Docklands. A nice idea? A fabulous urban space in the making? Melbourne Docklands is touted as a world-class sustainable development. The grand plan is to extend the CBD by reclaiming former swamp and an extensive network of wharfs. The hope is that this area will be a successful mixed-use community for residents, office workers and visitors, that it will be vibrant area for entertainment, living, shopping, health, heritage and culture. So far, it's not getting there. When I listened to the representative from Places Victoria, the Urban Renewal Authority, speaking in the Corporate Head Office, a heritage listed five star office, it's easy to believe the dream. There is a lot of good being done in Docklands. There is thought behind the cranes and the waterfront vision. But down on the ground, it feels empty, un-human. The attempt at creating culture on a barren wasteland manifests itself in odd sculptures in random places. Do you hear sculpture exude its connection with art and humanity if there is no one to hear it? Walking around Docklands on a cold, raining day felt soulless. I can't see how it will work. Not for a long time anyway.
The average age of people living in Docklands in 25-34. Narrow field. There are no schools. There are buildings and water and...well, there's a Village Green...It's a patch of grass they've sown. In amongst the buildings. And there's an observation wheel that has never worked. Correction. It worked for a week before the design flaw revealed itself. The engineers did not count on the heat of the Victorian summer and the effect this would have on the metal structure. Brilliant.
If you build it, they will come.
But not always.
I wanted to like Docklands.
But I didn't.