17 December 2008

Passing Reminiscences

From the Gosford Times. 22nd of December 1899

Passing Reminiscences

(By Nettle)

What was Gosford like then?
Why a lot better than it is now; more money and less people to share it among. We got something like a price for sticks then, when we loaded the ketches and schooners, till they were as low as it was safe for them to swim to Sydney, with sawn timber or shingles. Then it was no distance to go for it. Why, bless your heart, we had only to go round the back of the mountain at the back of East Gosford and there you could cut for twelve months without shifting camp. Besides there was always two or three pairs of sawyers within cooee, so that when supper was over we would gather round and some rattling yarns were told; stories of the old hands who had to rough it in real earnest. They must have had real grit in them, for they had nothing of what you call luxury. They had corn beef, flour, corn meal and tea and sugar, that’s all – except rum – and they could stand it; their stomachs were as tough as their hides; and when I was a boy all the disputes among mates were drowned in a tot of grog on pay day. Then I heard father say as how the blacks were a great nuisance, not savage, but regular sneak thieves. You could not keep a fowl for them. Why, they would get a fish hook and a grain of corn and a bit of string and fish for the fowls while there was one left. Then of course we didn’t spin yarns all the time. We went down to Venteman’s (?) pub sometimes and had a high old time. But those good old times have gone, and I find it very hard to drop into these new fangled ways that people have today. Most of the old hands have gone too, and most of my old mates have been dead years and years now, and some of them as good men as ever looked through a tumbler. But those good old days suited us. The youngsters wanted the pace a bit faster; so they made it to suit themselves, and we old chaps had to stand aside. But what a day we had when the first steamer came. Why many of us had never seen a steamer before, and we took a few glasses of grog before we could understand how the old tub went without sails. Then came the Black Swan and the Alchemist and the Pelican and all the rest of later days. But what took my breath away altogether was to hear of the railway coming to Gosford. It seemed to break up all the old ideas. Fresh people came to the district; they cut the land up into little bits and called them town lots, away out in the bush where you want a brush hook and a warrant to find them. And then they elected Harry Wheeler Mayor and incorporated the town, and do you know that they kick up a row if you turn your horse or cow out to feed on the street. Bye the bye they are talking of building baths for the people to wash themselves in. Why in my time we just peeled off and tumbled in anywhere. But they seem to be making a different place of it altogether; they are building smart houses to coax the City folk here. But we don’t like to see them gong too fast and we steady these young people of ours as well as we can, but there will have to be a few respectable funerals in Gosford before they have it all their own way. But perhaps it might be best after all, for we old hands must soon pass in our checks. Then it won’t make any odds to it. But I like to think of those dear old days when we had to work well, and got well paid for it.

03 November 2008


A Tip for tomorrow's race. A late entry, Gosford Challenge. An outsider who has had many starts without success, but has caught the eye of some prominent racing indentities.

“The Gosford Challenge is a comprehensive masterplanning process that will design and renew the City Centre. The Project Sponsors, Council and the Department of Lands (Lands), seek a Design Partner to prepare, design and implement the masterplanning process and a Development Partner(s) with the capacity to deliver catalyst projects involving public land.”
The proposed partner selection process, has been developed in consultation with the William Kerr Company... (and) does not fully conform to the general Local Government Act, Tender Regulations.

The Gosford Challenge selection process for the Design Partner and Development Partner(s) will commence with the release of the Request for Proposal on the 5 November 2008.

A disconcerting aspect of the Challenge is the apparent blind following of the William Kerr model from Coburg and the overriding of Tender Regulations. There would seem to be too great an opportunity for some parties to be given the inside running.
Perhaps a more radical planning vision is needed for Gosford to be at the forefront of change and innovation, something that could profitably be embraced as an aspiration, and perhaps should be, in the 21st Century.

