An Illawarra architect has come up with a creative approach to revitalise the much criticised re-development of Wollongong Mall.
Andrew Conacher believes as an urban hub, the mall should be a reflection of the region and has recommended a series of laser cut steel sculptures be built around the base of the eucalyptus trees.
‘‘The trees in the mall have been problematic so lets make a positive out of a negative,’’ he said. ‘‘Steel is what we are good at. Why not do something that excites people and makes them want to come here? Something creative that lifts people’s spirits.’’
A few weeks ago Wollongong City Council built barriers around the natives to protect them as they grow. Mr Conacher said the guards were drab, did nothing to enhance the look of the mall and said little about the history or nature of the region.
Steel sculptures he said would combine Wollongong’s traditional strength as a Steel City with the City of Innovation message.
‘‘I think they are both good ways to market ourselves, but let’s see some evidence of it in our mall,’’ said Mr Conacher.
He urged council to hold a competition on the design of the steel sculptures with local artists as well as university and Tafe students encouraged to enter. Businesses could then be approached to pay for the discreet naming rights. Each barrier could either have its own design or a similar theme.
‘‘It’s not particularly expensive and each barrier would pay for themselves,’’ Mr Conacher said. ‘‘It’s a win-win for council, the community and for business.’’
He said the current barriers, whilst new, were portable and could easily be used at other locations.
‘‘They are the usual rustic, chunky barriers council builds at parks and beaches to protect trees,’’ he said. ‘‘While they look perfectly good in those settings they are not suited to a modern urban mall.’’
The steel could be sourced from Bluescope, while the laser cutting could also be produced in Wollongong.
‘‘When you stand in the mall now what does it tell you about Wollongong? What does it say about our region? Not much. Well this is one way the mall can reflect our manufacturing tradition with our creativity. It’s an easy approach,’’ he said.