Let Our History Be The Attraction

‘Take the Pasha as an omen for renaissance’ by Gionni Di Gravio

Last week as the panic and despair unfolded over the twin decisions of GPT and DJs to leave town, my mind drifted back to July 2007 when the Pasha Bulker left town.

Many CBD retailers and shop owners were sad to see it go, because their sales had doubled while it was here.

At long last Newcastle had an ‘attraction’ that everyone was clamouring to see, and on the way, bought something at their shops.

As the Pasha Bulker floated back out to sea, Newcastle sank back into its usual divisions and arguments.

In ancient times such a dramatic event would have been seen as an omen. Poseidon, god of the sea, threw that ship out of the ocean and smack dab in the middle of Nobbys. His message to us may have been something like ‘Build it and they will come’.

We need to create a beautiful and awe inspiring attraction. Yes, it could be an even bigger shopping centre, but that’s only as good as the next bigger one. But Newcastle has something more to offer, its history, its culture, its natural beauty. All lie at the heart of the Australian nation. Why not glorify that?

Back in 2008 Council unanimously adopted Boyce Pizzey’s Coal River Precinct Conservation and Cultural Tourism Management Plan. This would have created a magnificent visual attraction at the top of town. Imagine the Fort Scratchley search light with 4 other light cannons criss-crossing the evening sky, each beam representing one of the five foundation stories of Newcastle, along with a sound garden. Nothing ever came of it.  Why?

In 2009 a young final year Master of Architecture student Andrew Cavill designed a magnificent discovery centre, a ‘Newcastle Opera House’ style building called ‘The Midden’ adjacent to Nobbys Beach.

Exhibition Panel No. 1 for 'The Midden' by Andrew Cavill

Exhibition Panel No. 1 for ‘The Midden’ by Andrew Cavill

Exhibition Panel No. 2 for 'The Midden' by Andrew Cavill

Exhibition Panel No. 2 for ‘The Midden’ by Andrew Cavill

 

The University even commissioned a new symphonic and choral work for Newcastle by Colin Spiers called ‘A Slender Strand of Memories’.

This year has seen our member for Newcastle buy back the former Newcastle Post Office and place Nobbys and the Carrington Pump House into public ownership and management as well as undertake the formal heritage listing of the James Fletcher Hospital site.

Imagine a symphonic work performed outside the Carrington Pump House, at dusk, lit up like a Roman temple, with concert goers sailing across the harbour from the Maritime Centre, to witness the performance under the stars in candle lit gondolas.

Imagine the ground floor of the Newcastle Post Office with a permanent display of Newcastle’s historic records that verify the great accomplishments and our global relations across time. Imagine those beautiful series of Panoramas from 1812 to the present spanning the walls of our city.

We are nothing without our history, and our records, lay testament to who we are as a people.  All these things could become real if we wish them to be. Dreams are always dashed when someone say’s ‘its too expensive’ and the result invariably is we don’t do anything exciting.

The dreams and aspirations of our creative people are the missing pieces of the ‘magnet’ that will attract the visitors, and they deserve all the investment and respect they require.

Egypt has its pyramids, and we have a rich and older Aboriginal culture and unique colonial heritage that is world class if we wish to acknowledge and look after it. I’m sure the Egyptian government doesn’t have to worry about revitalising their Cairo CBD, and neither would we have to worry about our CBD if we choose to promote our unique history on the world stage. Of course we can’t do that if we are clamouring to bury or eliminate it because it’s in the road of ‘progress’ and ‘revitalisation’.

Too often the protection of our heritage is pinned against business will in a fight to the death to build something new and shiny. The new and shiny wins most of the time.  I see a multitude of new shiny apartment buildings boxing the Newcastle skyline. Have they revitalised the CBD?  Perhaps we need to think outside these boxes?

When people speak of the urban renewal, let’s talk about a Novocastrian Renaissance instead. And rest assured that the more we look back, the more inspired our future becomes. Our business is a product of such aspirations and so I solemnly ask we come together for Newcastle. As the poet Vergil declares in his crowning work the Aeneid, let’s do it for the ‘Fame and Fortune of Our Descendants’ .