Meanwhile in the 19th Century Gosford’s Challenge was much as it is today.
From the Gosford Times, 10th November 1899:

Mr Jas, Kibble, who recently purchased a number of allotments in the Alison estate in Gosford, is having some fenced preparatory to further improvements being effected. It is a pity that owners of other vacant blocks, which are a public eyesore, would not follow Mr. Kibble’s example.

22 September 2008

May Acquire School Land

Interesting item from the Gosford Times past, in light of the ongoing discussions about the future of the centre of Gosford.

29th August 1950

May Acquire School Land
Acquisition of an area of land at present occupied by the Gosford Primary School will be the objective of a Gosford Shire Council committee which was appointed yesterday.
The Council had been asked by the Education Department for an area of land near the new school site at Gosford through which Baker Street will pass if it is extended south.
Prove an asset
The committee consists of the B riding representatives (Crs Downes, Chambers and Parsons) and Cr W.B.Grahame.
They will consider handing over the baker Street extension in return for the school area.
It was stated that the school ground would provide the council with an asset which could be exploited as a business proposition similar to the Kibble Estate.

14 September 2008

Kibble Park Plans

You will be aware of the invitation to comment on plans for the improvement of Kibble Park.
If you have not done so, and think it will help, check the plan at the council website and act quickly.

The following is a summary of one response that will be sent.

Eliza Street Closure.
I fully support he closing of Eliza Street and consider that doing so is essential to any redesign of Kibble Park. While local shopkeepers might be concerned about loss of parking adversely affecting trade, in reality the number of spaces lost would be insignificant for Gosford as a whole, and the resulting improvement to the park as an amenity, and an attraction, would more than compensate. Parking should be last, not first, priority in urban design according to leading contemporary thinking, particularly given coming changes in transport due to climate change pressures. As it is, there is rarely parking space to be had in Eliza Street at busy times.
Eliza Street as it is destroys the parks major attribute as a place of repose and relaxation. In fact the car park in the Master Plan, if not removed altogether cold be reduced in dimension to limit the amount of paved surface intruding into the park. An argument could be made to confine it to only handicapped and ‘pram’ parking to service the library. Gosford’s parking problems will not be solved by keeping half a dozen parking places in the park, whereas the park, if well designed, will considerably enhance the attractiveness of the town.

Kibble Creek
Another beneficial aspect of the Master Plan is the celebration of the original creek with its meandering water feature reminiscent of the original stream. This is important in terms of historical identity and recognises the natura flow and form of the land. Its positioning is dealt with later in these comments.

A children’s playground is an excellent addition to the park. However if built in the position indicated on the draft Master Plan it would dominate the park’s ambience to too greater an extent, and together with the car park would still essentially bisect the park and so undermine the open space quality that people like.
A more sympathetic location for it would be where the proposed water feature is indicated on the plan.
As the parent of a two year old child, I would find the location near William Plaza a more comfortable place as the Plaza would extend the sense of space around the playground.

Entrance and egress. (Creating an initial impression).
The entrance from William Plaza would work well with the playground on the left and a path leading ‘upstream’.
Access from the corner of Henry parry Drive and William Street fails now due to a barrier of palm trees, but would work well with them removed. The eye would then be drawn into the park to a ‘feature’ (perhaps a planting with strong verticals rather than the ‘sculpture’)

Moving the taxi stand towards William Plaza and closing Eliza Street, would improve the entrance from The Imperial Centre, which at present is a nightmare of cars, smokers, taxies and people waiting for transport. Perhaps taxis could wait in Mortimer lane with two pick-up and set-down spaces in William Street west of the Shopping Centre entrance.

If a car parking area is retained near the Library, access from Donnison Street will fail on aesthetic grounds.

More thought needs to be given to the points of transition to give Gosford’s central park a clear identity. Visitors need to discover an example of civic aspiration, not a ‘backyard’.

