and this ill-thought thing. Let’s just hope its shelf-life of 18 months is just that. This is one endeavour for which there will NEVER be a call to keep it.

Lonsdale Street WAS a semi industrial area.

I wouldn’t go too much on the rendering, the perspective is all way exaggerated for a start and it certainly isn’t “packing crate”. It all comes down to the finishes and details. I am more concerned about the street level and what appears to be blank walls, although with some nooks and crannies to explore.

Canberra’s lakes were created in living memory and are now badly polluted, infested with carp and with neglected and run down landscaping best and usually only seen from a distance in a car whizzing past, so you don’t catch all the rubbish stuck between the greenery, that people threw out of their cars.

The Carillon, a gift from Britain and one of the best landmarks in Canberra now looks like a locked up toilet block up close. Sad that that is what we do.

That Westside aesthetic might work in the middle of an industrial area – but artificially creating that “packing crate aesthetic” just hasn’t worked. Their facebook feed is pathetic – take out the boot camp ads and the coffee roaster promos, and there’s simply nothing happening there. It’s like the back parts of the Exhibition Centre, you know, where the horses get hosed down or the lettuce outside leaves are chopped off ahead of the Farmer’s Market, have been trundled to the lakeside. Seriously dreadful – the rest of the lake has monuments, great buildings, a palliative care resting place, gardens … and this ill-thought thing. Let’s just hope its shelf-life of 18 months is just that. This is one endeavour for which there will NEVER be a call to keep it.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

I think there are several examples of design that are interesting in Canberra, but few of them recent…

Recent would be the National Portrait Gallery and adjacent spaces, the Arboretum, New Acton (unfortunately freezing cold in winter) and upper Lonsdale Street but not because of the buildings.

Nothing much else. Parts of the older ANU and then I am stumped. Just about nothing faces the sun or shields you from the bitter SW winter winds which is the single most blindingly obvious thing to do in Canberra, and therefore never is.

What are yours?

Felix the Cat2:23 pm 15 May 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

As for “The concept behind the project builds on the idea of a town square”, it is 25 minutes from the city center. Not exactly a central square.

Maybe 25 minutes if you walk, about 5 mins driving a car. But yeah, separated from the City. Agree with your other points though it might get patronage from people riding bikes around the lake or tourists coming back from boat trips across the lake.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back2:18 pm 15 May 15

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

I am not a fan of lots of the recent development in Canberra, because much of it is shallow, poorly thought out and not well executed.

“Recent”?

The problems of the City go way back. Bad design hangs around like a bad smell for a very, very, very long time. A casual “She’ll be right” attitude ensures that the problems are practically permanent.

I think there are several examples of design that are interesting in Canberra, but few of them recent…

…and:

“There is nothing more uncommon than common sense.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

“…if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

rubaiyat said :

Don’t forget this is just a car park.

Since I don’t frequent the area I don’t know whether it is “free” ie the government subsidises your driving habits, or paid parking in which case it makes as much money as car parking can provide.

At a stroke of the pen this relatively worthless, nasty space will make a lot of money for a small number of people. “Profitable” all depends on who and how many fingers are going to be in this pie and just how gross the pie will end up being. Also just how much of it gets wasted in redesigns, delays, changes and ultimately the almost inevitably bad and dysfunctional design.

There will be those who make money out of the end result but won’t have to live with it, and the only certainty is there will be losers, everyone else. The other landlords in the area, the other tenants and businesses and the public who will be enjoying the cold winter shadows for as long as this looms over them ie forever.

Sorry I posted this in the wrong story. This should have been in the Dickson article.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

I am not a fan of lots of the recent development in Canberra, because much of it is shallow, poorly thought out and not well executed.

“Recent”?

The problems of the City go way back. Bad design hangs around like a bad smell for a very, very, very long time. A casual “She’ll be right” attitude ensures that the problems are practically permanent.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

But seems to be in the “right context’?

Since the concept of good design is limited or mysterious to some, I shall give a small real world example.

A friend of mine, a doctor, is a serial investor in property in several cities. He mistakenly bought a series of apartments in the one building in Canberra several years ago. They all leak. I inspected them for him and it is not just because they were poorly built, it is due to bad design, the levels are wrong and the detail unnecessarily complicated, clumsy and vulnerable to movement.

The tenants have been in ongoing negotiation with the developer who is frankly smugly arrogant because he knows he can get away with just about anything in this town, where bad design and construction is: “Sorry, can you explain that to me again?”

It is so unnecessary. If the developer hadn’t got his nephew to do the drawings and actually employed someone competent to design the building, the building would have been more efficient, gone up quicker, with less or no problems and the tenants would not be having to pay for very expensive remedial repairs and alterations, and he would not be wasting his time arguing with them over problems he created but has no intention of fixing.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back1:24 pm 15 May 15

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Yes yes, something needs to be done.

It should be vibrant, modern, clean, green and attract a range of visitors.

Why can’t those pesky developers pay for it?

Why can’t those pesky developers stop stuffing everything up simply because they can?

