Thinking big

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Prince George
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Thinking big

#1 Post by Prince George » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:47 am

Here's a couple of interesting recent posts on the Where blog:

First was Against transportation, not transit nor private cars, mind you, but transportation generally. Starting with an interesting quote from Ivan Illich, it casts mobility as a kind of addiction. The debate about transport tends to an argument over which mode is the best for getting you from Stonyfell to Glenelg, rather than focussing on the question of why we're making those trips in the first place. Mobility is a good thing, an important acheivement for our era, but building a society that practically mandates using it means that we have to give over ever increasing amounts of our city's space, budget, and design to the demands of supporting it.

In Think big, freak out, we're asked to think about the level of ambition that we've got for our cities. They don't mean big-as-in-size, but big-as-in-ideas:
The idea of a noble, logical plan becoming a living thing is about as far from the logic of the contemporary commercial megaproject as you can get. Giant developments that have become commonplace in cities like New York, London, and Chicago over the past two decades are designed to eliminate risk, to minimize mess. They are, in a word, sterile. Burnham was talking about creating plans that are dynamic, and that improve their surroundings, not wall themselves off from them.
... The images in this post, for example, are from a collection of entries to a public call for the reinvention of Coney Island. This is the crazy shit that people come up with; it follows that what they want to start seeing more of, in addition to genuine, solid plans for making cities work better, is some freaky, crazy shit.
A downturn is a great time for planning - it's hard to plan and day-dream when there's money on the table - so what do we think? Who's got some big ideas to share? (And, please, a little bigger than an inner-city stadium :) )

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Re: Thinking big

#2 Post by Queen Anne » Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:18 am

A while ago, I would have said my big idea would be for some "megaproject" along the lines that your quoted piece refers to, George.

But the more I read, the more I see of America (big projects don't aways make for an exciting city), and the more I think about it, the more I can understand why some urban thinkers (or whatever you call them!) are unconvinced by such projects.

I can see why there is a lot of feeling out there that Adelaide needs a big project - namely a very tall building. A part of me still agrees with this to the extent that we could do with something to send an easily understood signal that we are not a stagnant city. Such a project is a source of pride, especially to a city that has suffered reputation problems. After all, Adelaide already does have highrise, but it's half-hearted highrise that gives us a half-hearted, ineffectual image - why not do it properly and reap the benefits?

But on the other hand - and I am increasingly leaning this way maybe - would it be more effective to be at the forefront of the newer thinking, which seems to be gaining credence in some quarters (as illustrated by your quoted text): forget about relying on the large projects - we could gain more by fixing our gaze on more down to earth concerns..the kind of things that make a city a truly liveable, thrilling place. The kind of things that are not quick-fix big project ideas but those that add to a city's lifestyle in a more complex and complete way..

So, for me, right now, I think that means my big idea for Adelaide would be the pre-eminence of the street in our construction of the city. The street is the place most of us experience the city and Adelaide's streets are not quite "viby" enough. We need to actively plan for this to change. We have environmental standards on buildings and I think we need "social standards" - any developer should be compelled to add to/retain the street level experience of the city, no matter what they are building. Also, pedestrians and cyclists should be given precedence in our planning - imo, the city needs to be, consciously, a destination more than a through-way. There must be loads we could do to improve the experience of Adelaide at street level.

I'm not sure if I totally understood your question George, and my idea is certainly not freaky or "out there" like the Coney Island stuff. But to me, resisting the urge to rely on giant projects, in favour of more modest and potentially more effective action is "thinking big" and certainly is worth contemplating. I'm still pondering it, but there is something appealing to the idea that Adelaide could have the self confidence to strike out in a different direction, leaving unnecessary "big statement" projects to other cities...we don't seem to ever have the money for such things anyway, so maybe we could turn that lack into a positive through an attitude shift?