Kibble Café.
The Kibble Café is a problem for the park. It is poorly patronised and its training function does not integrate with public space requirements. Perhaps it would be better to move the service industry training to one of the many empty shops in Gosford. If a food outlet is required in addition to those already in the vicinity, an example of one that is well patronised can be found in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney where good quality takeaway food can be eaten outdoors.
The existing facility would be better utilized for functions that add to the ambience of the park and entail activities that would increase the types of usage. In particular, uses that would reflect a change in thinking towards knowledge and creative industries as being central to establishing economic viability in emerging economies globally. The Cultural Spaces and Places Report, currently in stage two with council, and the Cultural Plan identify two possible options.

1. Contemporary Art Resource Centre. This is a clearly identified priority for the CBD.
2. An extension to the Library to house the local studies collection, including space for displays of historical documents and images.

Both would function interactively with other park uses for regular activities and special events, as well as attract tourists.
The building could also incorporate an ‘urban screen’.

People understand the language of public space in terms of central park, civic square, town common, village green etc. and have associations evoked by those concepts. These reflect a need that people feel in Gosford which has no town hall, meeting rooms and places for common activities and civic assemblies.

In this regard I believe that Kibble Park would benefit from re-orienting the Library so that the main entrance was from the park. Incorporating the library more fully in the plan would be a positive measure, not withstanding its uncertain future, as it symbolically places culture and learning at the heart of the town, which is struggling to define itself.

I would suggest that it be re-oriented so that the entrance was on ground level in Kibble Park. At present the ‘back’ of the library is dead space and the entrance from Donnison St. is unattractive, and feels ungenerous. Lines of approach through the park would add both to a sense of active presence for the library and inclusion with the life of the park.

Central path.
While this might work in larger parks, such as Hyde Park in Sydney, the scale of Kibble Park does not suit such rigid geometry. While it would be useful in establishing unity in design and creating lines of passage, in the Master Plan the central line does not link items of significance. The path in Hyde Park, as an example, links the Archibald Fountain and the War Memorial, in Kibble Park the path links the unknown sculpture with an empty seating space.
Unless there is a clear vision for the sculpture, perhaps it would be better as a planting (Gymea Lilies?). A feature in that vicinity could be useful, particularly if it lifted the gaze.

Rather than a straight path, perhaps consideration could be given to a meandering path, echoing the stream and leading past or near the water feature.

Water Feature and Fountain.
Moving the fountain, with its 1970s brown bathroom tile surround, and replacing it with a different water feature is a good aspect of the plan.
Perhaps rather than relocating it in the park, it could be installed as a static sculpture on the forecourt of the Council building in Mann Street. This would enhance the Council building, which at the moment is uninviting, and the styles would be compatible. The theme of the fountain (family) would be appropriate to Council’s public relations objectives, as would a gesture to culture. Importantly Kibble Park would be less cluttered.

If the playground could to be located closer to the William Plaza/Mortimer lane corner, an ideal site for the water feature would be close to the site of the old Gosford wells. This would place it in an historically significant location and situate water, with its metaphoric links to life, centrally in the park in the heart of Gosford.

Consideration should also be given to the aesthetic quality of the water feature so that it could be of iconic significance for the town rather than just another suburban public space design element. An international sculpture/design competition would be a good way forward to achieve results as well as be good promotion for the town.

Exercise stations.
On a negative note, the inclusion of exercise stations is unnecessary and counterproductive.
They will entail maintenance and repair from vandalism as well as increase the risk of accidents. While the provision of these facilities on Council land is to be encouraged, perhaps it would be more practical to locate them at the waterfront alongside the walking/cycling/jogging track where they could be integrated with other exercise regimes.
As a gym member and exerciser, I think that after an initial burst of activity, the equipment would be under utilised and become a hangout for unenergetic youths. In addition, people using exercise equipment want a place to shower and change, and these are not included in the plan.
Further, they add unnecessarily to a sense of clutter.

The addition of more benches and tables is good, but care must be taken to ensure they are horizontal, unlike the bizarrely sloping picnic tables now installed.

William Street.
Retaining the covered wisteria walkway along William Street would be preferable to the all weather sails proposed.
The living wisteria is better ecologically and it provides a usage niche on a different and more intimate psychological scale to the rest of the park. Also it softens the ugliness of the Woolworth’s/Imperial Centre brick wall.

