Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Queen Street Mall

I think it kind of makes sense to start in the middle of the city.

A few years ago, one of my tutors at university once said to me - 'architects don't talk about the new addition to the queen street mall' - he was referring to the giant steel, timber and glass shade structure at the centre of Queen and Albert, which was part of a much larger redevelopment of the mall that took place right at the end of the nineties. Being young and impressionable at the time, I just laughed and pretended to understand and agree. But looking back on it now - I completely disagree.

The style of the new structure could be described as typical noughties Queenslander - light, airy, plenty of timber battening, with steel and glass extrusions that defy gravity and appear as though the structure could pick up and walk down the street like a giant ant.

In the case of the Queen Street Mall, interventions like this contribute to the dynamic history of the place, and I like the way that each generation has contributed something, be it the awful neon lights of Hungry Jacks, or the most recent development, still under construction, which I think is starting to look like a designer handbag.

Image Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

It is rare that the buildings in the background are ever the focus of attention - yet when I look at them I can't help but wonder what kinds of stories they would have to tell, if they could adopt human personalities for a day. These buildings are the survivors, witness to the relentless growth of a vibrant city which sadly demolished so much of its heritage on the way up.

I think that the most successful additions to the city are those which are 'of their time'. Buildings, like photographs, capture a moment in history. Years on, they act like a window to the past and enable future generations to gain an understanding of what life was like in the old days.

I think the aforementioned steel and glass shade structure that architects are not supposed to talk about is most definitely 'of its time', and in 100 years time, when our great grandchildren are flying around in these, they will look down to the corner of Queen and Albert and remember how, at the turn of the century there was a prosperous generation who, in a fleeting lightbulb moment, built this whopping great big shade structure - realising that it was much nicer to sit outside in the shade than it was to sit in the air conditioning of Hungry Jacks.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Great Place ! Thanks for sharing the information !! The place is looking amazing. I never visited it but wish that I will go there soon. Certainly, also go "The queen street mall" as well...
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