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Adelaide Oval precinct: a design review

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The revamped Adelaide Oval received a big tick from the public for its performance during the Ashes Test – but what does Adelaide’s design community say, particularly about the contentious footbridge?

Andrew Wallace, lecturer in interior architecture at the University of South Australia and president of the West End Association

Although I will have to reserve my opinion on the bridge itself until completion, the walk across last Thursday was a great experience that even being drenched to my skin did not diminish.

The elegant curved deck affords amazing views of the up the river particularly of the dramatic Convention Centre extension and SAHMRI. On the Oval side we finally have greater access to the classic Adelaide view across the river to the city (will this be a new spot for proposals of marriage? Mind you it does make the Festival Centre look a little shopworn). On the city side the bridge brings to life the normally deserted riverbank promenade and most importantly the beautiful concourse of our Railway Station, reclaiming it as a public space not merely a circulation zone to the train or casino.

Most importantly it was genuinely exciting on the cricket days to see Leigh Street and Bank Street buzzing just as I thought they might. This new connection to our river and sports stadium could well be the turning point for the West End precinct, genuinely making it a place where tourists will want to eat drink and explore.

Daniel Bennett, National Vice President, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

The new footbridge has already (despite its incompleteness) proved its worth to the Riverbank, witnessed by the spectacular weekend (the cricket wasn’t bad either). Big congrats to the government, the builders and the designers for making it happen, and relatively quickly. A big bit of city shaping has just occurred. It proves that connecting the Oval to the bridge has created a much greater focus on people for the Riverbank.

However it also prises open another conversation, that of connecting the new bridge to North Terrace.

I have wandered down around the precinct the last few days to soak up the (fantastic) atmosphere. On the several occasions I have walked this short distance I measured about 2.3m width of footpath for people in front of the casino, the rest given over to cars and car parking. Hopefully the pedestrian modelling for the bridge considered this critical walking link, to make it wider and more generous, and extend the atmosphere all the way to North Terrace, creating new opportunities to recapture this space for people.

If we get it right, like the new bridge, it will create the seminal Adelaide walking experience from North Terrace, past our Parliament (the House of the People), past the Casino (the House of Hope), past the Festival Centre (the House of Fun), then crossing to the ultimate House of Sport – the Oval. Then we will connect our icons, and create the much needed focus around the Riverbank.

Brendon Harslett, Design Institute of Australia SA President

The connectivity that our new bridge gives between the two entertainment precincts will be a vital factor in the rejuvenation in user activity within this area.

The economic opportunity for existing and future businesses on the southern shore after oval events has the chance to capture the activity in the area, providing another dynamic to the Rundle Street, Gouger Street and Hindley Street options.

After driving past and observing the construction of the Adelaide Oval since it began, and thinking I knew what to expect, it was an inspiring experience to walk from the city, over the bridge into the ground’s new southern entrance on Friday morning. The Team at Woods Bagot, Cox Architecture, Hames Sharley, Walter Brooke, The Adelaide City Council, and the State Government are to be commended for their energy and results in transforming this beautiful part of the city.

 

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