This week I attended a forum addressing the city’s economic development with consideration for culture and identity. Up for discussion was the proposition that the city needed an ‘icon’ – a building that makes a statement about and symbolises the city’s importance. All city’s should encourage architectural excellence. Every building an administration approves or saves or rejects makes a statement about the city and its approach to the built environment. Therefore the development of the built environment and symbolic structures is a matter for collaboration across community, private sector and government. However, there was a sense from the participants – comprised of businesspeople and government officers engaged in economic development – that the river is the city’s symbol and the city affirmed its ‘River City’ identity. The Lord Mayor asked if the city needed the world’s tallest observation deck and this idea received a resounding silence from the floor with recognition that Mt Coot-tha was our city’s observation deck. However, perhaps the Lord Mayor has hit on something special about Brisbane, and that is that the city offers some remarkable vistas and a desire to engage our natural assets. I regularly walk across Victoria Bridge, and the buildings in the cultural precinct offer views to the mountains. It occurred to me that if that view was ever built out, there would be protests from citizens. There are often sightlines to the river, the bay, mangroves, urban forest and the mountains as we live, work and play in this city. This city has not yet been so built up and out that the connection with the landscape has been lost. This makes meaning of the sub-tropical dimensions of this place and presents opportunities for a unique kind of urbanism and built environment. This is a city of views, a city of ecology and a city of landscape. You can’t build that – you have to protect it and celebrate it.
BRISBANE | City of Views
Posted on 05/11/2011