Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Visiting Sydney, as I am lucky enough to do from time to time, I stay at the Hilton - which is apparently "chic and central" - but more importantly is over the street from the Pitt Street Mall - which is a joy to wander through with its cafés, toy shops, fashion windows and almost complete absence of chain stores. Rather like Glasgow Caledonian University's Saltire Centre it functions differently on different levels - the bustle and rush of the train-commuter related base up to the chilled pauses offered towards the roof - with a macchiato and decadent nibble of some sort. The deep atrium centre gives a sense of unity to the place, but preserves somehow the unique social and aural character of each floor.

I've been involved in designing prisons from time to time and the old "open centre" design has rather given way to complete floors - with of course a significant additional cost in security as each floor is then a unique sealed entity - it just seems wrong to me. Designing spaces that have on the one hand a sense of what I like to call us-ness, but on the other hand offer some character and intimacy - without opening a door to the bullying and boorishness that often accompany intimacy is a huge design task - and a task for schools too.

But as we try to get that right, sometimes it's just a joy to sit back and bask in the spactacle of the Pitt Street Mall. Now, perhaps I should try the lemon meringue pie next...

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