Drivers do not respect the shared road concept, and crossing to the park is hazardous even for able-bodied people. Perhaps extending the one-way system in Mortimer lane as far as the eastern end of the present Eliza Street intersection would help. If any parking must be kept in Eliza Street near the library, perhaps it could be restricted to ‘pram’ and ‘handicapped’ vehicles.

This would be of possible use if well designed, but should be of low priority, with potential vandalism issues.
I would be concerned about more humps in the ground when the natural slope from Donnison Street could be used (exercise stations deleted). I also consider that there would be advantages in moving the stream closer to the diagonal path that runs from the corner of Donnison and Henry parry Drive to where the underground stream is now. The path would then parallel the stream through the centre of the park passing to the south of the water feature (old Gosford wells).

The overall impression of the Kibble Park Master Plan is of unnecessary clutter despite a simplifying intention indicated by the closure of Eliza Street and the central walkway ‘spine’.
Local government plans often seem to try to please everyone (parents, exercisers, retailers, parkers etc.) with the effect that results are compromised and lack clear vision and a strong design statement. We are left with a malaise that afflicts many public space plans, of trying to fit in too much. Why Australians fear open space, other than as an opportunity to exploit, is a question for another time.

The idea of public space is changing. Some people want a civic square; a central park, an entertainment venue, a garden, a town common, a village green, a suburban playground. New ideas are coming from technology, such as Castell’s theory of the space of flows. We ask whether we want our experience to be inspirational, aspirational, or recreational.

Perhaps the answer lies in the vision we have for the future of the town, rather than in a list of wants based on present pursuits.

Open space is an asset with intrinsic value. It is place for tranquillity, repose, and reflection; a place to loiter without intent. It is in psychological terms, potential or transitional space, being flexible and undetermined. There is a feeling that the master Plan is over-determined, and as such will require future spending and remodelling.

Physical Context.
While the facilities and design are important, the flow between the park and its immediate and further surrounds is vitally important. This is difficult with Kibble Park as it is bordered by ‘dead zones’ - Henry Parry Drive, Donnison Street, Half of William Street and Mortimer Lane.

Outstanding features of Kibble Park are the views of the hills to the east and west.
More thought could be given to highlighting the lines of sight to these natural horizons. Interactive optical devices, sundials, sculpture and framing devices could be used to link the ground and the sky. The park needs to look upwards.

Kibble Park is a rare opportunity to set a vision for the town beyond simply its commercial function, important though that is. Alone that will not achieve a unique identity for the town, as we have seen.


Some information that might be of interest about two events that provided material upon which the above comments were based.

In March 2008 an open forum was held in Kibble Park. It was organised by Gosford Art Flux Forum and featured presentations by Professor Steffen Lehmann, Dr. Astra Howard, international artist Cida de Aragon and Professor Anne Graham amongst others.

Professor Steffen Lehmann is the Artistic Director of the ‘Back to the City’ project in Newcastle, a new biannual public arts festival about temporary interventions in public space. He is a German-born architect and urban designer and holds the Chair in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle. He is Founding Director of the s_Lab Space Laboratory for architectural Research and Design (Sydney-Berlin).

As part of the event we conducted a psychography survey and mapping exercise where people were asked to mark the places to which they were most attracted on a large map of Gosford CBD.
From the results, it was clear that the eastern end of Kibble Park was the most valued place in town. Not one mark was placed on the western end. Without further research it would seem that green open space was desired while the paved, over-determined and cluttered western end held no appeal. The library itself had some positive hits.

In November, 2007, Sydney based artist Astra Howard brought her SPI Vehicle (a transparent booth with walls on which conversations could be written from inside and out) to Gosford city centre. Dr. Howard regards her artwork as action-research. She mostly works in public places where she can engage in “conversation” with people about things of interest to them.

