One way of making sense of Adelaide as a city is in terms of it being akin to an American doughnut. The American donut is a sugary ring with an empty centre and is a fine metaphor for the rich suburbs around a collapsed inner city. The city centre was structured on the segregation of urban areas into retail, industrial and living areas whilst the suburbs were designed as a refuge from the bustle of city life.
Since the mid-20th century Adelaide, like other Australian cities, has been subjected to the "doughnut effect": the city centre becomes "hollow" as population moves from inner suburbs to the outer suburbs in search of newer, larger or more affordable houses. The ‘great Australian dream’ was a large house on a quarter-acre block in the suburbs. Consequently, Adelaide became a low density city.
People live in the suburbs on the urban fringe and work in the city. Since adequate public transport runs out well before you hit the real 'burbs' people travel to the city in the car to work, shop and play. The city centre is full of car parks, office buildings, shops and commuters.
The conception of the city as a doughnut overlooks that the hollowed out centre (CBD) was, and is, a place of mostly white collar work within high rise office buildings. In Adelaide these building are mostly in the bland modernist style: rectangular shapes of concrete and glass.
The hollowed out centre is mostly noticeable on the weekend: the streets are empty of people. It was devoid of vitality and the city centre had the feel of a urban wasteland or concrete jungle. The corporate model was a soulless landscape of glass, steel, and concrete boxes.
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