Hippocrates’ greatest contribution to Medicine was:

“As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.”

Good design is profitable. Bad design is just sheer laziness.

Good design is only profitable in the correct context.

“Correct context” is that a euphemism for “Not here”, “Not today”, “Not Canberra”.

Do you actually know what it is, or is it so foreign as to be repugnant, or a total mystery to you and everyone you know?

Doing things badly and over and over again because they don’t work is expensive.

Building dead spots into city spaces and shopping malls kills businesses and is expensive. Nearly all shopping malls have these, and seem bleeding obvious and unnecessary to me, but it seems only gets discovered by tenants and management (both slow on the uptake) belatedly.

That awful development in Manuka, with Coles in it is a good example of exactly that. It has been a desolate meat grinder for the shops and restaurants that foolishly set up there and has I believe contributed to the slow death of the rest of Manuka. It was totally unnnecessary. But maybe you can’t see that or why.

Frank Lloyd Wright quipped “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” As much ivy as there is in Canberra, there just isn’t enough to do the job.

You seem very quick to jump to conclusions. I am not a fan of lots of the recent development in Canberra, because much of it is shallow, poorly thought out and not well executed.

Don’t forget this is just a car park.

Since I don’t frequent the area I don’t know whether it is “free” ie the government subsidises your driving habits, or paid parking in which case it makes as much money as car parking can provide.

At a stroke of the pen this relatively worthless, nasty space will make a lot of money for a small number of people. “Profitable” all depends on who and how many fingers are going to be in this pie and just how gross the pie will end up being. Also just how much of it gets wasted in redesigns, delays, changes and ultimately the almost inevitably bad and dysfunctional design.

There will be those who make money out of the end result but won’t have to live with it, and the only certainty is there will be losers, everyone else. The other landlords in the area, the other tenants and businesses and the public who will be enjoying the cold winter shadows for as long as this looms over them ie forever.

wildturkeycanoe said :

If anybody was to build a house looking like that the government would surely deny the plans for aesthetic reasons.

The Government can’t and doesn’t deny plans based on aesthetics. 99% of what is out there would not get built if that was the case.

Unfortunately it can and does deny plans for anything “different”. Or for some other bizarre and often contradictory reasons. Much like the general public, who they represent (or pretend to).

Bad, dysfunctional design is the norm and usually gets the green light.

Greedy, selfish design greases a lot of wheels and since it really has no limits, creeps up on you and probes for weaknesses and inattention. The next thing you know you are stuck with it for as long as it makes money for someone and then another ten to twenty years whilst it sits there and rots and rots everything around it.

I am wondering whether is development is a typical gambit, trying it on to see just how far they can push it, and if there is no resistance you’ll end up with it. If you do resist you’ll get something moderately less awful and smugly think of that as a win, when it may have been the objective all along.

Either way the decision will not be made by the public, in the Assembly or even necessarily in TAMs. It will be made in a quiet corner of the Commonwealth Club.

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Yes yes, something needs to be done.

It should be vibrant, modern, clean, green and attract a range of visitors.

Why can’t those pesky developers pay for it?

Why can’t those pesky developers stop stuffing everything up simply because they can?

Hippocrates’ greatest contribution to Medicine was:

“As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.”

Good design is profitable. Bad design is just sheer laziness.

Good design is only profitable in the correct context.

“Correct context” is that a euphemism for “Not here”, “Not today”, “Not Canberra”.

Do you actually know what it is, or is it so foreign as to be repugnant, or a total mystery to you and everyone you know?

Doing things badly and over and over again because they don’t work is expensive.

Building dead spots into city spaces and shopping malls kills businesses and is expensive. Nearly all shopping malls have these, and seem bleeding obvious and unnecessary to me, but it seems only gets discovered by tenants and management (both slow on the uptake) belatedly.

That awful development in Manuka, with Coles in it is a good example of exactly that. It has been a desolate meat grinder for the shops and restaurants that foolishly set up there and has I believe contributed to the slow death of the rest of Manuka. It was totally unnnecessary. But maybe you can’t see that or why.

Frank Lloyd Wright quipped “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” As much ivy as there is in Canberra, there just isn’t enough to do the job.

+1. Bravo.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Yes yes, something needs to be done.

It should be vibrant, modern, clean, green and attract a range of visitors.

Why can’t those pesky developers pay for it?

Why can’t those pesky developers stop stuffing everything up simply because they can?

Hippocrates’ greatest contribution to Medicine was:

“As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.”

Good design is profitable. Bad design is just sheer laziness.

Good design is only profitable in the correct context.

“Correct context” is that a euphemism for “Not here”, “Not today”, “Not Canberra”.

Do you actually know what it is, or is it so foreign as to be repugnant, or a total mystery to you and everyone you know?

Doing things badly and over and over again because they don’t work is expensive.

Building dead spots into city spaces and shopping malls kills businesses and is expensive. Nearly all shopping malls have these, and seem bleeding obvious and unnecessary to me, but it seems only gets discovered by tenants and management (both slow on the uptake) belatedly.