She has worked in major urban centres in Australia and overseas, and also worked extensively with homeless people and other marginalised communities. She has adopted a social science methodology in her art practice with a goal of calling for greater recognition of the dynamic and interactive relationship formed between individuals and external urban environments – collectively envisioning a vibrant and vital public space.

The conversations that took place were documented.

06 September 2008

Cultural traditions

November 1, 1895.
Sunday Afternoon in Gosford


Sir, – I think the subject on which I wish to write a few lines is of sufficient public importance to request you to publish the following. I was an eye witness (unobserved) to the most villainous attacks on two ladies this afternoon by a number of youths and young men (pardon my abusing the word “men”) congregated in front of a small shop in the main street. A lady walked quietly up the street; as she did so, these fellows commenced whistling and calling out something offensive (the whole of which I could not make out). Next a young girl came along and after her they whistled and literally yelled. How many more they attacked, I did not wait to see.
Where are your policemen on Sunday? Or have you any? In my professional capacity, I have visited the worst and lowest parts of London, New York, Sydney and other places, but anything like this I have never witnessed. I was thankful I had not to bring my family to reside in such a community and glad I shall be able to shake the dust of Gosford from my feet, upon the arrival of the 7.35p.m. train.
Hoping I have not trespassed too much on your valuable space. Yours &c.,

24 July 2008

Gosford by Moonlight

To coincide with the opening of the exhibition at the Gosford Regional Gallery at full moon last Friday, titled "A Sense of Place", we present a poem from The Gosford Times.

5th May, 1899

Gosford by Moonlight
(For The “Times”)

I stood on the range o’or Gosford,
At the lonely midnight hour,
When the moon at the full was shining
With a wondrous golden power.

I gazed on a fairy scene below
That spread upon either hand,
The golden moonlit water,
The shadowy, dreamy land.

And Gosford lay in her cradle there
In robes of shimmering gold,
Slumbering like a fairy child
Embraced in a fairy fold.

And all was still save a distant hum
That sailed in the calm repose;
T’was the solemn moan of the restless sea,
That up to the ranges rose.

My God! What a cry, like a banshee’s wail,
From that lone bird as it flew,
Wailing all round that ghostly cry
Curlew! Curlew! Curlew!

O my soul drank deep of the magic there
As I gazed on each moonlit bay,
And my tongue burst forth in rapture loud
As I turned to move away.

Oh! for a soul, a burning soul
I cried as I gazed all round,
To paint on a canvas glorious
The picture that there I found.

Cean O’C

05 July 2008


To keep people in Gosford town, to stop them straying to the shopping malls for entertainment and company, and heading down the freeway to find culture, perhaps we could erect some cardboard decoys.
Perhaps we need some phantom art centres, film theatres, museums etc. and real coffee shops open after 5pm to cater to the expectant crowds.

German nursing homes are using a novel strategy to stop Alzheimer's patients from wandering off: phantom bus stops.
"They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home."
The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.
"We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later and invite them in for a coffee," said Richard Neureither, Benrath's director. "Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave."

The allure of an illusion of a promise.

There are many possibilities.

Virtual speed humps are part of a campaign called Drive CarePhilly.
The fake speed humps are being installed at 100 junctions around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of a campaign against aggressive driving.

The images will appear as 3D barriers to oncoming motorists, although the road is completely flat.

In Vancouver cardboard police with radar guns are being installed to curb speeding.

Cheap solutions are often effective.

In Britain, the most recent Home Office report on urban surveillance found that better street lighting is seven times more effective at cutting crime than CCTV.