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Re: Thinking big

#3 Post by ozisnowman » Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:13 am

How about a water pipeline from the ord river, providing a stable water supply for Adelaide and allow
for further irrigation resources for vines, orchards etc in the barossa, riverland etc as well as provide
environmental flows for the lower lakes. Also this would remove the need for shitty desalination plants
that damage our gulfs... and would be able to provide water for the Olympic Dam expansion and
possible future Nuclear Power Industry...

Increase Olympic Dam, build a processing plant and a waste storage facility, That way we get increased
revenue from the processed rods and control what happens to the rods, ensures its not used for
other purposes. We would get so much royalties from this and also from selling clean green energy
to other states due to harsher carbon emission taxes and this State's coffers would not be at the
mercy of the Federal Government and GST payments.

From these two mega projects you could then upgrade our roads, transport, airport, city to make it
really grand.

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Re: Thinking big

#4 Post by Aidan » Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:07 pm

ozisnowman wrote:How about a water pipeline from the ord river, providing a stable water supply for Adelaide and allow for further irrigation resources for vines, orchards etc in the barossa, riverland etc as well as provide
environmental flows for the lower lakes.
Sorry, that's a non starter. Firstly the energy needed to pump the water along the pipeline would be enormous. Secondly, that would prevent the water from being used in that area. And remember, the Ord river also requires environmental flows.
Also this would remove the need for shitty desalination plants that damage our gulfs...
Desalination plants need not damage our gulfs. The Port Stanvac one is unlikely to, as the brine produced will quickly disperse to safe concentrations, and currents will easily enable it to leave the gulf. The Upper Spencer Gulf one could be more of a problem as cuttlefish are more sensitive to salt - but the problem can be completely solved by drying out the salt completely and selling it.
and would be able to provide water for the Olympic Dam expansion and possible future Nuclear Power Industry...
Why would we want a future nutclear power industry. Solar energy is so abundant that I don't see how nuclear could make money.
Increase Olympic Dam, build a processing plant and a waste storage facility, That way we get increased
revenue from the processed rods and control what happens to the rods, ensures its not used for
other purposes. We would get so much royalties from this and also from selling clean green energy
to other states due to harsher carbon emission taxes and this State's coffers would not be at the
mercy of the Federal Government and GST payments.
It would be unlikely to be that lucrative. And because it wouldn't be that lucrative, it would be extremely hard to get public support.
From these two mega projects you could then upgrade our roads, transport, airport, city to make it
really grand.
We don't need megaprojects with vastly overestimated benefits in order to upgrade our roads, transport, airport and city.
Just build it wrote:Bye Union Hall. I'll see you in another life, when we are both cats.

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Re: Thinking big

#5 Post by pushbutton » Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:29 pm

To me, thinking big mean thinking big, not merely having better roads, trasport etc.

If I think of cities that "think big" I think of cities like Dubai. Dubai isn't the only city that thinks big but it's the best example that comes to mind.

Why? Because they had the boldness and the guts to dare to completely revolutionise the entire city in an amazing and unprecedented way that makes a massive statement to the whole world amount how "big" they think.

The result will almost certainly be long term prosperity for Dubai long after their oil reserves have run out.

They didn't do this in a hapahzrd way or a "let's try something crazy and see if it works" way, but in a carefully planned and very well executed way that will pay dividends for many years to come.

Of course Adelaide doesn't have anything like the sort of cash needed for that kind of big thinking, but we could still do something big and daring, but well planned that would make a similar statement to the world, or at least to the rest of Australia.

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Re: Thinking big

#6 Post by Shuz » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:43 pm

Well, a picture tells a thousand words. And I think we should capitalise on a project that will transform Adelaide's image.
The riverbank precinct is just exactly that, Adelaide's most commonly seen perspective. It's on the forefront of our postcards, media, even when visitors coming in by plane, everyone sees it. And frankly, its not a pretty sight to be seen.

