Design matters. It's a simple statement, yet so often overlooked in public infrastructure. Often governments see infrastructure as utilitarian: "designed to be useful or practical rather than beautiful". The recent demolition and replacement of Hobart's Parliament offices at 10 Murray St is a great example of why design matters. From a brutalist building, that was a blight on the skyline and dominated over the heritage parliament building below, to a stunning modern building that is beautiful to look at. It's not only beautiful to look at but the addition of the public space below, known as Parliament Square, has added to the amenity and practicality of the area. Good design increases happiness by making our surroundings appealing and pleasant to be in while enhancing practicality and usefulness.
The most recent UTAS accommodation block on Melville Street, is a good example of bad design. While it may be functional as an accommodation setting, it is a simple concrete box, and frankly, it isn't good enough. It detracts from the city space, and is ugly to look at. Major developments in Hobart need to have high architectural value. Developments need to be great buildings that suit our great city. We own our city, and we can control what type of buildings are built here through planning and review processes. They must add to, not detract from, the cityscape. And large scale, wealthy property developers, including the University, need to be held to the highest standards - they can afford it.
But good design doesn't just have to be applied to large scale developments . Good design has its place all through our city. From rubbish bins to bus stop shelters, footpaths to lighting, design is a constant in our lives and Hobart City Council must strive for the best design. A recent example of small-scale good design is the replacement of the unsightly concrete toilet block at Long Beach Reserve, Sandy Bay. The Long Beach area is an important location for many residents of greater Hobart, combining a large children's playground, sporting fields and beach front promenade. It is appropriate that this recreation area includes attractive and practical public facilities. By engaging local architecture firm, Preston Lane, to design a modern and beautiful amenity block, we once again see that good design improves both look and function. The new toilet block almost disappears into the hillside, no longer an eyesore. It has gained outdoor showers and modernised public bathroom facilities. It also includes a roof-top viewing platform with seating, again enhancing the utility and user experience.
I believe in good design. I believe we should hold developers to account and I believe Hobart City Council should set the benchmark for design to enhance our lives and the liveability of our great city.