Architecture Australia - Gold Coast: A new cultural and urban condition for the twenty-first century
Essay by Virginia Rigney
Photography by John Gollings
It was said that cranes are the surest barometers of economic confidence on the Gold Coast, but new indicators are there iin unexpected places. Further down the strip, around Mermaid, Nobby's and Palm Beach, an enterprising food revolution of locally run, casually sophisticated restaurants and bars, such as Poke Poke and Etsu lzakaya, inhabits the once untenanted shopfronts. Big development was hit hard during the global recession, but in the local tradition of small-scale, entrepreneurial risk-taking, new opportunities were found outside of the historic entertainment hubs of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. Signage that once had to be large and compelling enough to catch the eye of the motorist speeding down the Gold Coast Highway is now, through the pinpoint accuracy of social media and Google Maps, able to be discreetly cool. Doors slide open to reveal a lively, all-week crowd that continues to enjoy the Gold Coast in the way described in the 1959 editorial: "the tight alleys and dim restaurants, where nobody can be noticed but everybody can be seen."
So what's the way forward? An architecture coupled with entrepreneurship and expressive flair - nimble and responsive to the very human desire for spontaneity and joy that is so integral to Gold Coast character, sensitive to the subtropics and expressive of place - an architecture of serious play waiting to be made and then remade again.
- Virginia Rigney is an independent writer and curator. She worked with John Gollings and Tony Styant-Browne on a major photography study of the Gold Coast, Learning from Surfers Paradise, published by Gold Coast City Gallery in 2013.
Article originally posted in Architecture Australia Jan / Feb 2018 - Gold Coast Edition