Just a brief summarisation of what should happen;
  • Rejuvenate the Festival Theatre, either through extensive refurbishment or construction of a new facility.
    Finish construction of Parliament House dome.
    Close vehicle access from North Terrace into Festival Drive, and create a new pedestrian plaza in place.
    Refurbish Old Government House into a boutique resturant, with courtyard used for outdoor dining which opens up into the pedestrain plaza.
    Relocate SkyCity Casino elsewhere, and restore the Adelaide Railway Station to its former glory.
    Adelaide Railway station should have provisions of new platforms for interstate trains, and access from the eastern entry via new pedestrian plaza.
    Festival Drive should be a busway, with an interchange point integrated with the northern side of the Adelaide Railway Station.
    Earthworks on riverfront area to create resturants and shops into the slope of the hill to minimuse visual impact and maximise waterfront public space.
    Demolish the ASER precinct, Exhibition Centre, offices and the Hyatt, or at least relocate their premises west of Morphett Street bridge.
    Transform ASER precinct into a Federation-Square open space with integrated transport links to bus interchange and railway station.
    Expand Convention Centre over railway tracks west of Morphett Street bridge, with new Hyatt hotel within the complex.
    Construct a large-capacity multipurpose stadium built on old railyards site.
    Create a waterfront resturant and apartments precinct adjacent Torrens Lake and railway tracks, with extensive pedestrian links to stadium.

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Re: Thinking big

#7 Post by peas_and_corn » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:44 pm

Actually, Dubai doesn't have a huge amount of oil- though it does have gas.

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Re: Thinking big

#8 Post by Omicron » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:47 am

Dubai is a dreadfully ugly, soulless mess. It is 1970s America, 2009-style.
Prince George wrote:Here's a couple of interesting recent posts on the Where blog:

First was Against transportation, not transit nor private cars, mind you, but transportation generally.
To be perfectly honest, the decentralised community-focused utopian urban model so loved by the more extremist of the New Urbanists would cause me to jump off the nearest community-oriented transport-oriented decentralised medium-density eco-block. :wink:

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Re: Thinking big

#9 Post by Aidan » Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:25 am

Shuz wrote:Well, a picture tells a thousand words. And I think we should capitalise on a project that will transform Adelaide's image.
The riverbank precinct is just exactly that, Adelaide's most commonly seen perspective. It's on the forefront of our postcards, media, even when visitors coming in by plane, everyone sees it. And frankly, its not a pretty sight to be seen.
It looks quite good to me.
Just a brief summarisation of what should happen;
Rejuvenate the Festival Theatre, either through extensive refurbishment or construction of a new facility.
How would this be an improvement on the existing Festival Theatre?
Finish construction of Parliament House dome.
That's something I think should be done last, when all the other stuff is complete.
Festival Drive should be a busway, with an interchange point integrated with the northern side of the Adelaide Railway Station.
No, it would be silly to build a busway to divert the buses away from where the passengers want to go! North Terrace is a much better route for buses, despite the traffic.

Also, Festival Drive currently serves three main functions: enabling cars and taxis to take people to and from the Festival Centre, giving vehicles access to the car parks near the Festival Centre, and as a service road to the Festival Centre, railway station, Hyatt and Convention Centre. How could you fulfil those functions without Festival Drive?
Close vehicle access from North Terrace into Festival Drive, and create a new pedestrian plaza in place.
Do you remember what the area used to be like before Festival Drive was daylighted? The hot barren landscape of a pedestrian plaza that pedestrians usually avoided? Having more plaza to walk over won't necessarily make things better for pedestrians!
Refurbish Old Government House into a boutique resturant, with courtyard used for outdoor dining which opens up into the pedestrain plaza.
Do you mean Old Parliament House? That's been turned into offices to service the parliamentary business. If those are no longer required, I'd rather they restore its former use as the Constitutional Museum. It's not like we're short of boutique restaurants.
Relocate SkyCity Casino elsewhere, and restore the Adelaide Railway Station to its former glory.
Why move the casino? Is there anything else that has to go directly above the station concourse?
Adelaide Railway station should have provisions of new platforms for interstate trains
,
Are you aware of how long interstate trains are?
and access from the eastern entry via new pedestrian plaza.
While I'm in favour of reopening the eastern entry, the number of passengers using it would be small, as apart from a very short stretch of King William Road, it doesn't enable anywhere to be accessed more quickly.