Here it is

For those who do not know the location of the Gosford School of Arts building.
Firstly a map:

And secondly a link to an old photograph. (Click to enlarge)

13 June 2008

Art Centre

The Gosford Times. December 23, 1898. "One of the institutions of Gosford of which the town and district can be justly proud is the School of Arts. In these days of learning when it is generally agreed brains and brawn and recreation and toil are factors as inescapable as they are indispensable to the attainment of the fullest and best results of life and labour, the town that cannot boast of a School of Arts is either a very insignificant place or extremely tardy in the march of progress. If Gosford is somewhat back in other respects, an allegation we won’t deny, it has certainly nothing to be ashamed of in its medium for disseminating light and information and providing honest and instructive recreation. In this respect, at least, it can vie with many towns of much greater pretensions. The Gosford School of Arts was established in 1888, and, as will be seen from the illustration, is rather an imposing structure. It is substantially built of brick and stone and with furniture etc. cost something like £1,500. The building comprises a first class library room, containing about 800 volumes; a reading room (free), which is supplied with all the latest papers and periodicals, chess and draught table etc; a large meeting room, at the disposal of the public at a very nominal charge; and chambers used by the Municipal Council and the Oddfellows Lodge. Then on the street level there is a spacious hall capable of seating about 250 people, fitted with a roomy stage, piano, scenery etc. etc. As showing the readiness of the committee to meet the growing needs of theatricals and the public generally we may say that during the last five or six years, the stage has been considerably enlarged and scenery and drop curtains etc. provided at a cost of about £60, so that it may now fairly lay claim to being one of the best equipped halls in the colony for the size and importance of the town. There are members on the committee of management today who have been connected with the institution continuously since its inception 10 years ago, and it speaks well for their interest and enthusiasm in its welfare and the management exercised by them, when we say that not withstanding the heavy expenses incurred in improvements to the hall, additions to the library and otherwise increasing the general utility of the institution, the debt has been reduced to £240. Although the School of Arts receives a fair amount of patronage, the membership roll if the library is not so large as might reasonably be expected, considering the advantages offered. In our advertising columns will be found the rates of subscription etc. and we trust the new year will bring an increased membership list and that long before another ten years the building will enjoy the position of being free from debt altogether."

What a shame that the building is now lost to the people of Gosford, and closed to the public. The possibility of restoring it to be a Centre for Contemporary Art has been raised with Debra Schleger, Marie Andrews and Belinda Neal. More action is planned.

15 May 2008

There are better things to do

A sense of despondency prevails, little improved by the perverse pleasure of tragic irony elicited by the ongoing urban renewal saga.

Now we are told that approval has been given to move the Kariong Post Office to a pub next to the planned High School at Mt. Penang, on the opposite side of the busy highway from the suburb of Kariong, against the wishes of the community, and in the neighbouring suburb of Somersby.

The licensee of the pub is the president of the Chamber of Commerce.

I'm sure its all for the best though. Its just a shame we can't find a new way of doing business. One that would allow some room for the ideas that are being being embraced elsewhere.

29 April 2008

Lets Get Serious

Let's Get Serious
Council's battle plan to clean up city
(Express Advocate 25th April)

Now that I have got your attention, if you want an interesting (but long) read pertinent to future development options for Gosford, have a look at the UN report on Creative Economies released this month.

I quote extracts from their publicity release, but the full document is worth looking at, particularly the reference to Charles Landry and his concept of Creative Cities.

The application of his ideas to an Australian city, Perth, are even more useful.

First the quote, then a letter sent to the Express Advocate in an attempt to get people to read about, and consider, positive approaches to change.

"A new development paradigm is emerging that links the economy and culture, embracing economic, cultural, technological and social aspects of development at both the macro and micro levels. Central to the new paradigm is the fact that creativity, knowledge and access to information are increasingly recognized as powerful engines driving economic growth and promoting development in a globalizing world.

The Creative Economy Report is the first to present the perspectives of the United Nations as a whole on this exciting new topic. It provides empirical evidence that the creative industries are among the most dynamic emerging sectors in world trade. It also shows that the interface among creativity, culture, economics and technology, as expressed in the ability to create and circulate intellectual capital, has the potential to generate income, jobs and export earnings while at the same time contributing to social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.

This Report addresses the challenge of assessing the creative economy with a view to informed policy-making by outlining the conceptual, institutional and policy framework in which this economy can flourish."