That awful development in Manuka, with Coles in it is a good example of exactly that. It has been a desolate meat grinder for the shops and restaurants that foolishly set up there and has I believe contributed to the slow death of the rest of Manuka. It was totally unnnecessary. But maybe you can’t see that or why.

Frank Lloyd Wright quipped “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” As much ivy as there is in Canberra, there just isn’t enough to do the job.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back6:53 am 15 May 15

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Yes yes, something needs to be done.

It should be vibrant, modern, clean, green and attract a range of visitors.

Why can’t those pesky developers pay for it?

Why can’t those pesky developers stop stuffing everything up simply because they can?

Hippocrates’ greatest contribution to Medicine was:

“As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.”

Good design is profitable. Bad design is just sheer laziness.

Good design is only profitable in the correct context.

wildturkeycanoe6:48 am 15 May 15

I’d never heard of the vertical village until reading these posts. Upon looking into an article and seeing the pics, I am astounded at what they would classify as a legal structure. If anybody was to build a house looking like that the government would surely deny the plans for aesthetic reasons. It looks 1000 times worse than the Nishi apartments and serves what purpose exactly? “Cultural, artistic and sporting activities” Are apparently its main goal. Good luck getting crowds out there in single digit temperatures. Without windows and/or some kind of protection against the elements there is no way art could be displayed or appreciated, especially with a nice drizzly rain being blown in sideways. As for “The concept behind the project builds on the idea of a town square”, it is 25 minutes from the city center. Not exactly a central square.
Looking at their web page and Facebook comments, seems like the whole thing is a flop with no future events to speak of and even seems to be not open at all. What an absolute waste and eyesore.
Even the photos showing off the place have few people in them except for the rent-a-friends. Sure, it might look fine lit up with colorful lights but so does a rock and roll stage at night time. The next morning it still remains just a temporary pile of steel that serves little purpose than point to where all the action is supposed to be.

sepi said :

QIC does seem to have an amazing amount of power.

I wrote to TAMS suggesting some one way road changes or signage to prevent road congestion around Genge/Akuna sts. I also made some suggestions for the future QIC development on the last open air carpark near civic, about not having tiny driveways right near existing intersections etc.

A TAMS person rang me back and explained it was nothing to do with them, QIC would be able to do whatever they want with that block, right down to choosing where their driveways for thousands of cars will go.

TAMS has given up I think.

If this is correct, no wonder they are able to design the mall to encourage people inside. It seems as if the Government had abdicated it’s responsibilities completely. There is no hope for revitalising Civic in a meaningful way that works for people, as opposed to developers.

sepi said :

QIC does seem to have an amazing amount of power.

I wrote to TAMS suggesting some one way road changes or signage to prevent road congestion around Genge/Akuna sts. I also made some suggestions for the future QIC development on the last open air carpark near civic, about not having tiny driveways right near existing intersections etc.

A TAMS person rang me back and explained it was nothing to do with them, QIC would be able to do whatever they want with that block, right down to choosing where their driveways for thousands of cars will go.

TAMS has given up I think.

Last open air car park? I can think of at least 5 eyesores still remaining.

Funky1 said :

Most of you seem to have forgotten the new kid on the block. The Chinese consortium that bought the Casino and plan to redevelop that whole precinct. No doubt they’ll bring new life to that area but again at what cost to Garema Place and central Civic.

Judging by the sort of environment that casinos create, the new life involved won’t be “very elevated”.

QIC does seem to have an amazing amount of power.

I wrote to TAMS suggesting some one way road changes or signage to prevent road congestion around Genge/Akuna sts. I also made some suggestions for the future QIC development on the last open air carpark near civic, about not having tiny driveways right near existing intersections etc.

A TAMS person rang me back and explained it was nothing to do with them, QIC would be able to do whatever they want with that block, right down to choosing where their driveways for thousands of cars will go.

TAMS has given up I think.

Most of you seem to have forgotten the new kid on the block. The Chinese consortium that bought the Casino and plan to redevelop that whole precinct. No doubt they’ll bring new life to that area but again at what cost to Garema Place and central Civic.

I’m not familiar with the whole deal.

What is the taxpayer doing paying for this? Let alone letting any of our public servants getting involved in something they nothing about (just about everything).

Definitely, all the Government should have done is rented out the “Pop-up space”. With a get out date, after all it is a “pop-up”

The organisers might have pulled out their finger if it was their own money on the line.

Here is the material I quickly sourced on the pop-up:

The notion:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-05/entertainment-space-at-westside/6072062

2014 07 23: The announcement of “The project will be built and managed by the Stomping Ground Collective, which includes some of the minds behind popular Braddon cafe Lonsdale Street Roasters.”:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/popup-village-to-bring-life-to-lake-burley-griffin-20140723-zvy9s.html

$800,000 to be completed by 2014 09.