What would be more useful is a western entry!
Earthworks on riverfront area to create resturants and shops into the slope of the hill to minimuse visual impact and maximise waterfront public space.
Sounds good, but we have to be careful - it's one of those things that could so easily be counterproductive.
Demolish the ASER precinct, Exhibition Centre, offices and the Hyatt, or at least relocate their premises west of Morphett Street bridge.
Transform ASER precinct into a Federation-Square open space with integrated transport links to bus interchange and railway station.
You'd spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying up and demolishing buildings, then plonk a bus interchange in their place?
Expand Convention Centre over railway tracks west of Morphett Street bridge, with new Hyatt hotel within the complex.
Would the Convention Centre go over or under Morphett Street Bridge? Or would it be split in two?
And how much do you imagine it would cost to persuade Hyatt to move to a less central location?
Construct a large-capacity multipurpose stadium built on old railyards site.
Create a waterfront resturant and apartments precinct adjacent Torrens Lake and railway tracks, with extensive pedestrian links to stadium.
As this has a thread of its own, I won't comment on it here!
Just build it wrote:Bye Union Hall. I'll see you in another life, when we are both cats.

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Re: Thinking big

#10 Post by Shuz » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:13 pm

Well, Aidan - I don't see you offering any ideas on "thinking big"?
Bloody lot of criticsm you give there, I'd only justify that if you came up with an alternative "big thought" of your own.

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Re: Thinking big

#11 Post by Aidan » Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:56 pm

pushbuttn wrote:To me, thinking big mean thinking big, not merely having better roads, trasport etc.
Maybe, but thinking big when you don't have a great transport system could result in a lot of trouble!
If I think of cities that "think big" I think of cities like Dubai. Dubai isn't the only city that thinks big but it's the best example that comes to mind.

Why? Because they had the boldness and the guts to dare to completely revolutionise the entire city in an amazing and unprecedented way that makes a massive statement to the whole world amount how "big" they think.
It is true that Dubai thought big and then grew big - but the way they did so can not be replicated here.

Dubai initially set itself up as the Duty Free capital of the Middle East. Unfortunately we're too remote globally to set ourselves up as the Duty Free capital of anywhere.

Then Dubai attracted a lot of rich people and businesses. As most of their revenue comes from leasing land, they could afford to set themselves up as a tax haven. We can't.

Then they got the major attractions. But we had an indoor skislope before they did!
We could certainly do with more attractions, but without the large number of rich people and the cheap labour, I don't think we'll emulate them.

But there is a lot we can do. Despite the recent fall in commodity prices we still have a great future in mining - and as Perth proves, when the mining revenue comes, the city will quickly develop. The best we can do is ensure the infrastructure is there, so that the development can be a genuine improvement instead of causing more problems.

And remember, Dubai didn't get everything right - it has traffic congestion problems!

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Re: Thinking big

#12 Post by Aidan » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:43 pm

Shuz wrote:Well, Aidan - I don't see you offering any ideas on "thinking big"?
Bloody lot of criticsm you give there, I'd only justify that if you came up with an alternative "big thought" of your own.
Well the link in my .sig contains a lot of big ideas, many of which I evaluated in my Investigation Project last year. Just building the railway under the City (from North Terrace to Keswick) would do more for Adelaide than any other single project I've heard of - and as my site makes clear, there's plenty more that could be done after that - and indeed during and before it!

It can be as big as we want it to be. It could dwarf all these other big visions if we do everything I mention there. Although, as I discovered, benefits of the Hackham to Seaford section would be very low, and the monorail may never be practical anywhere (it certainly wouldn't beyond Flinders). But we could do most things and it would still be enormous.

The transport infrastructure could be integrated with building developments. For example, next to the N end of the station under Gawler Place is what used to be the David Jones building and car park. We could demolish it, build a bus interchange in the basement (like in the Brisbane Myer Centre), put even more shopping space in the first few levels, then put some twenty storey office buildings on top of that!

