It could well be the case that with the disappearance of the Holden car plant at Elizabeth, Adelaide is in danger of being a distressed city with its unemployment, run-down buildings, an inequality with its impoverishment part of the population, an underperforming public school system, declining living standards, and a limited skill base due to young people leaving to find work in Sydney or Melbourne.
It is true that a faltering Adelaide has begun the process of adapt and respond to economic change.in the form of re-invention--of slowly transforming into becoming a post-industrial city. This is a transition from producing and providing goods to one that mainly provides services. In a post-industrial society, technology, information, and services are more important than manufacturing actual goods. This, it is argued, is the path to recovery.
The subsidised casino, convention centre and sports stadium are designed to encourage urban development, give Adelaide a competitive edge in the competition between Australia's cities, and a new image as an attractive city in contrast to the rusting industrial image. Adelaide brands itself as a destination that seeks to attract visitors and a creative class of new residents in the CBD.
What I do find disturbing is that there are still a large number of empty shops in the CBD. The above picture is of an empty shop is in the western part of Hindley St, which is in the northwestern area of Adelaide's CBD.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I am returning to working on the Adelaide book project after couple of years. We left living in Adelaide's CBD about 3 years or so ago, and shifted to living on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula coast. Most of my daily photography on the poodlewalks now happens along the coast, whereas when we lived in Adelaide, the daily photography emerged from walking the CBD with the poodles.
Adelaide's CBD has changed since 2016. What is noticeable to me as a visitor about the new development in the CBD is the increase in both the high rise apartments and the coffee shops/cafes. Adelaide is becoming post-industrial.
Occasional day trips to Adelaide are all that I can do these days, and this particular trip was designed to pick up the photography from where I had left off 3 years ago. This photo was made on a day trip to Adelaide when I was able to spend some time wandering around the CBD as a flaneur. The above picture was taken from a car park behind the back of The Austral Stores building in Hindley St.
I have come across more pictures in the archives from my photographic sessions in and around Port Adelaide in 2011:
I made this picture whilst I was wandering around some edge lands along side the Port River estuary.
I have been going through my archives and realized that the images that I made in and round Port Adelaide do form part of the Adelaide book. The book is more than the images of the CBD of Adelaide. For some reason I had kept these two areas of Adelaide separate when I was photographing.
The Port is intrinsically connected to the CBD as it was, and still is, the terminal or exit point for South Australia's exports. Historically the exports were loaded onto ships at Port Adelaide. Today, the goods continue to be railed to the Port but they but they are now exported in containers through the container terminal in Outer Harbor.
This picture was made whilst I was on a recent visit to Elizabeth for the opening of Eric Algra's photographic exhibition This is Our Town. Elizabeth is a town that is struggling to come to grips with the closure of General Motors Holden car plant in October 2017; an event that ended more than a century of car manufacturing in Australia.
The recent Holden commemorative mural on the wall of the shopping centre ---Elizabeth City Centre--remembers the past as the town confronts the fallout from the 12,000 job losses in the northern suburbs from the ripple effect in the supply chain of the component suppliers, and the range of logistics companies as they close down.
The Holden plant closure represents the end of the old style nation building centred around industrialisation and manufacturing. Elizabeth was a planned community with a utopian vision for how modern life based around steady job and money, happy workers, orderly streets, stable families and a pleasant place to live. It was a car city that championed the car. It was a city going places.
When I used to poodlewalk around Adelaide's CBD when I lived in Sturt St (2005-2015) the people in the city outside of the office hours. were few and far between. The CBD was noticeable for the empty streets on the weekends -the doughnut city I called it. An alternative name could have been zombie town as the past cast a very long shadow over the city.
This started to change just before we left in 2015 to live on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Small bars were opening, more people were living in apartments, people were on the street outside of business hours and the laneways from the central market to the railway station were being developed
This is a significant change: a transformation from Adelaide being like a country town to Adelaide having an urban life. I notice the difference when I walk around the city with a camera 3 years later.
Hindley Street is the historically grungy street in Adelaide's CBD with little in the way of modernist Adelaide architecture. Historically, it has been the nightlife entertainment centre of a suburban and industrial Adelaide. Today the street consists of yiros outlets, shisha venues, convenience stores, massage parlours and pubs.
It is in need of a bit more diversity to overcome the tacky look of urban impoverishment. This is an example of the historical grunge:
Despite the recent emergence of a laneways and street culture in Adelaide, Hindley Street still has an image problem from the perspective of the city council. It is a counter image to the offical brand of the city.
The empty retail shops in the CBD of Adelaide are quite noticeable when I walk around the city on my visits from Encounter Bay these days. I interpret them as one of the signs of the difficult economic times associated with Adelaide's slow transition from being an industrial to a post-industrial city. This is still a city undergoing de-industrialization, with a stagnant population, high poverty and unemployment rates and increased homelessness.
Most of the new development in Adelaide's CBD since the recession caused by the 2007-8 global financial crisis has been apartment towers. All Australia’s state capitals have seen versions of this phenomenon, but the pace and scale of change in Adelaide is much less than it has been in Melbourne's Docklands or in the inner west of Sydney.
The exception to the apartment boom are the new buildings along the western side of North Terrace--that is the expansion of the Convention Centre and the new health and biomedical precinct around and down from the Morphett Street Bridge . The latter consists of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, (SAHMRI), the Health Innovation Building (University of South Australia), and the Adelaide Medical and Nursing Schools (University of Adelaide).
The CBD has been rapidly changing since we left living in the CBD in 2015. We just saw the start of the redevelopment prior to leaving to living on the coast. We had a sense of Adelaide being between its decaying industrial past with its rust-belt imagery (eg. of Whyalla) and a high tech driven future. The promise was one of revitalisation of a moribund urban life with its underperforming public school system, chronic public-sector management woes and pockets of intense outer suburban poverty.
This is one of the last images that I made with a large format view camera (a 5x7 monorail) before I left living in Sturt St in Adelaide's CBD to move down to Encounter Bay on the coast on the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. The photo was made early on a Sunday morning in the late autumn. Hence the empty streets.
It is of Wakefield House in Wakefield Street just east of Victoria Square. I do not think that it is heritage listed. Wakefield House is a heavy, concrete modernist building that would have had a utopian feel to it when it was first built and celebrated. This building represents the future. It stood for modern, industrial Adelaide. Today, my personal impressions is that the building has a historical, almost brutal look.
There are a number of such brutalist buildings in Adelaide from the 1960s/1970s.
There is a long history of architectural photography and this one is a modest architectural photo in a documentary style, rather than an atmospheric moment, or the specific look of the photographer. It does not strive to be the glossy architectural photo that one sees in the architectural magazines. It makes no pretension to be an architectural hero shot, namely the photo that gives a project an identity through being the face of a building. The hero shot is the image in commercial architectural photography that is done for the client which everyone goes ooh aah over.