2014 09 04: “Work has already commenced” with nothing to show for it:

http://news.domain.com.au/domain/real-estate-news/shipping-containers-will-create-west-basin-popup-shops-20140904-10chuj.html

2014 10 29: Poppin’ up it aint:

http://citynews.com.au/2014/canberra-confidential-poppin-aint/

2014 11 02: “First shipping containers arrive on site” 2 months after “completion date”:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/shipping-containers-hit-the-shores-for-west-side-popup-story-20141102-11eqqv.html

2015 02 05: To open by Canberra Day.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-05/shipping-container-structure-on-shores-of-lake-burley-griffin/6071750

2015 03 03: The opening that didn’t happen.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-03/shipping-container-retail-complex-to-open-this-weekend/6278408

2015 03 03: Andrew Barr anounces Art Not Apart for 2015 03 14 (never happened to my knowledge):

http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/barr/2015/pop-up-village-renews-west-basin

2015 05 14: $950,000 and still a construction site. A remarkably quiet one.

Mark of Sydney said :

Paul Costigan said :

Dear all

Some people like to be inside when its cold and others who love Canberra in winter like to be outside in the Canberra winter sunshine. That’s diversity. The former Civic plazas were busy places at any time of the year. I used to frequent them as did many others. But they are no longer an attractive place to be.

and yes, meanwhile be wary of those locust swarms. At the moment others may wonder what people in Dickson, Reid and Yarralumla (and others) are on about – but you may think different if the Minister for Urban Development’s (The Chief Minister’s) locust swarms were to appear in your street.

Dear vintage123. Your idea on a think tank is close to one suggestion I propose in my next piece, next Wednesday. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but am aware that the planning bureaucracy and the property council are not steering us towards anything sustainable or innovative. More soon.

If NewActon, Braddon (and Kingston Foreshore?) are the result of locust swarms then bring on the locusts. IMO, innovative developments like these, with minimal input from residents’ action groups or the National Capital Authority, are the best thing to have happened to Canberra in recent years.

With due respect to your expertise Paul, I don’t think we need you, the Chief Minister or resident groups to decide where cafes should be located to catch the sun. Within broad planning guidelines that take into account competing interests of those can be adversely affected by decisions on land use, I’m quite okay with the business operators, who have skin in the game, to choose where to site their cafes.

Mark, you should factor in the market dominance of QIC into your equation. Cafe owners get seriously pushed around by QIC, so it’s not as simple as leaving it those with “skin in the game”. The game has a 10 tonne elephant involved, an elephant which is running amok.

vintage123 said :

If my memory serves me correct, wasn’t this a rapid acquisition evolutionary design, solicitated vide bypassing a conventional tender process instead direct sourcing to only one company who showed interest in the project. In other words a recipe for disaster and the complete wrong way to spend public monies in an accountable, affordable and transparent manner.

I wasn’t paying attention at the time, but I think a well-meaning group who managed to make a success of an actual short-term “pop-up” venue were given the joint, and were very quickly way out of their depth. This is what happens when ministers get invited to partake of a sherbert at an opening night and get starry-eyed and excited around some wee hipster socialites. Once planning decisions were allowed to skirt around legitimate decision-making and critical analysis, this sort of open slather was inevitable. Now we all get to rue the day.

farnarkler said :

Come on let’s get real here. For three or four months of the year you don’t want to be out in the elements in Civic. What exactly do people want to see in Civic? We’ve got a merry-go-round, a few fountains and a big movie screen type thing. Ok they’re not fantastic but really, what do you want to be put in Civic which would make it more vibrant? Turn Garema Court into a residential building? I hear a lot of moaning but not a lot of solutions. By the way, the next place the locust swarm will land is around the new building where the Canberra Club and the Wig and Pen used to be.

You need to experience more of those gloriously sunny Canberra winter days. Three or four months is stretching it big time!

rubaiyat said :

Masquara said :

Million-dollar fail: the ACT Government disclosed on 666 this morning that the “popup” vertical village is costing the ACT ratepayer $950,000 plus, and that’s for an expected shelf-life of 18 months. How are they going to recoup $13,000 a month plus interest for us? Notably, during the interview David (?Dawes?) was asked how on earth the structure is “portable” as he claimed. He was unable to explain how a heavily welded structure was going to be able to dismantled and reconstructed in other parts of the city, or how much such relocations would cost. Assume a further $250,000 per “relocation”? The Futsal slab was unsightly; anything constructed on it was going to be ugly.

This is exactly what I am talking about.

Bad design, badly sited, badly planned and badly built by people who should never have been let near a pencil let alone a budget.

The whole thing smacked of “Me Tooism” right from the beginning. The site is really inaccessible, remote and undesirable. How an isolated and not very attractive “attraction was going to draw anyone out to that windswept, dark nook and was supposed to work is beyond me.

Obviously Blind Freddy didn’t sign off on this.

Put it down as a monument to the No Idea planners reaching into their grab bag sampler of things other people have done, but the planners don’t understand how they worked.

If my memory serves me correct, wasn’t this a rapid acquisition evolutionary design, solicitated vide bypassing a conventional tender process instead direct sourcing to only one company who showed interest in the project. In other words a recipe for disaster and the complete wrong way to spend public monies in an accountable, affordable and transparent manner.

