A tale of two cities

A tale of two cities

If I say Bilbao and then Hobart, what comes to your mind?

For many, the answers respectively will be The Guggenheim and MONA. Cultural infrastructure writ large in both cases.

Understanding relationships between cities and their cultural infrastructure is important to our work. We often use examples we have researched first hand, like Cloud Gate in Chicago and The High Line in New York to illustrate the beneficial effects of civic investment in cultural infrastructure. By way of example, Chicago’s Cloud Gate and Millennium Park contribute around USD1.5B annually to the city’s economy and have catalysed in excess of 10B in urban renewal and development.

Place, Identity, Culture

Place, Identity, Culture

Last week I spoke at two conferences on opposing sides of the country. First, the 11th International Urban Design Conference in Sydney and then International Cities, Towns and Communities in Fremantle. My presentation at both events summarised Cultural Capital’s experience delivering a number of significant projects for Transport for NSW, including Wynscreen, Interloop and the Public Art Masterplan for Australia’s largest transport infrastructure project - Sydney Metro City and Southwest.

Markthal

Markthal

In December I wrote a piece about Adelaide’s long established Central Market, set to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. Now I’ve come to see Rotterdam’s Markthal (Market Hall), just three and a half years old. Notwithstanding the age difference, the similarities between the two are remarkable; walking into Markthal, the layout, scale and produce on offer gave me the momentary feeling that I might have been walking back into Adelaide.

A lesson central to our work

A lesson central to our work

I’m reminded that sometimes life dishes up just the lesson we need – right when we need it – as an unplanned trip finds me in Adelaide Central Market on a hot early-summer afternoon.

From where I’m standing in this thriving retail ecosystem, without turning my head or making an effort, I can see stalls of Asian gourmet take away, organic fruit and veg, a chocolatier, specialist cheese, fish and seafood, and The Corner Deli with a sign that reads:
The Corner Deli: Hamcoffeebaconolivesdipssmokedsalmonvinegarscoffeehamcheesebreadoilseggs

Urban Australia; generating cultural capital or breeding cultural impoverishment?

Urban Australia; generating cultural capital or breeding cultural impoverishment?

We tend to think of rapid urbanisation as something that happens somewhere else, like China. But it’s happening here too, right in front of our eyes.

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in February, former Treasury secretary Ken Henry estimated that Australia will need a brand new city for two million people every five years.

See you at Wynscreen

See you at Wynscreen

What happens when a major developer of transport infrastructure makes a commitment to integrating contemporary art into their projects?

We’ll find out when around 30,000 commuters per day get to experience Wynscreen, Sydney’s newest site for art in public space, dedicated to high quality, curated moving image artworks.

The Argument for Better Development Process

The Argument for Better Development Process

The most recognizable characteristic of Australian urban development is the adversarial nature of its process.

Every day brings highly publicized media stories of infrastructure projects and developments mired in conflict; bogged down in disputes between competing interest groups.

In Sydney alone examples best known for the controversies that surround them include; Wesconnex, the Lightrail Program, Crown Barangaroo, the Balmain Tigers site, the Waterloo Eveleigh project and residential developments across the city. For media consumers these controversies make interesting stories but for the people involved they’re disastrous. 

A cultural high for NYC

A cultural high for NYC

At New York’s High Line a handful of vendors operate from trailers clustered between its southern entrance and the new Whitney Museum of Art next-door. I strike up a conversation with Dana, originally from Albania and now a New Yorker selling photographic prints of street art from all over the city. The prints capture moments in time; the street art which provides the source material often doesn’t last for long, supplanted by the perpetual redevelopment of this city. Dana tells me that her husband takes the pictures, which I initially believe but later come to question when I see other vendors with the same images. 

undesign

undesign

Lately I’ve been thinking about Undesign. I know that’s a strange word and perhaps someone has a better one.

One way or another, I’ve spent most of my working life in design. There are a handful of early years that don’t qualify; a couple in the military and a few working as a rural contractor building fences. But mostly it’s been about design. I built a multi-disciplinary design group that reached the top of its game in Australia, took it into Asia and then partnered it with one of the world’s largest experience design companies.