My dad is an avid ‘people watcher’. He likes to get out amongst it and soak up the ‘goings on’ of his community. It was only recently that I made the connection between this interest of his and my own interest in helping to create and sustain lively community places through place making. I like getting out amongst it too and helping there to be more in Perth to get out amongst! Could it be that place making is in the genes?
So for father’s day this year I decided to pass over the standard presents of socks, chocolates and wine; wanting instead to share with my dad some time out in our local community, exploring together some recent place making developments and (hopefully) getting a bit of a dose of cultural vitality. I chose Northbridge for our Sunday afternoon place making adventure. It was to be a bit of test really: would there be enough going on to keep us amused on a father-daughter date?
Well, we wondered down William Street through Chinatown, ran our eye over the construction of the State Theatre building, peeked in the window of The Bird bar and sampled a little rocket and lettuce from the Perth Cultural Centre’s Urban Orchard. My dad passed on the options of checking out an exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA, the ‘A Day in Pompeii’ exhibition at the WA Museum, browsing in the State Library bookshop or attending a contemporary theatre performance at PICA that were all on offer. He also wasn’t quite game for a traditional chinese massage from my favourite masseuse on James Street. Instead we wandered down to the Northbridge Piazza to soak up the dying moments of a footy final showing there on the big screen. (Did you know you there’s a daily TV guide to what’s screening that you can check online? You can also find Northbridge Piazza on facebook.)
From a place making perspective, there were some positives to be seen at the Piazza. Community places thrive on having activities and uses to pull people in. It’s evident that the footy final screening had attracted a range people to the space – groups of friends, couples, families, people who’d come prepared for the event and others who’d obviously just ‘stumbled on the fun’. The cafe is also working as a drawcard for people. Now, imagine if there were another 5 activities on offer in the space – an interesting artwork that kids could play on, some board games that you could rent from the cafe, free wireless internet, a roving street performer, or a long table lunch served up by Valentino’s Restaurant across the road perhaps? Additional activities and uses would help to attract more people to stop by and stay awhile at the Piazza and these people in turn would attract others who just want to soak up the vibe of a buzzing place. I’m hopeful that we’ll see more and more activities and uses layered onto this space in the coming months.
And so the final verdict on our father’s day visit to Northbridge? Whilst my dad and I certainly weren’t overwhelmed by the life and activity on the streets, I was pleased to find there were a variety of activities on offer and enough to keep us happy on our sunny Sunday afternoon sojourn. Things are getting better in Northbridge – why don’t you explore for yourself sometime soon and write a comment letting me know your thoughts on current place making developments in the area.