Masquara said :

Million-dollar fail: the ACT Government disclosed on 666 this morning that the “popup” vertical village is costing the ACT ratepayer $950,000 plus, and that’s for an expected shelf-life of 18 months. How are they going to recoup $13,000 a month plus interest for us? Notably, during the interview David (?Dawes?) was asked how on earth the structure is “portable” as he claimed. He was unable to explain how a heavily welded structure was going to be able to dismantled and reconstructed in other parts of the city, or how much such relocations would cost. Assume a further $250,000 per “relocation”? The Futsal slab was unsightly; anything constructed on it was going to be ugly.

This is exactly what I am talking about.

Bad design, badly sited, badly planned and badly built by people who should never have been let near a pencil let alone a budget.

The whole thing smacked of “Me Tooism” right from the beginning. The site is really inaccessible, remote and undesirable. How an isolated and not very attractive “attraction was going to draw anyone out to that windswept, dark nook and was supposed to work is beyond me.

Obviously Blind Freddy didn’t sign off on this.

Put it down as a monument to the No Idea planners reaching into their grab bag sampler of things other people have done, but the planners don’t understand how they worked.

Everyone is essentially saying ‘we need more people in Civic’.

So you either (or both)

– increase the demand by having shops that attract people – unlikely to happen, although a corridor of restaurants and bars creating a ‘foodie strip’ with outdoor tables could work (at least for nights and weekends) like it does in that small area from Gus’ and around and also the row near Sammy’s (whether or not Civic can sustain more eateries is another matter). Otherwise, what shops are there to create demand that either don’t already exist or which aren’t in Braddon (bakeries etc)?

– increase the number of people in the city, by constructing more apartments. This will in turn stimulate more demand for various shops/restaurants.

But the latter requires a knockdown and rebuild, at least in a number of areas, because the current structures are not going to work. You can keep shops along the street level and apartments above.

Civic in its current state isn’t going to work any better, tweaking around the edges

Two other projects to put on the table:

Sydney and Melbourne Buildings really should have a complete overhaul that opens up the courtyards in the middle and provides good and obvious access through and to the upper levels.

The buildings have “good bones” and are just waiting on a good architect to rescue them from 40 years of neglect. No Standing Zone shows what can be done, ignoring the dumpsters and winter cold in the shade.

ahoy_hoy said :

great points all around. I think part of the problem here is the actual shops present in the precinct. Some of them are great and long-standing Canberra business. One thing I always though attracted/created a good civic atmosphere was “window shoppers” and “cafes” (where people catch-up and often watch the window shoppers!)

As much as I like many of the merchants in the Garema place area, I don’t think their shops are too conducive to window shopping. Certainly the foot traffic doesn’t seem to be the same as inside the Canberra centre. Next time you are in Civic, have a look around (near the chess board area) and see if the windows will catch your eye long enough to stop – maybe one or two shops only. Now try the same thing in the fashion area inside the Canberra centre.

I think we can’t have the Garema place region looking like a suburban “local” shops and expect people to treat it as anything other than that.

You overlooked the NW corner of Garema Place. The narrow passage running past Guses. This is going gang busters, which shows what happens when you squeeze people into a sociable space.

Tenants of Shopping Malls are forced to spend a reasonable amount on fit out and are at intervals compelled by management to refurbish to keep up to date. If the same applied to the tenants around Garema Place the problem would never have arisen in the first place. Not strictly the tenants fault as they have had to contend with an inept government bureaucracy AND landlords who just wanting milk their property cow without looking after it.

There are no buildings between Petrie Plaza and Constitution Ave that couldn’t do with a good bulldozing.

Even the newer Public Service slums west of that should be served with some precision bombing.

Let Obama know that they are being used by ISIS and stand back.

Million-dollar fail: the ACT Government disclosed on 666 this morning that the “popup” vertical village is costing the ACT ratepayer $950,000 plus, and that’s for an expected shelf-life of 18 months. How are they going to recoup $13,000 a month plus interest for us? Notably, during the interview David (?Dawes?) was asked how on earth the structure is “portable” as he claimed. He was unable to explain how a heavily welded structure was going to be able to dismantled and reconstructed in other parts of the city, or how much such relocations would cost. Assume a further $250,000 per “relocation”? The Futsal slab was unsightly; anything constructed on it was going to be ugly.

Postalgeek said :

I wouldn’t be using Kingston Foreshore as a shining light of development, unless there’s some magic undo button they haven’t yet pressed. With all that planning, they have still managed to royally fk up the lake loop for cyclists, joggers and walkers. No arterial passage there. No, far better to disrupt it completely with dirt tracks, winding detours, channeling users into pinch points and cafes, or channel them onto roads that double as carparks, and let people find their own way.

Better yet, put stop signs instead of pedestrian crossings at shared path intersections so cars don’t have to yield to more vulnerable users.

Not sure what you are talking about and which bits are supposed to be sarcastic/ironic.

