Home' Commercial : Commercial Designs 2012 Contents WA’s Best Commercial Building & Design 2012 53
Debate | Vision WA
Debate | Vision WA
So like it or not, change
is coming, and people
And so they should be. The decisions made in
the next few years will dictate the shape and
style of our towns and cities. The Perth of 2020,
let alone 2050, will be radically different to the
Perth we live in today.
What’s encouraging is that there is strong
consensus amongst the key decision-makers
and opinion leaders about what we do and don’t
want. All 14 people we interviewed came across as
competent, experienced and genuinely passionate
about leaving a legacy for future generations.
It was widely acknowledged that mistakes
have been made. No one wants another shed on
the foreshore or endless urban sprawl centred
on US-style shopping malls. Housing density
without appropriate street-front amenities leaves
communities without a town centre and a soul.
Everyone is cognisant of the need to get
it right – that this is a once-in-a -generation
opportunity to leave a legacy. There is recognition
of key stakeholders and the importance of
innovative design, public space, the arts, more
hotels, social housing and better transport systems.
Planning documents such as Directions 2031
and Beyond are a good start. It acknowledges the
challenges and plans for the future. It signs off on
many qualitative aspects of the future of WA and has
a common goal for decision-makers. But is it enough
to safeguard the quality of future development?
The consensus is no – not yet, anyway. There
are two concerns.
We need to think big
We can’t measure the cost of development in
terms of hospital beds. We need to think of the big
picture, to 2050 and beyond, when the population
of Perth is predicted to reach 3.5 million.
We need to accept great design won’t be popular
with everyone. Iconic design will always divide
opinion; the popular decision will offend few but
impress none – the very essence of mediocrity.
We need to future proof our society and our
economy so we are able to compete as a global
city. No one should be left behind – we need to
leave a legacy that benefits all West Australians.
We don’t want to lose what makes WA a great
place to live, and we want to ensure that even the
lowest income earners can enjoy our world-class
public assets – our waterways, our parks, our
sporting facilities, the arts and cultural events.
But at the same time we want to live and work in
a place that is inspiring.
If it takes $200 million to turn a functional
development into a globally recognisable icon, then
we should spend the money. Why? Because it will
put us on the map. It will show the rest of Australia
and the rest of the world that we are a global city
capable of greatness. Because it instills confidence,
attracts finance and human capital. Our economy
relies on attracting and retaining the world’s best
and brightest, along with their families. They won’t
come and they won’t stay unless we have something
to offer beyond the functional.
Because it makes us a tourism destination for
the future – something that will be vital when the
resources run dry. It will help grow our city and
give us a critical population mass that boosts the
local economy and makes industry and jobs safe.
Because it will make us proud to live in a
thriving economy with great art and design.
Because it makes every day a little bit brighter
when our office, living and public spaces are of
a high standard. Because life is about more than
food and shelter – we need to be inspired. But
mostly, because a thriving society will drive an
economy that will fund the hospital beds and
classrooms for the future.
Someone needs to
explain how this is
going to happen
Everyone we interviewed recognised the
importance of quality design, but was less
certain about how this will happen. There
is little documentation on design standards
and how they will be implemented. It is a broad
concern that is shared by many in the industry.
There is acknowledgement that communication
with the public could also be improved.
However it’s likely not the entire truth.
There are two challenges for government.
First, while West Australians are renowned for
innovation in business, we are conservative on
social change. Radical design is almost always
strongly opposed from the outset: look at the
Opera House and Federation Square. Perth will
be no different.
Second, the West Australian media cannot
always be trusted to provide a fair analysis
or interpretation of any vision presented by
government, and as a result, government will
often elect to take a small-target strategy and
keep under the radar.
That is a great shame, because in this
time of great change we need leadership and
vision, particularly when it comes to something
that will impact on our future quality of life,
our cost of living, the health and happiness of
our communities, our ability to compete for
human capital, our economy and the lives of
Whether or not Barnett and other decision-
makers are ready to take the challenge – and do
it right – remains to be seen. One thing that can
be said about Barnett is that he pays little heed
to public opinion – if he thinks it is the right
thing to do, he will do it. Whether or not he is
prepared to step up Kennett-style, convince WA
that now is the time to invest in the future, and
put measures in place that leave a legacy we can
be proud of, only time will tell.
“We need to think of the big picture, to
2050 and beyond, when the population
of Perth is predicted to reach 3.5m”
“Radical design is almost always strongly
opposed from the outset: look at the Opera House
and Federation Square. Perth will be no different”
Interested in finding out more? | For more information, to read more detailed transcripts and to review relevant documents, go to scoop.com.au and click
on the Commercial Building & Design portal. We intend to continue to follow the development of WA closely and invite anyone with an active interest in the
future of WA to subscribe to our free monthly newsletter.
Links Archive WAs Best Commercial Designs 2011 Commercial Building and Design 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page