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What will be left in the old Civic?

By johnboy - 5 November 2006 39

[Garema Place from the expanded Canberra Centre]

I know it’s more than a little late in the piece to have misgivings, but I’d just like to ask now that it’s too late: What the hell are they doing to Civic?

The expansion of the Canberra Centre is big, I would suggest that those downplaying its size haven’t walked the length of both levels. While it’s funny to hear that the roof leaks, it seems likely these teething problems will eventually be fixed. Things in this hulking arcology do seem to largely be bigger and better than their competitors in Garema Place, City Walk and the Melbourne and Sydney buildings. Will I go to Dymocks when the enourmous Borders is just around the corner? Will I go to the ever crappier Greater Union when the 8-screen Dendy Cinema is just upstairs?

Probably not, and I actually worry about these things.

So what’s the problem?

Well I am not an urban planner. But I do know that most thinking on urban planning, and my own experience, suggests that mixed use creates the most pleasant urban environment. That’s a mixture of housing, offices, retail, bars, restaurants and other entertainments. The most pleasant cities tend to have fallen on this model through historical accident.

The Canberra Centre’s expansion seems to be directly contrary to this. It’s a step back in time to dormitory suburbs feeding the retail zone and it’s entirely reliant on cars to move the people from one to the other and back.

To be honest though the thing that bugs me the most is the way the centre is going to suck the life out of the public domain.

Let’s not overly romanticise Civic’s past. It’s very rarely functioned as much of a city centre. But at it’s best it is still a place where people can see, and be seen, in public.

You can stage a protest, I can report it, passers by can see it and join in if they agree (or disagree).

Within the sterilised and air-conditoned centre there is no public discourse. As RiotACT discovered you can’t even get permission to take photographs inside the centre. You can’t even be refused permission and get a reason why, you just get run around and blanked.

It’s too late now. But I think in 20 years time people will look back at Section 84 and view it as one of the biggest failures of planning in Canberra’s very poor history since the abolition of the NCDC.

What’s Your opinion?

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39 Responses to
What will be left in the old Civic?
Thumper 10:30 am 06 Nov 06

Nah, that’s old school terubo. Get with it man!!!


bonfire 10:28 am 06 Nov 06

you dont need permission to take photos in the canberra centre.

it is a public place.

of course they can ask you to leave, but it remains a public place.

civic has been constantly evolving, i think the worst thing that happened was surrendering public roads to create the monaro mall.

its been downhill ever since.

terubo 10:28 am 06 Nov 06

The ability to execute wives?

Thumper 10:25 am 06 Nov 06


maybe JB is a closet Monarchist?

I’m not, I like the monarchy anyway.

Randy Andy should be king. he has all the essential attributes. War hero, womaniser, boozer. What more can you ask for in a King!

S4anta 9:39 am 06 Nov 06


you sounded a little like the Prince of Wales having a spray against London’s architecture just then…

emd 9:34 am 06 Nov 06

I had a look last week – it’s bloody huge! There are some shops I haven’t seen before, but really it’s just another mega-mall with the same old chain stores. I’ll be avoiding Civic til the mess is gone and I can get a carpark again. As It probably will suck the life out of the Civic retail sector until the city grows big enough to support the extra commercial space.

CouldExpire 8:51 am 06 Nov 06

Airport feeling sums it up beautifully, but is the new complex all worth it? Parking lately here in Civic is painful!

Thumper 8:18 am 06 Nov 06

That does look rather hideous.

I think I shall take a stroll inthere at lunch time to get my own impressions, not that I really think I need to….

kyme 10:30 pm 05 Nov 06

anyone remember the time wen garema place had lovely wooden seating, garden beds, a bigred double decker bus cafe, a big w with mosaic tiled walls and a funkier chess pitt… change is not all bad but one cant help but get the feel that the decision makers in this town dont have a bloody clue. That clock marked a tragic change point ..too big for the small area it faces coldly staring at people…”time is up!! stop enjoying, back to work pawns” Thank jeepers for gus who at least put up the fight for alfresco dining. There is hope. A town is, after all, its people.

Woody Mann-Caruso 10:13 pm 05 Nov 06

You can stage a protest, I can report it, passers by can see it and join in if they agree (or disagree)

You still can. The people who will be irresistably drawn to the megaplex like mouthbreathing moths to a flame are the same people who probably wouldn’t give a damn what you have to say anyway, so what’s the loss?

seepi 5:58 pm 05 Nov 06

Garema Place will get the bus crowd, and office workers at lunchtime.

Special G 4:49 pm 05 Nov 06

Maybe they could install travelloaders like in airports to move along quicker.

As for the parents room. No suitable chairs to feed a baby and the change tables were so high my wife couldn’t even put our little girl on the thing, let alone change her. Most people changing babies will be mothers and most females aren’t over 6ft tall.

We made a point of it to the Concierge although not sure if anything will be done.

el 4:24 pm 05 Nov 06

Meh…I only find myself in Civic to see the occasional band, go out for tea or visit Landspeed. I didn’t even know what the new building was until I read about it on here.

johnboy 3:32 pm 05 Nov 06

I got the airport feeling as well. Mostly I suspect due the sheer length of the thing as well as the boarded up unfinished nature.

The centre is going to have a huge advantage just through the parking. Chances are you’ll pass a shop selling what you’re looking for long before you get near to an exit to garema place.

pierce 3:27 pm 05 Nov 06

I took a stroll through the new shopping maul on the weekend after the Walk against Warming and it struck me mainly as feeling like the inside of an airport – somewhere you pass through on the way to somewhere better.

If Canberra’s breeders choose to spend their day happily wandering about there (the ones that escaped the gravitational pull of Brand Depot) then all the better, keep them out of the infinitely more pleasant Garema Place and the shops with a smidge of character.

As for Greater Union Civic – it’s always been a hideous nightmare, bring on the Dendy Gold Class I say (or whatever they are going to call it)

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