Kingston Foreshores never cut anything off for cyclists, because there was nothing. The development is bounded by the Wetlands to the NE. Pedestrians can walk, through only restricted by ongoing building works.

Kingston Foreshores is patchy at best, just Canberra’s attempts a waterfront, unlinked to just about anything else. At least (or is that at last) it faces north and is protected from the cold southerly winter winds!

The Wetlands look very tatty. Either put through board walks or demolish all infrastructure, put a water barrier all round, and let nature and the wildlife have a breather from all human interference.

Mark of Sydney3:05 pm 14 May 15

Postalgeek said :

Mark of Sydney said :

If NewActon, Braddon (and Kingston Foreshore?) are the result of locust swarms then bring on the locusts. IMO, innovative developments like these, with minimal input from residents’ action groups or the National Capital Authority, are the best thing to have happened to Canberra in recent years.

I wouldn’t be using Kingston Foreshore as a shining light of development, unless there’s some magic undo button they haven’t yet pressed. With all that planning, they have still managed to royally fk up the lake loop for cyclists, joggers and walkers. No arterial passage there. No, far better to disrupt it completely with dirt tracks, winding detours, channeling users into pinch points and cafes, or channel them onto roads that double as carparks, and let people find their own way.

Better yet, put stop signs instead of pedestrian crossings at shared path intersections so cars don’t have to yield to more vulnerable users.

Well, for me Kingston Foreshore ticks almost all the right boxes. So much so that I, along with thousands of others, have bought there. Yes, they should have included bike lanes along Eastlake Parade, but the lack of won’t stop me cycling when my apartment is finished. Otherwise, I’m very happy with the way the precinct is taking shape. And I suspect I’m not alone.

great points all around. I think part of the problem here is the actual shops present in the precinct. Some of them are great and long-standing Canberra business. One thing I always though attracted/created a good civic atmosphere was “window shoppers” and “cafes” (where people catch-up and often watch the window shoppers!)

As much as I like many of the merchants in the Garema place area, I don’t think their shops are too conducive to window shopping. Certainly the foot traffic doesn’t seem to be the same as inside the Canberra centre. Next time you are in Civic, have a look around (near the chess board area) and see if the windows will catch your eye long enough to stop – maybe one or two shops only. Now try the same thing in the fashion area inside the Canberra centre.

I think we can’t have the Garema place region looking like a suburban “local” shops and expect people to treat it as anything other than that.

Mark of Sydney said :

If NewActon, Braddon (and Kingston Foreshore?) are the result of locust swarms then bring on the locusts. IMO, innovative developments like these, with minimal input from residents’ action groups or the National Capital Authority, are the best thing to have happened to Canberra in recent years.

I wouldn’t be using Kingston Foreshore as a shining light of development, unless there’s some magic undo button they haven’t yet pressed. With all that planning, they have still managed to royally fk up the lake loop for cyclists, joggers and walkers. No arterial passage there. No, far better to disrupt it completely with dirt tracks, winding detours, channeling users into pinch points and cafes, or channel them onto roads that double as carparks, and let people find their own way. Better yet, put stop signs instead of pedestrian crossings at shared path intersections so cars don’t have to yield to more vulnerable users.

Felix the Cat2:01 pm 14 May 15

sepi said :

Parking is a big problem. I like to wander the shops outside a little, but I don’t really want a long freezing trek from the car.
gungahline shops you can park right underneath, then wander outside along the shopfronts. it is much nicer than civic.

Yes agree. Surface parking is such a gigantic waste of land that could be used for either more shops/cafes or community uses (such as parks). Parking should be in the basement of buildings. Hard to do for existing buildings but for every new office/shopping mall it should be mandatory.

Parking is a big problem. I like to wander the shops outside a little, but I don’t really want a long freezing trek from the car.
gungahline shops you can park right underneath, then wander outside along the shopfronts. it is much nicer than civic.

The truth is, having gone through the process innumerable times, that existing planning and development regulations seem to have been designed with the sole objective of preventing good outcomes. With the exception of fire regulations, and even those have been so fiddled with as to become mind bendingly complicated.

Mark of Sydney said :

[I’m quite okay with the business operators, who have skin in the game, to choose where to site their cafes.

But they don’t.

The café owners don’t build, they rent, whatever is available, and like most renters despair of what is on offer.

In effect you are saying, exactly as so many others are: Do nothing!

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Yes yes, something needs to be done.

It should be vibrant, modern, clean, green and attract a range of visitors.

Why can’t those pesky developers pay for it?

Why can’t those pesky developers stop stuffing everything up simply because they can?

Hippocrates’ greatest contribution to Medicine was:

“As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least, to do no harm.”

Good design is profitable. Bad design is just sheer laziness.

Mark of Sydney12:30 pm 14 May 15

Paul Costigan said :

Dear all

Some people like to be inside when its cold and others who love Canberra in winter like to be outside in the Canberra winter sunshine. That’s diversity. The former Civic plazas were busy places at any time of the year. I used to frequent them as did many others. But they are no longer an attractive place to be.

and yes, meanwhile be wary of those locust swarms. At the moment others may wonder what people in Dickson, Reid and Yarralumla (and others) are on about – but you may think different if the Minister for Urban Development’s (The Chief Minister’s) locust swarms were to appear in your street.

