Thursday, September 3, 2015


The announcement was made: Echo not Crown; and the reverberations continue to echo through the media that is filled with the gleam, glitz, and glory of casino style. It is a style that hypes everything into the surreal: the unbelievable now! WOW! The idea seems to be to make ordinary people feel like grand dukes, princes, if not kings and queens. The ambition is apparently to highlight the embrace of self-importance that carries the feeling of the adequacy of being able to spend in a fit manner, in a style engendered by the surrounds, lush, luxurious and lascivious. Casino style is like shopping centre style, only grander, more exotic. Just look at Crown in Melbourne: make-believe made real. But this will not be Brisbane: it will be better!

Not everyone is happy. The professor from the University of Queensland was shown on the news making a statement about, well, was it ‘knowledge’? It seemed a vague criticism, but he is a professor, so these are assumed to be words of wisdom greater than the ordinary mind can comprehend.

Why does the critique have to be academically vague? Cannot ordinary words make any headway in the understanding of the issues and the problems in this proposal? It appears that the new scheme plans to demolish the Executive Building, the John Morton Administration Building and the Neville Bonner building – maybe more.* These are all award winning structures. Are they to be replaced with an award winning quality?

Haussmann comes to mind. He was bold enough to begin demolishing old Paris, but look what he has achieved! Will Brisbane be so transformed? It seems unlikely. The casino is crammed tight against the new government tower that is squashed between freeway ramps in a remote corner of the CBD. Why develop such a dead-end part of the city with such density? This was the area of the city that previous plans had identified as the Government Precinct, and it was successful in fulfilling this role. Sitting in a dead-end corner of Brisbane seemed right for the State Government institutions that could gather near the heritage Parliament House. At least the buildings held their identity in this formal place.

Now the casino plans to move in and demolish some important buildings just for its glory that will be shared with the new government administration tower, and Parliament House and its annex. This mishmash seems to be what the professor was trying to highlight as a problem in planning matters. Perhaps government is all about gambling, fun and games? Maybe the casino can make a grandiose introduction for the people of Queensland to its parliament? This is, after all, the city that gave one of its great historic buildings, the Treasury, to the casino for its gambling enterprise. Why worry about this confusion?

The casino footbridge leads to the casino from somewhere on Southbank

In the plan of things, the casino is apparently moving out of this historic wonder into new sparkling gleam. Finally it will be freed of the place it never really wanted to go into. This building, the old Treasury, will become a department store. Oh, no! Why? Why more and more refurbishment to this place? How much can it take? What quality will be left? Is this really the era of department stores? Will the old Treasury finally be left as a tired, worn-out ruin? What is to happen to the old library building? Will this beautiful award winner go too?

Brisbane's Treasury Building

Why does Brisbane care so little for its award winning buildings? Most places keep their best buildings to become a permanent part of their heritage. Now these award-winning structures will, it seems, all be a part of the city’s lost history, the silent past. Why should a casino go into this location? Why have another pedestrian bridge going nowhere like the others? What is wrong with Brisbane that it cares so little for its urban qualities and feels free, happy to smash anything just to delight in the hype of the hope of casinos? Are gambling profits the only future this place has? Can a city not have a richness based on its history, geography, culture and climate rather than on casino style alone? What place needs the plush push of big brands? Who wants to live in shopping centre space/place?

The government administration building marks the site of the casino

What is Brisbane? What might it become? Why does it have to keep seeking glass towers that reek of the blare and glare of the International style? What meaning is there in this city form that seems to only seek to promote the vision of ME in ‘world class’ casino style – LOOK AT ME! This is ‘selfie’ architecture, formed and detailed to promote the self, myself, alone. This does not make for anything but a temporary city because style needs revamping to keep its energy alive and alert, constantly eye-catching. We are building fashions that can only fade and demand new difference in no time at all – newer and slicker experiences for the gambler. Like tourism, stylish fashion cares little for place or permanence: see -

The government administration tower is on the right completing the array of casino towers

One wonders: what hope is there? 

Where's Brisbane?
Who cares?

* See ON DEMOLISHING BUILDINGS quote in the right-hand sidebar.

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