architectural photography

This is one of the last images that I made with a large format camera 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 is a long history of architectural photography and this one is a modest architectural photo in a documentary style rather than an atmospheric moment.   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  done for the client that everyone goes ooh aah over. 

Sixth Street, Bowden

These  Bowden street scenes are a part of Adelaide's working class and urban history. Bowden--- and Brompton--- were once counted among the least desirable suburbs in Adelaide. The expansion of the very industrial and commercial premises which had sustained the working class community in the nineteenth century caused a decline in the close-knit working class  community and  by the 1930s Bowden and Brompton was classified as one of Adelaide’s slums.   

 The  Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study, released in 1968,  meant that  the Highways Department proceeded to buy properties.  Many houses owned by the Highways Department showed that their standard fell much below the general standard of housing in the area. Even though he North-South Transportation Corridor proposal was finally abandoned in 1983   The  suburbs became  progressively more run down during the 1990s,  the small scale housing  degenerated, and as a consequence of its closeness to Adelaide and manufacturing districts, the suburbs become a centre for storage, commercial or wholesale purposes.      

The closure of the gasworks that dominated Brompton in 2000 and Clipsal Industries' relocation from Bowden in 2009 provided an opportunity for re-development of these suburbs.  Many of the buildings in Bowden have been pulled down as part of the process of urban renewal. The factories, working class cottages and warehouses have been replaced by  parks and houses by what is known as Bowden Village. 

These street scenes, and the people who lived there,  are part of Adelaide's history that is forgotten. Few will remember them.  Few lived here. Little will be protected as heritage, for Bowden signified, for respectable  Adelaide, the negative of  civilised urban living. It was seen as dystopia: a polluted,  industrial place  full of dead  beats, bums and  alcoholics. 

O'Halloran Street

O'Halloran Street

This yellow building has since been painted over in battleship gray  and it now looks very drab. A lot of Adelaide's pre-modernist  commercial and domestic architecture is drab and ugly and in various states of decay.

These functional warehouse buildings are left over from the old industrial economy that was based on manufactured goods,  and they have yet to be converted  for use in the new informational economy and  its  service  industries. 

The above picture indicates that the only space for people is the footpath as most of the space between the buildings is given over to the road and to the car. There are few attempts to create a piazza for people in Adelaide.  It is not a European city, though it could become one. 

Although Adelaide is a very walkable city, it is not a people friendly one.  The Adelaide City Council's longterm plan is to encourage more people to live in the city and to make it their home,  yet Adelaide is still  an automobile slum, with an urbanscape dominated by carparks, cars, fumes, car noise and roads. Little attempt is being made to roll back the car from the CBD. The local traders oppose any move to roll back the car. It is bad for business. 

This urban design that has modified the grid  system of  the city of Adelaide  for the car now shapes how we live in the city. Though there  is increased demand for inner city living and a preference for urban (as opposed to suburban) lifestyles there is little conversion of offices and warehouses for residential use taking place.

There is little in the way of inner city development that converts the alleyways in the CBD  into  bars enhancing the opportunities for venues serving the arts and live music scene, supporting the  wine industry and generally making the  city and high streets stay awake past 5PM.