Dear vintage123. Your idea on a think tank is close to one suggestion I propose in my next piece, next Wednesday. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but am aware that the planning bureaucracy and the property council are not steering us towards anything sustainable or innovative. More soon.

If NewActon, Braddon (and Kingston Foreshore?) are the result of locust swarms then bring on the locusts. IMO, innovative developments like these, with minimal input from residents’ action groups or the National Capital Authority, are the best thing to have happened to Canberra in recent years.

With due respect to your expertise Paul, I don’t think we need you, the Chief Minister or resident groups to decide where cafes should be located to catch the sun. Within broad planning guidelines that take into account competing interests of those can be adversely affected by decisions on land use, I’m quite okay with the business operators, who have skin in the game, to choose where to site their cafes.

Paul Costigan12:13 pm 14 May 15

Dear rubaiyat

sorry missed your last comment in my reply. Agree the whole Civic area is a failure. And I share your let’s not be sacred about the future of City Hill; presently it is a useless mound that serves no purpose at all. And I know there are heritage people who will now trash my letterbox for saying that. And what is that new silver monument on the east side?

You also reminded me that a couple of decades ago it was hard to find a cafe that was located to catch the afternoon sun in Canberra. Gus’ Cafe was it. It is a lot better now but your thoughts are on track – make sure future ones are placed correctly.

and knowing a bit about Canberra’s planning and who did what and when – I know that traffic/roads planners always ruled the day. But that’s another long story for another day.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back12:08 pm 14 May 15

Yes yes, something needs to be done.

It should be vibrant, modern, clean, green and attract a range of visitors.

Why can’t those pesky developers pay for it?

Paul Costigan12:02 pm 14 May 15

Dear all

Some people like to be inside when its cold and others who love Canberra in winter like to be outside in the Canberra winter sunshine. That’s diversity. The former Civic plazas were busy places at any time of the year. I used to frequent them as did many others. But they are no longer an attractive place to be.

and yes, meanwhile be wary of those locust swarms. At the moment others may wonder what people in Dickson, Reid and Yarralumla (and others) are on about – but you may think different if the Minister for Urban Development’s (The Chief Minister’s) locust swarms were to appear in your street.

Dear vintage123. Your idea on a think tank is close to one suggestion I propose in my next piece, next Wednesday. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but am aware that the planning bureaucracy and the property council are not steering us towards anything sustainable or innovative. More soon.

Canberra needs a New Centre, relegating the existing mediocre, poorly planned and built area to be demolished or returned to bushland or overgrown with Moreton Bay Figs to become a jungle tourist attraction a la Ankor Wat.

I know it will get howls of outrage but City Hill, which is nothing but a huge traffic island, should be flattened or completely hollowed out with a clean transport hub under, that cross connects north-south and east-west. A Big Picture (very unlikely) VFT station to the outside world or at least the airport, or Medium Picture centre of a Canberra network initially linking the Inner North and Inner South, extending outwards later.

Ground level should be a suitable glassed over and sheltered cafe/shopping space to suit our summer/winter climate and a ring of new development surrounding. Importantly all sides are to be easily accessible for pedestrians, and cars diverted elsewhere.

The City’s failures are 100% due to being designed for the cars. End of story. Northbourne Ave cuts the City in half. It is the reason hardly anyone goes to the unattractive less accessible West Side or can circulate around the city easily. All the buildings lining Northbourne are as dead as doornails. The rest is even bleaker car parks.

Start again, and this time work with a heart, new life, new workplaces, new usable open spaces, and for heavens sake work with the sun and the climate. We surely can’t be that terminally stupid still in 2015!

wildturkeycanoe6:28 am 14 May 15

Cover the entire area with a glass canopy so it is dry when it rains and warm in winter, that might make it a little more inviting than the cold, windy, leaf-littered alley that it is currently.

bryansworld said :

It’s not just the negative impact of the shops inside the Mall attracting people away from other parts of the City. The design of the Mall itself encourgaes people inside – what’s with all the blank walls and fake shopfronts? How did the City’s planners allow that to happen? It’s bad enough for them to be a pushover, but to let the developers get away with sneaky design tricks like this is outrageous.

I see you have the same peeve as me.

The single reason so much of Canberra is dead. Nothing at street level. Or Public Service offices with the windows painted over.

I know most people just drive into the colonic car entrance, up the pimple faced concrete backsides of all these buildings, and few even bother checking what is on the outside, but that makes for horrific cities.

Does suit those short sighted people whose world is bounded by the cup holder between the seats and the makeup mirror behind the sun visor, and are not only completely indifferent to everything else, but totally unaware that it even exists.

