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Adelaide: urban renewal « Previous | |Next »
June 5, 2013

The city of Adelaide is changing post the Global Financial Crisis. It's not just the laneway revitalization projects in the CBD -i--t's also the high rise development.

The billboards go up. Regeneration is occurring. The billboard or signage says don't worry, this development will respect local charm, traditions, the unique "vibe" of the area and revitalize the precinct to make it more vibrant and connected. The development's regeneration builds on the great "brand" of tradition, history and character of a particular area of the city.

AdelaideMayfield.jpg Gary Sauer-Thompson, New Mayfield, 2013

The vehicle for the top-down branding is façadeism: taking a series of old buildings, keeping the frontage and building massive units in the back of it. This way, huge shops can be introduced by stealth. This façade of sensitivity (to community, locality, and history) is a fig-leaf to conceal an development agenda that is purely commercial. This figleaf of façadeism is what allows developers to deny that they are taking a top-down approach.

The conflict around local identity and development is traditionally represented as one between ‘resistant residents vs innovative developers’ especially when the development involves constructing 10--14 storey buildings in hitherto defiantly low-rise areas of the city. That resistance to high rise development int he CBD by conserving local ‘character’ at all costs risks the museumification of urban living in the name of heritage that overlooks the area’s long and complex history.

This traditional kind of framing ignores that there are all sorts of local initiatives that seek to highlight the positives in a particular area local attempts by local people to create or cement a concept of community – both within the locality and in the eyes of others. An artist run gallery here, a small bar there ; or a gym or design studios or history walking tour.

This suggests the existence of heterogeneity, the different of voices that characterise a community, that is denied by the imposition of a singular vision by both of the traditional sides of the debate. They ignore the fine grain of Adelaide city’s revitalisation. The fine grain is premised on diversity in that the more diverse the uses, the greater the attraction. As the Six Degrees Adelaide Fine Grain report states:

Much of the city square mile is still dominated by low to medium density residential, which contributes to the character of Adelaide. These areas... [need] the introduction of some local neighbourhood mixed uses – cafes, small scale retail, art galleries, community facilities and so on – because essentially they are more like an inner suburb.

There is a need to re-shape the way Adelaideans think of the City Centre into distinct precincts, with a City Core at the centre of Adelaide and to develop the precincts to create a series of unique places and destinations.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:21 PM | | Comments (5)


Adelaide’s main problem is getting a critical mass of population into the city.

There is also bad development --eg., the apartment development on the old Balfour’s site, is an example of a place that did not “activate” the ground floor street levels.

The way building hits the street prevents a lot of interaction and the car park is not fully buried. The developer wanted to save money and not dig a fully undercover car park.

:"revitalize the precinct to make it more vibrant and connected."

The problem in Adelaide on the weekend, or even during the week is one of city life – this relates to a lack of diversity of functions so that the city becomes a place that ebbs and flows around peak hours and lunch time.

If, as many of the recent reports suggest, the issue for Adelaide city centre is a lack of people, then the highest order aim should probably be to attract people to it.

Investment in buildings, infrastructure, design and landscaping all contribute but each one alone will not necessary reinvigorate the city.

Once again, GST writes truth. Above is the antithesis of Mal King's brainfart against Sustainable Population Australia in last week's New Matilda.