If you live in the Top End then you are well aware of our beautiful seasons, The Wet and the Dry.
The harshest weather in Australia is characterized by long sunny days or torrential showers that can be followed by the sweltering heat. We deal with it because some of us have become acclimatized to it, but hundred’s of Territorian’s , both people and Commercial businesses suffer from weekly disruptions due to health issues attributed by heat stroke or extreme temperature changes brought about by exposure.
The Darwin City and its surrounding suburbs has been plagued by bad design and planning my entire lifetime. Even as a child I remember the discussions at BBQ’s and the like about the European buildings being built in the tropics. I came from a family where my Father was an entrepreneur in the building industry and my Mum for most of my childhood owned the Curly Corner Hair dressing salon.
Whether it be a Ray White (they were builders when I was a kid), Sitzler or Norbuilt Christmas Parties, Barclays, or later in life the Sunbuild, it was clear, the building industry had the knowledge, but clients and the NT Government wanted a certain look. I remember builder’s Architects and engineers like Morris Kelly trying to gain the ear of those people who had the power in the Government and council. I remember the excuse was always funding but to this day it wasn’t funding it was political will.
What the Top-end has been left with is a high maintenance concrete jungle, with many now retired builders hoping in pubs and clubs across Darwin for a Big one to blow the “old shit” away maybe start building something new.
So where am I going?
One of the most common concerns raised I heard as a kid was that of “cover”. The provision of shelter for people to walk from point A to point B without getting drenched. I remember the original disgruntlement and some complaints about the massive curved over-hanging eaves at the Darwin Performance Arts Centre, the massive drains and the way it looked "more like a shed than a building for a capital city". Not only does it still provide great shelter, It also redirects massive amounts of water in a clean and efficient way. Even the renovations since included massive shelter to the front of the premises, because it not only looked good and different, it worked!
We'll Fix it after the Next Big One
The next Big one will come and it will go but we need to change by-laws and planning requirements presently and the future. Just as there are 5 star and 6 star energy rating requirements for houses and some commercial facilities so should there be public safety requirements inclusive for foot traffic.
I propose that we implement a master plan to provide in partnership with developers and bodycorporate’s a public safety plan inclusive of shelter. A person/s should have the ability to walk from one side of Smith street or Knuckey street to the other without having to get substantially wet during 4 months of the year or be baked by the Sun the other.
Is the Plan too Big?
No! It will take time. I would expect given current development and improvements that it would take up to 23 year to complete the entirety of the Darwin CBD. But It is worth doing. Not just for the development and safety of the Territory but for the Tourists, guests and locals. It could provide -
Shelter from the elements
Unfettered foot traffic access to and from parking facilities and locations to commercial facilities and work places
Much needed infra-structure development
I don’t just wan’t this in the CBD, Commercial facilities should provide the same type of shelter and access through-out the suburbs .
Is there any where in the world with this type of design work?
No. It would be uniquely Territorian and provide us with a uniquely Territorian canvas for what we could provide with or in addition to it.
Artistic or Painted Ceiling with traditional art
Solar panel covering to provide power to NT facilities and lighting
Infrastructure to provide the “Darwin Safe Camera Network”
WE ARE NOT SINGAPORE!
I’ve read with interest the commentary from Past and present Politicians over the last few months discussing other major Cities like Singapore. I have been a frequent traveller to Singapore over the last 30 years and we do not want to be like Singapore. Singapore has some beautiful features. It is constantly under maintenance and re-construction. It is during the wet, HOT, really bloody HOT. The Air-conditioners continually break down due to the heat and humidity in the under-ground walking area’s the Building all have the AC turned on high and then you go out and start sweating immediately on Orchard road.
Singapore’s economy, resources, infrastructure and population are so vastly different and the majority of the population live in high-rise apartment complex’s of European design that have box air-cons and the such sticking out of the windows etc.
If you want to see a classic Singapore design go to Cardona Court in Darwin City and you will find almost exact replica’s of what you will find in East Jurong and upper Bedok North. (Next time your in Singapore catch the MRT to either suburb you will come back with a very different idea to our politicians)
Talk to people that live in Cardona Court, ask them how nice and Cool (Not) their apartments are, how the design incorporates air-flow and access. Don’t get me wrong they are nice apartments for Darwin but they are not tropical and they are high maintenance.
There are pockets of Singapore new developments that have done it well and almost right, however unfortunately due to bad economic forecast from local investors a lot of those assets are still empty because the rents are cheaper in the old buildings.
We Are Territorians
We can build the Top-end in a Tropical way, it is cheaper in the long run and conserves and if done correctly creates more energy. We don’t need to be looking outside Australia for a better way, often we don't need to look outside the Territory. Most people we have hired from down south have either been pigeons (flown in and shat on us) like the drainage designers for Berrimah and Karama that saw my parents and neighbouring house s flood in the early 90’s or think that we need to be like some other Major City that they failed in.
It is about time we started to listen to some of the local’s before they die or leave /retire south because they can’t afford to live in a concrete prison and pay for the electricity.
So if you want somebody who is a Local and is willing to speak to listen to and have a good discussion with the Blow-ins as well (cos there’s a lot of you that I consider locals) contact me today. Let gets this place Safe and Secure and make it a better place to live over the next 30-100 years.
Remember if you want to help me help you, please share your voice and vote for Sam4Rishardson this coming 26th August 2017. I have plan's for now and the future.
Note and Disclaimer :
Written and Authorized as an opinion piece by by Sam Wilks. The views included may not be those of others mentioned in the article but are those of Sam Wilks. However none of the views are to be accepted as financial advice. If you have other idea’s feel free to comment below. Idea’s and differing opinion is recognition of a free and just democratic society. A Society I am happy to live in. Please however try not to be abusive or discriminative, you may be. But if I feel that your opinion may be harmful or is reported as being harmful, I will delete it.