Gionni Di Gravio

City’s History a hook for tourists by Tim Connell. Newcastle Herald 2 September 2010 p.7

‘The Midden’ is Launched

Students show an eye for design - Andrew Cavill's 'Midden' is launched

Students show an eye for design - Andrew Cavill's 'Midden' is launched

One of our final year Master of Architecture students Mr Andrew Cavill has, for the past year, been working on a design for an iconic interpretation, discovery and learning centre at the Coal River Heritage Precinct in Newcastle East. ‘The Midden’, as it has been called, officially went on Exhibition this week.

On behalf of the University’s Coal River Working Party we congratulate Andrew for the outstanding work and commitment he has undertaken for this project. We are delighted with his design and words cannot express the joy of seeing such a beautiful concept reach fruition.

We hope that it can inspire a refreshed approach to re-modelling our city’s birthplace.

I want you all to imagine a beautiful and iconic ‘Newcastle Opera House’ style building at the Coal River Precinct, birthplace of this city. At dusk, above our heads, the light cannon sculptures (as proposed in the Boyce Pizzey Cultural Tourism plan) illuminating our foundation stories, come into being one after another, these light beams culminating together in a central point or ‘star’ above the precinct and its Centre. On earth, the Conservatorium orchestra and choirs perform our sesquicentenary piece. This would be such a beautiful cultural happening for the City. We hope and pray that one day such visions can become a reality.

Gionni Di Gravio – University Archivist and Chair – University’s Coal River Working Party

Please Click here for the NBN News Story – ‘Visions for Newcastle’  featuring Andrew briefly speaking about his design. Broadcast Date: November 13, 2009.
http://www.nbntv.com.au/index.php/2009/11/13/visions-for-newcastle/

Exhibition Panel No. 1 for 'The Midden' by Andrew Cavill

Exhibition Panel No. 2 for 'The Midden' by Andrew Cavill

Launch of Coal River Interpretive Centre Design “The Midden”

[In Transit] University of Newcastle Final Year Architecture Exhibition 2009

In Transit - University of Newcastle Final Year Architecture Exhibition 2009

In Transit - University of Newcastle Final Year Architecture Exhibition 2009

In Transit - University of Newcastle Final Year Architecture Exhibition 2009

All are welcome to attend an exhibition of designs by 2009 final year architecture students. The Invitation flyer for [In Transit] University of Newcastle Final Year Architecture Exhibition 2009 is above and the event is to be launched Friday November 13th 2009 at 6pm (for 6.30pm) at the Architecture Design Studio University of Newcastle.

Of especial interest is the final design by Andrew Cavill for ‘The Midden‘ which is the title of his beautiful and inspiring design for the Coal River Interpretation Centre. Andrew has synthesised thousands of years of Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s cultural and environmental heritage under the one roof in an iconic building design.

'The Midden' - Concept Design for Coal River Interpretative Centre by Andrew Cavill

'The Midden' - Concept Design for Coal River Interpretative Centre by Andrew Cavill

For the past year University of Newcastle architecture student Andrew Cavill has been working on plans for the historical, cultural and environmental interpretation, discovery and learning centre as part of his final year project. The final design has brought to life an iconic building structure that could will do Newcastle a great honour if the vision could be ever be realised. It includes exhibition and theatre spaces, art and craft and restoration and conservation workshop areas.

'The Midden' - Concept Design for Coal River Interpretative Centre by Andrew Cavill

'The Midden' - Concept Design for Coal River Interpretative Centre by Andrew Cavill

The goal is to improve our understanding of how Newcastle has developed into the city of today,  Mr Cavill said.

So please come along to support this fantastic new vision for the Newcastle’s Coal River Heritage Precinct.

Andrew Cavill - designer of 'The Midden' Architectural Concept design for Coal River Heritage Precinct Newcastle Australia.

Andrew Cavill - designer of 'The Midden' Architectural Concept design for Coal River Heritage Precinct Newcastle Australia.

WHEN: Friday November 13th 2009 at 6pm
WHERE: Architecture Design Studio University of Newcastle
COST: Free

[In Transit] University of Newcastle Final Year Architecture Exhibition 2009 (PDF file 512KB) – Download the invitation flyer here

Design for Coal River – Mulubinba Interpretative Centre

Andrew Cavill is a 5th Year Architecture student at the University of Newcastle that has chosen to design an interpretative centre for the Coal River Heritage Precinct as his final year project.

Vision of heritage showcase

Vision of heritage showcase