And if you want a big idea that's more inspirational than practical, how about diverting the Standard Gauge line away from the Hills, converting the hills line back to broad gauge, and letting SteamRanger run commuter trains from Mount Barker to the vacated Adelaide Station?
Just build it wrote:Bye Union Hall. I'll see you in another life, when we are both cats.

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Re: Thinking big

#13 Post by Wayno » Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:25 pm

Prince George wrote:A downturn is a great time for planning - it's hard to plan and day-dream when there's money on the table - so what do we think? Who's got some big ideas to share? (And, please, a little bigger than an inner-city stadium :) )
PG, i like your thinking - i'm pushing the same with my VP at work - plan in detail whilst times are tough so we can quickly leap forward once they get better. Alas, he's chosen to act like "Chicken Little" instead :roll:

I'm also a strong believer in leveraging assets, like Mark 'Jacko' Jackson used to say "If you've got it, flaunt it. And if you don't got it, flaunt it anyway!". Remember him, Mr EverReady, and had a song I'm an individual - oi...


When a Marketing Agency *thinks big* on behalf of a client (the client being Adelaide/SA in this case), one of the first things they investigate are the oppositions weaknesses - and set up a competitive promotional campaign. SA used to have a good one liner - we were the least expensive place to live and do business in Australia. But this is now marginal at best and we need a new competitive differentiator. This is definitely worth the effort, but direct competition is a game of eroding returns. Highlight a weakness interstate/overseas, exploit it to our advantage, and they'll work to close the gap.

Marketing Agencies also heavily focus on characteristic differentiators. Get this right and you win for the long-term, because unlike competitive advantage, characteristic differentiation can't easily be eroded, and other cities always ends up looking stupid if they attempt to clone.

So here's my point. Adelaide, just like every place on this planet, has it's own distinct character. The trick being how best to promote it? You need to think like an Advertising Agency - ever watch the Gruen Transfer?

I personally think our characteristic advantage comes from our tremendous clean energy resources (solar, wind, sea), tonnes of mining resources (coal, uranium, gold), coupled with a great lifestyle by the beach, in the hills, in the city. However, our BIGGEST asset is our ability to attract & host world-class festivals and events each year - right in the heart of a very attractive city with grand parklands. To this end, the "Brilliant Blend" campaign started very well by promoting these things, but started to turn sour for reasons i can't quite put my finger on - somehow they strayed and lost the message.

*Thinking Big* must be done from a long-term cultural perspective. Creating a stadium, taller buildings, a swimming centre, etc is background noise that add little to our image. It's all necessary stuff, but no sooner is it finished that it's forgotten (e.g. when was the last S-A post about the Rundle Convergence? and remember how excited we were - lol). The only time a construction project makes a difference is when it directly adds to the culture. Two great examples are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and Fed Square in Melbourne - and being frank, both would be out of place in todays Adelaide, and any attempt to do similar would be quickly dismissed as an exercise in imitation - and that's the last thing you want to occur).

Instead, we must have our own distinct flagship mega-project that is aligned to our culture (not a tall glass building, not a sports stadium - something distinctly Adelaide - and it might be only 3 storeys tall, and not even located in the city!). You'll know it's a flagship mega-project if it triggers a myriad of functions including: discussion, communication, use of high technology, social engagement, knowledge exchange, and cultural growth.

Once we have completed the flagship mega-project we then push for a flagship mega-event with tremendous media exposure (e.g. the commonwealth games). The two will work beautifully in tandem to reinforce our desired image - heck, we might even lose the 'city of churches' brand.

And never forget that whilst we are *Thinking Big*, from little things big things grow, as long as you always stay true to your cultural strengths...
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

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Re: Thinking big

#14 Post by raulduke » Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:25 pm

we need a Burj-Adelaide.

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Re: Thinking big

#15 Post by Shuz » Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:29 pm

raulduke wrote:we need a Burj-Adelaide.
We already do! It's called the Mount Lofty Summit, standing in at a towering 714m over the city of Adelaide. :P

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