Thursday, October 11, 2007

Southern Cross saunter

Southern Cross station - a relief of light and space

The next morning, first thing, I parked the Yaris in a pay-park off Franklin Street, and we set off for breakfast across the road from the Stork. Sarah had had a word with the Stork's management, and found that there was more going on there than immediately met our eyes. They regularly staged plays - based on such works as Camus' The Fall, The Outsider and The Plague, as well as on the writings of Sappho [a World Premiere], Proust and Duras. Unfortunately we wouldn't be able to catch anything in our three-day stay.

Our brekky spot on Therry Street fronted the Victoria Street Market, and advertised itself as a home of the French breakfast and of multifarious croissants. It was relatively busy and I noted that just about all the staff were of Asian descent, and not a French accent to be heard. The French Brekky was fine though of course.

I suggested a walk to Spencer Street to examine the architecture of the controversial Southern Cross Station, and so we sauntered down some of the main streets, noting all the nearby eateries, buying phone credit and other bits and pieces.

I was impressed with the station, though I was probably determined to be, having been told once that it was a terrible eyesore by someone whose line in cut-and-dried contempt has always irritated me. The wavy roofing might seem pretentious and downright ugly to some - a gauche attempt to imitate something 'natural' - but it does manage to create an effect of tent-like lightness, the beige material stretched between looping tubular struts resembling canvas. Lots of glass connects spaces between and around these long flowing structures, bringing in plenty of natural light and providing sight-lines to many of the older buildings clustered around the station, and the open-air effect within is liberating and relaxing, as well as practical [easier to spot people]. Apparently the design has incorporated environmental requirements, relating in particular to train fumes. I don’t know if these effects are measurable, but I can certainly feel the breezes flowing through. An unfortunate side-effect of the classy redevelopment is that it makes the trains it uses look tawdry and tired, and makes the rubbish around the tracks more visible, but as you raise your eyes, as in a cathedral, it’s hard not to feel inspired by its beauty and vision. The structure won the Lubetkin Prize back in June, awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects for the most outstanding new building located outside of the European Union.

After wandering about in this space, we ventured up and across the Burke Street bridge, past Telstra Dome, also perhaps known as Docklands Stadium. In any case, this was the Docklands area. Our journey was disrupted suddenly when, stepping out from a sheltering wall, we were blasted by a wind that ripped my specs from my head and sent them skidding across the footpath. Chairs were blown across our path as we walked. Sarah was already exhausted from our foot-slogging, so we doubled back and took refuge among the new shops and cafes sidling the station. Recovered somewhat, Sarah went shopping for leggings while I settled down to finish Dennett's Breaking the Spell.



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