Belconnen arts and architecture

Saturday 30 July was a sunny day that encouraged a walk somewhere else in the city, besides the usual meander through the local streets.

Given the need to purchase some fabrics, Belconnen was the destination.

After success with fabric purchases within Belconnen Mall, and having parked alongside Margaret Timson Park, we wandered in the direction of the Belconnen Arts Centre. It had been a year or two since we had visited exhibitions here, so we were keen to see how the centre was going – and what there was to see.

However, on approaching the centre, our attention was taken by the lakeside walkways. The sun was shining and it was reasonably warm, so off we went for a walk and to explore lakeside urban design before indulging in visual artistic pleasures.

The immediate area of Emu Bank has a very practical wide concrete pathway with seating here and there and along the edge are concrete blocks, so a spot to sit and contemplate is easily found.

The grassed areas immediately behind could do with some care and possibly a few more seats – anything to make it more attractive. Time to employ some local landscape architects maybe.

 

(Above image) Looking back from a spot just beyond the end of the lakeside part of the walkway, that is now due for development according to the Suburban Land Agency signage, I wondered why the arts centre designers did not make more of the opportunity for an artistic and architectural statement with the building of the arts centre.

The main buildings do not present much of interest to the lakeside and the new theatre is a shed. This is the view that most people will have of the centre.

I suggest that some architectural and landscape improvements and attractive signage would encourage a few more to visit the centre – which has its main entrance up on the street.

The surprise for the day was the walkway to the east just beyond the back of the arts centre where an elevated metal wide walkway – bridge has been inserted to join to the longer walkways heading off around the lake to the east – ultimately to John Knight Park and beyond.

The bridge is a good piece of urban infrastructure that takes you over the water with ducks and plants below and beside you. It is wide enough to encourage separation of riders and walkers and enough areas for pausing to take in the views of the lake and landscapes beyond.

This lakeside walk is not well documented online. So when we returned home I had trouble finding online information about this new feature. You will have to take my word for it being a good bit of gear.

Well done to whoever was responsible for the concept and the design delivery.

I would encourage anyone in Canberra to head over to Lake Ginninderra and to make this walk your quiet adventure for the day. Locals seem to be using it for exercise (running – power walking) and recreation (meandering).

The views across the water to the north and east are excellent. As for the architectural views back into the residential areas, well there’s not much there that will be used for architectural tours in the future. Just more of the same.

Having enjoyed the walk and discovered a successful bit of urban design, we wandered back up to street level to the front doors of arts centre for those exhibitions.

We arrived at the front door at 2.30pm – it closed at 2pm. Bugger!

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This article is a version of the piece originally published online with City News

Paul Costigan is a commentator on cultural and urban matters

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