Hobart Waterfront International Design Competition 2006
ross langdon, dan devine
Dan reflects on his collaborations and friendship with Ross:
I was working in Perth, Western Australia, had handed in my resignation and booked a one way flight to London. I was sitting at my desk listening to the radio when I heard that familiar unmistakable voice of my old friend Ross. He had won the Realise Your Dream competition and the prize was flights to the UK and a position at an architecture firm of his choice. He was to land in London two months after me.
2006 was our first year in that fantastic city. I remember clearly sitting in a cafe on Curtain road, Shoreditch drinking coffee and discussing our new lives. London. Europe. Endless possibilities. It was exciting.
Towards the end of that first year, Ross tells me of an international ideas competition for Sullivans Cove – the Hobart waterfront. He wants to form a team. It was a chance to re examine our ‘home’ from abroad. A new perspective gained from being outside. To study our home town in a broader, global context. “We have a good chance, Dan. We know this town.” And so from London we looked back, studying the details from afar.
Both of us were working full time in office jobs (Ross at John McAslan + Partners after a short stint in Zaha Hadid’s studio). Ross took two weeks off to focus solely on the competition, while I could only manage evenings after work and weekends. Needless to say Ross did the bulk of the work. The living room in his flat near Portobello road was converted into a studio – walls collaged in drawings, sketches, research, all flat surfaces smothered in models and materials, cutting boards and scalpels. The evenings were a hum of excited conversations, a lot of debate and a constant flow ideas and the challenge was: how to get all this on paper? Distil this avalanche of thought and discussion into a coherent two pages?
For us it was a chance to try and understand what it means to live in Tasmania. On an island. At the end of the world. Next stop Antarctica.
We started with detailed mapping, the streets, the many subterranean arcades, the natural movement and flow through the existing city fabric, the hubs and public spaces, and the under-utilised parts of the city, residual and void. To this we bonded an array of ligaments that reinforced and extended, tying each grain of the city together, linking and assimilating each identified place - studying carefully how each one could be used, improved, reinvented, regenerated and re-imagined.
It was through these ligaments, movement and activity flowed, carving through the city like a river - peeling back its layers to reveal archaeology, our histories, to showcase and propagate our cultures, art and industry, connecting to and forming events spaces, to stitch in ecology and biodiversity, to celebrate Tasmania’s landscapes and patterns of landscape, revel in specific conditions of this unique place and ultimately to create new ways the city can be used, explored and interacted with.