Like many small towns, Canberra sometimes seems unashamedly hell-bent on opening its floodgates to rampant and irretrievable development. The number of commercial and residential projects currently underway and expected developments to come, are all signs of this progress… something of the sweet smell of bitumen and the melodious sounds of a nearby construction site must surely sound as sweet as the ‘ka-ching!’ of money tumbling into the ACT government’s coffers.
Mindless comparisons with other national capitals have been made to boost the notion that bigger has to be better, if only to compete with all our bigger brothers. As unrealistic as these comparisons have been, the echo of that eternal question keeps reverberating: “Is bigger, better?” I hear the whispered affirmation by what seems to be an acquiesent majority, “yes it probably is”, but more importantly it should be asked to whom?
Canberra’s growth has certainly done us all proud, we have many more sources of entertainment, more international artists actually pay us a visit, and some of them are not yet in the retirement phase of their careers, although it is interesting to note that many international, hot artists still prefer to hold a concert in Bowral rather than perform for us here. More choices as to what to see, do and eat for the weekend makes us all rather complacent about the amount of concrete being poured over what was just another vacant kangaroo-infested paddock.
But despite all this wonderful concrete, tarmac and steel buildings, will Canberra be anything but a very adolescent city desperate to pave over its appearance of immaturity and its obviously drab perspectives on architecture and design. Where is Canberra’s modern day contribution to proper urban planning and design, or its architectural answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower, Rome’s Coliseum or D.C.’s Congress? Where is Canberra’s heart and planned ‘garden-city’ soul? Perhaps the city has sold both off to the highest bidder over a vacant kangaroo-infested paddock and is not looking back.