Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Outdoor theatre overlooking the Lake

As a city with a number of musical, radio, player and choral groups, the long and high bank of land facing north to the lake lends itself to the creation of a number of somewhat sheltered natural amphitheatre type spots for concerts, weddings and plays.  A great atmosphere too can be created by sitting on grass on warm evenings facing north with a confined focus where one can hear.
This proposal recommends you include these structures in the plan, especially a couple close to the garden café area.

As a member of several of the above named groups, I have been involved in quite a large number of performances in the gardens over a number of years. Such occasions, like those involving bands or choirs have often been greatly limited by the poor acoustic characteristics of the flat ground areas. The need is there, therefore for better confined sound shell areas. These are easily provided for by soundly planned cut and fill operations on the midslope areas. The potential of these attractive areas is currently underutilized due to the lack of easy access to them-- something that should be provided for as part of the construction process.  Local stone also increasingly featured in walls.
These earthworks would add significantly to the opportunity of small groups to perform without amplification. I have been involved in a variety of outdoor  performances and can tell you the need for somewhere where one can more easily hear what’s  going on is great especially when it can be provided at low cost as these largely earthworks based features would be.
 While such a venue could be placed in a variety of places this proposal is to capitalize on the existing attraction of an area nearest the highest bank, the cafe, and great garden areas nearby .  The largest of these areas (EF) could be developed as the lowest with great potential reaching an audience as far back as the gardens. While no sound shell is implied in the creation of AB CD or EF, at this stage this would make sense in a location like EF as well.

Excavated fill areas across the midslopes would be enhanced by walls and seats using the local limestones, basalts and classic rock stone wall types in the area.

Notice how the attractive midslope areas (opposite) could be better appreciated by easier and reasoned access to it and less overstorey cover. This is the recommended CD site.   
Additional structural works above ground works (eg A sound shell) could be inspired by the growing use of such areas and considered as a long term need as part of this plan.
This submission is simply to ensure you put some sound outdoor theatre locations in the plan.
The proposed excavations are small simple ones utilising the great northerly slopes that already exist below the gardens.
AB,CD and EF  are largely earthworks derived cones as shown.  The basic cost is low because the topsoil would be saved and respread  to cover the site with mow able grass on most of the site. Seating in the lowest/steep areas  is chieved by large cut stone and placing with the excavator. Proper drainage design will allow water to drain with minimal erosion and maintenance. Current cross slope varies from 25%- 35%. Higher slopes will limit size of grassed area in the situation.
This is a cross section of current area AB -----near the café

 An excavator would quickly save the topsoil, lower and shape the centre, place the cut rock block rock elements and help compact the fill and access area below. (  Approx 16m wide - more detail can be provided )

An oblique view

Feasibility—high cost benefit of earthworks planning
As an earthworks planner,  I am confident that the works could be carried out by local contractors at a very reasonable cost . Because of the high cost benefit of well planned earthworks across the plans 10 zones  there are other areas that could be looked at more closely ( eg Northern end of Armstrong and in providing a low cost entry for wheelchair persons at Stodart street west ) with a view to more extensive earthworks to make  access to the lower areas easier. Eg Avoiding the very high costs of access off Balnagowan[JM1]  avenue.

There must also be a case for making the existing high spot north of the Catholic school an even  higher  or clearer open effective wow point for visitors in vehicles . ( in same way end of Grant street is ) The carpark opposite the café would benefit from being levelled. The fill from there could easily be transferred to the existing carpark below (EF) to make them both flatter and more effective and easier to maintain as car parks.

Why the works should be included
1, Practical and needed creative arts focus
2.  Patterned like the amphitheatre at Red rock ---only more usable
3. Highly cost effective and low risk for children
4. Adds to the existing great features of the area –

The area around the garden café and the secondary regrowth on slopes below could be replanted  into a much more attractive and functional areas.  Currently full of overmature pines and wattles which need replacing.  Lowering and levelling the area opposite the café where cars park and replacing/widening the access down to the rotunda with a mixture of both open and closed landscape elements to highlight the attractiveness of the lake and hills for visitors.; adding open elements distracts attention from the buildings .These new grassed areas would provide a link element to midslope use with new elements of across slope access created to access the bowl shaped areas and the gardens beyond.
 As these photos show ,these midslope elements are underutilised and underappreciated because the paths to them currently are too steep.  Some lower slope path entries can be provided . The attractiveness of the treed midslopes could be enhanced by having more areas where there is largely only groundcovers and where landscape view is wide as it is at the end of Grant street.  There is insufficient areas of that diversity of view in eastern end of zone 4 and in zone 5 with many of the existing trees over mature and in need of replacement or removal. The need to open up the view in certain places must be part of the commitment in the plan as passing vehicle traffic is a major selling point for further engagement.  
5. Fits in with carparking and needed access changes   The transfer of earth is not expensive if incorporated into the planning of carparks  and improved outlook entrances ( sorely needed at the north end of Gellibrand street )  The photo shows how a larger redevelopment  could occur adjacent to lower car park ( can the existing  building be changed /removed ?)

Access to midslope and landscape diversity elements are inadequate.  Access to these midslope walks will be possible (not popular now) if sound shell spots are created.
Key Actions 
1.       Incorporate  landscape appreciation elements on the highest edges of the gardens and Queen’s street
2.       Implement wide ranging earthworks planning process as part of the plan. A little more height and openness in the right place can add significantly to the amenity of a landscape.
3.       Create open bowl outdoor sitting areas  with  engaging landscapes of soft stone ,stonewall fences , music appreciation plaques ( eg Band leaders ,Radcliffe,  Wheeler) sites AB,CD EF
4.       Identify trees for removal or replacement. esp pines and wattles
5.       Plan rock support structures using proper recreations of stone fences and use local  limestone to create benches for some theatre elements  (mostly grass)
6.       ( long term – 5yrs and beyond) Plan and design a sound shell for the largest of the reformed areas area east of the existing rotunda. Site EF



Little John said...

Stewart Anderson has just replied to say that in his opinion ( I am not sure how many others got involved) its not to be considered because "its a fixed structure" . Its not necessarily a fixed structure --its first and foremost an earthworks structure.
Anderson seems to think 3 phase power is needed to hear out door music and theatre. We had some celebrations in the park without 3 phase power.Oh dear !

Johnniem said...

Stewart Anderson has just replied to say that in his opinion ( I am not sure how many others got involved) its not to be considered because "its a fixed structure" . Its not necessarily a fixed structure --its first and foremost an earthworks structure.
Anderson seems to think 3 phase power is needed to hear out door music and theatre. We had some celebrations in the park without 3 phase power.Oh dear !