The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

If only we could be so lucky

Friday 15 February 2008 at 6:02 am

Artist's impression of the proposed Perth foreshore development; Creative Commons licence does not apply to this image.

Aside from the apology in Canberra, Wednesday’s big news (from the State government) was the announcement of the less-tentative plan for developing and cleaning up the waterfront near the convention centre. The Premier used a(nother) business lunch for the announcement, and his office even organised a flashy Web presentation to sell it!

If it goes ahead as proposed, it’ll be awesome. But that assumes it doesn’t get shouted down on grounds of price — the touted $300m sounds ripe for blowouts. For instance, the pictures suggest a cable car from the foreshore to Kings Park (a superb idea!) which I doubt has been included in the figure.

And then there’s the parts that depend on private investment; the pictures all feature a bunch of skyscrapers (including a whopping big centrepiece looking like 2 IFC in Hong Kong) that won’t get built if the market remains how it’s been the last few years.

All in all, though, this announcement is a nice complement to last week’s confirmation that a stadium will get built, and at Subiaco (which certainly isn’t a bad site). But the even more interesting part of that story was the half-billion dollar museum at East Perth, which (if done right) could do far more for the city than any stadium can. For both, though, I’ll reserve judgement until there are actual plans …

no comments »

Equally (un)likely: the stadium and the power station

Monday 28 May 2007 at 8:08 pm

Proposed stadium precinct at Kitchener Park, Subiaco; Creative Commons licence doesn't apply to this image

  • So my last post was wrong; Wednesday’s stadium task force report didn’t officially name a preferred site. But I think this was just a political move, since it’s impossible to miss the subtext of “East Perth is best” in the report. Their concept design is undeniably awesome, and I’d love to hear a State official announce that it’ll go ahead without further delay — not that that’s likely. Also, it’s worth noting that the task force’s work is much more carefully considered than some observers seem to think — for instance, they present an almost undeniable economic case for a single multi-use stadium rather than upgrades that preserve the status quo.
  • There’s only one way that the BP & Rio Tinto proposal for a new power station at Kwinana can go ahead: big bucks from Canberra. (Given that Howard is looking for policies to improve his score on climate change, that’s hardly improbable.) From a local perspective, I don’t see all too much to praise. The proposal is for their new joint venture to convert coal into hydrogen and carbon dioxide, then store the latter under the sea floor. Aside from putting yet more stress (acidification even?) on an obscenely polluted Cockburn Sound, both companies admit this’ll be much more expensive than gas-fired power. Nevermind that natural gas accounts for 30% of WA’s electricity (most of which is in new facilities) and is subject to a domestic reservation policy that makes it an awfully attractive fuel.
  • Briefly, I’m reasonably impressed by the plan to relocate FESA headquarters to Cockburn, since it might stimulate further growth (for instance, some of Parramatta’s current success came from the NSW Police relocating there). But given the State Government’s record with measures like relocating the old DOLA to Midland, I’m not so sure.
  • And finally, I’m amused to hear of John Edwards’ new campaign funding source: pirate treasure!
no comments »

After much arguing, a baby step forward

Saturday 19 May 2007 at 11:51 pm

Tomorrow’s Sunday Times reports that East Perth is the recommendation from John Langoulant’s Major Stadia Taskforce. They’d previously rejected the Burswood proposal, which was my preference since it’d have allowed the creation of an awesome new district, but this is indeed the second-best site. At least there’s hope for integration with the river.

The thing is, this is just a report recommending what, where, and how to build (and it took this long!). It’d be great to see even a vague sense of urgency on this project — a commitment to build, perhaps, or the commissioning of a notable architect. Instead, we have a drawn-out process that does a great job of considering a wide range of views … but doesn’t succeed on any other score.


Stadiums and other city buildings

Thursday 31 August 2006 at 10:25 pm
  • [New office tower at Raine Square; note that Creative Commons licence does not apply to this image] Today the City of Perth announced approval for two new office projects — a huge redevelopment to make Raine Square less boring, and an office block on the ground-level carpark between the Parmelia Hilton and the Busport.
    The Raine Square development, assuming it goes ahead, sounds very funky, but the Mounts Bay Road building isn’t nearly as awesome as the mixed-use projects that were previously approved for the site (man, we don’t have enough mixed-use in Perth). Then again, at least this one has a chance of going ahead and replacing that waste-of-space carpark. Now if only someone would do something about the waste of space carpark next door …
  • Yesterday, my local government announced it was giving up its bid to get a stadium built at Cockburn Central, after being told the Premier wasn’t all that interested in their plans. Oh well, I guess WA football will be set back a few years as vested interests squabble over redeveloping Subiaco Oval. (Of course, East Perth is the better of the two remaining options, if only because it creates river integration opportunities … which almost guarantees that it won’t be accepted.)
  • Also on the sporting front: earlier this week, new plans were announced for Perth Arena, the new indoor stadium for the Hopman Cup. When I first heard about the bold design I thought it seemed cool, but the most recent pictures suggest that everything on the site other than the stadium itself is a bit uninspired.

    [Ugly carpark at Perth Arena; note that Creative Commons licence does not apply to this image]

    Case in point: that carpark, which is way too big, hardly sympathetic to the design, and liable to end up like the Convention Centre carpark (i.e. overrun by commuters and useless to patrons).


So much for Cockburn Stadium …

Saturday 10 June 2006 at 3:14 pm

The headline of my community newspaper yesterday: “Stadium bid sunk”.

The Major Stadia Taskforce announced, in its interim report, that its short list of sites consists of Mueller Park in Subiaco, and land near the old East Perth power station.

Never mind that the former is a perfectly nice park (and as yesterday’s West Australian points out, plenty of people like it that way) while the latter is already earmarked for fairly radical redevelopment.

When the Cockburn stadium bid was first announced, I thought it’d be an ideal way to encourage development at Cockburn Central — pubs, restaurants, and maybe a hotel or two — that would give the area a CBD flavour of its own, like a mini-Parramatta. This kind of development, after all, was decided as the most desirable outcome after the Dialogue with the City process (I should know, I was there!) with a stronger Cockburn helping to drive the growth of a ‘networked’ Perth. But the task force seems not to care about that, giving barely three sentences to the bid and focussing instead on fluffy guidelines about “sports entertainment hubs”. Heck, even the Belmont Park proposal is better than the sites in their short list.

P.S. Something else jumped out at me in yesterday’s newspaper: yet another anti-OBE letter, this time from some professor at that so-called university in Fremantle, arguing that “post-structuralism … is just that, a theory”. Now while it’s not surprising for an average newspaper-letter-writer to not understand the formal meaning of ‘theory’, for an academic I’d say it’s no less than inexcusable.