Come on let’s get real here. For three or four months of the year you don’t want to be out in the elements in Civic. What exactly do people want to see in Civic? We’ve got a merry-go-round, a few fountains and a big movie screen type thing. Ok they’re not fantastic but really, what do you want to be put in Civic which would make it more vibrant? Turn Garema Court into a residential building? I hear a lot of moaning but not a lot of solutions. By the way, the next place the locust swarm will land is around the new building where the Canberra Club and the Wig and Pen used to be.

Hi Paul.

We could lobby CBD Limited for the creation of an architectural and design sub committee and or working group. Or something of that nature such as a subordinate think tank covering ideas on how civic could become a sustainable urban space with new aesthetically pleasing developments that address climate change adaption and provide locals with a city centre to be proud of.

It’s not just the negative impact of the shops inside the Mall attracting people away from other parts of the City. The design of the Mall itself encourgaes people inside – what’s with all the blank walls and fake shopfronts? How did the City’s planners allow that to happen? It’s bad enough for them to be a pushover, but to let the developers get away with sneaky design tricks like this is outrageous.

Paul Costigan2:44 pm 13 May 15

and yes dungfungus – the developers and the planning bureaucrats are moving across the city very much like ‘a plague of locusts’.

Paul Costigan2:31 pm 13 May 15

Dear vintage123

Thanks for your comments. I definitely agree that changes to planning requirements are required to encourage the rejuvenation of Civic. I also agree that a new mix of residential and commercial is essential.

That’s the easy part. The problem is that there is absolutely no trust in the current managers of planning and development in Canberra and no leadership coming from the Chief Minister (as Minister for Urban Development).

The current mob would allow developers to mow down anything and everything and plonk down a host bland box buildings and then they would move onto their next projects – leaving Civic to be as boring as some of the suburban centres in cities around Australia and elsewhere.

It is going to require another set of hands to guide this. It will require intelligence and creativity and a lot more. Despite my statements about how bad things have been allowed to get in Civic, I can see this as a wonderful chance to do something different and to put Civic (those bits outside the mall) back on the map for locals and tourists. I think it can be done.

More on this in next week’s piece. Plus I suspect I may have to write another couple of posts on Civic as the issues and ideas keep coming.

Hey dungfungus, your analogy to locusts had me in stitches. Quite true actually.

vintage123 said :

Hi Paul.

The current planning guidelines for civic are not conducive to development. Specifically building heights and set backs and zoning. As such developers take a path of least resistance and have focused energy into projects along new Acton and the foreshore where favourable conditions and incentives to develop exist. Furthermore most of these developments are single dimension in that it is vacant carpark like areas whereby a build up approach is undertaken, as opposed to civic where an integrated or demolish to construct model would be required.

The only real viable solution I can envisage is to introduce considerable incentive for developers to develop the site into a combined high density residential and retail precinct. Obviously this would require a re jig of the current planning guidelines and regulations. It would also pose a significant logistical challenge in consolidating the areas worth or lease and commercial arrangements.

However if this was achieved then I believe the centre would become more appealing, more useful and more attractive for residents and visitors.

vintage123 said :

Hi Paul.

The current planning guidelines for civic are not conducive to development. Specifically building heights and set backs and zoning. As such developers take a path of least resistance and have focused energy into projects along new Acton and the foreshore where favourable conditions and incentives to develop exist. Furthermore most of these developments are single dimension in that it is vacant carpark like areas whereby a build up approach is undertaken, as opposed to civic where an integrated or demolish to construct model would be required.

The only real viable solution I can envisage is to introduce considerable incentive for developers to develop the site into a combined high density residential and retail precinct. Obviously this would require a re jig of the current planning guidelines and regulations. It would also pose a significant logistical challenge in consolidating the areas worth or lease and commercial arrangements.

However if this was achieved then I believe the centre would become more appealing, more useful and more attractive for residents and visitors.

I am not convinced Canberra has the capacity to convert any more “future visions’ into reality.
The two factors that are now missing are people and finance.
The current areas of activity are New Acton and Braddon (the futsal pop up has gone nowhere) and the nomads making this happen previously went to other areas like Garema Place, Bunda Street. Years ago, the Boulevard was the in place. The next cool destination will be Constitution Avenue.
Its called churning.
It’s like a single plague of locusts. You can see where they are and you can (sadly) see where they have been.
At the same time their scouts are scoping the next “green pasture”.
On the money side, well our Government is “overcommitted” already and will be broke soon.

Hi Paul.

The current planning guidelines for civic are not conducive to development. Specifically building heights and set backs and zoning. As such developers take a path of least resistance and have focused energy into projects along new Acton and the foreshore where favourable conditions and incentives to develop exist. Furthermore most of these developments are single dimension in that it is vacant carpark like areas whereby a build up approach is undertaken, as opposed to civic where an integrated or demolish to construct model would be required.

The only real viable solution I can envisage is to introduce considerable incentive for developers to develop the site into a combined high density residential and retail precinct. Obviously this would require a re jig of the current planning guidelines and regulations. It would also pose a significant logistical challenge in consolidating the areas worth or lease and commercial arrangements.

However if this was achieved then I believe the centre would become more appealing, more useful and more attractive for residents and visitors.

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