Now the letter to the editor, with apologies for the intemperate tone. Past letters that were reasonable and polite were not published, so a different tactic is being tried to get useful ideas out there. There is little evidence that local decision makers are aware of the strategies for urban renewal being successfully implemented in many cities around the world.

If you missed the alarming newspaper account of the Council meeting, you can check out what happened in the minutes on the Council website.

Keystone Council

"Judging from newspaper reports of the Law and Order debate at last weeks Council meeting, it would seem that Vicki Scott’s was the only voice of sanity when she called for inclusiveness and social responsibility, against a chorus baying for the blood of scapegoats – groups politically vulnerable and already victims of various social exclusions. One gets the impression too many are singing only from the Chamber of Commerce song book.
If Council wants to ‘run-out-of-town’ any people deemed to be creating unacceptable problems, an uncharitable person would think some of our civic leaders might not be eligible, as residents, for re-election.
But to be charitable, I’m sure they want the problems solved, and I suspect that the answers lie in a different way of thinking; “A new development paradigm (that) is emerging that links the economy and culture, embracing economic, cultural, technological and social aspects of development at both the macro and micro levels.” (UN Creative Economy Report, April 2008)

21 April 2008

The more things change

Nothing of great note has been passing my eyes or ears in the past few weeks, so postings have been sluggish.
In relation to planning for rejuvenation, since the Town For Sale notice and punitive reaction; the Advocates Nightmare on Mann Street and Knock Them Down campaign which followed, to apply some pressure to get things moving from a recurrent roundabout of planning followed by inaction, Gosford Council has acted:
To move responsibility to the State Government to take control of development and to introduce legislation to punish delinquent property owners, to establish a new group, the Gosford BID (Business Improvement District Association) to replace the CBD Promotions committee which replaced the CBD committee, and Bill Kerr has been appointed to manage development of the CBD by brokering relationships between the Council and the corporate sector (putting on permanent hold the development of the waterfront until this is accomplished)

So responsibility has been deflected, and new arrangements put in place with the intention of progressing matters. One hopes this will happen, and those of us who care for the future of Gosford wish them well, but there is nothing new in the model to takes into account the new economy and a broader conceptual understanding of 21st century urban theory. Its like trying to inject some extra horsepower into a 30 Series Nissan Cedric.

The ideas which could be useful are out there, but you can lead a horse to water …etc.
It seems difficult even to get the ‘horses’ interested in the trough in Gosford these days, let alone get getting them to drink.

Not so in the past.
From the Gosford Times, 9th December 1898.

“The horse trough recently erected at the town pump in Mann Street should prove a great convenience to the traveling public during the hot weather.”

05 April 2008

Gosford People

Past attempts to develop the Gosford region.

From the Gosford Times
4th March 1898
It is said that the meeting to be held at Ourimbah on Monday night next re the proposed park promises to be a rather “stormy” one. Much bitterness, uncalled for no doubt, has been engendered against certain members of the Progress Association for their alleged ‘shady’ actions in influencing the selection of a certain site. It is a great pity that local petty jealousies should intrude themselves at this early stage of the proceedings, for if perpetuated it will assuredly be the deathblow to the Park – a public boon that wellwishers have striven hard to secure. Let us hope that wiser council will prevail in future.
25th march 1898
Ald. Kibble produced a photograph of an improved night cart, which was offered for sale at 35 pounds, and in accordance with his notice at last meeting, moved that cess pit closets be abolished and the pan system adopted throughout the borough. Ald. Mason seconded. On the advice of other Aldermen, however, the motion was withdrawn pending the receipt of further information from boroughs where the pan system is in vogue.

[Alderman Kibble realized that cess pit toilets had disadvantages, particularly in the low lying, swampy, areas at the bottom of the Gosford ‘bowl’, and the potential value of his land holdings in this area could only be improved by a change to the sanitation system.]

Of course such self-interest might seem strange to us today.
But then, people have changed. Do we see people on the Central Coast resembling Australians from the 1880s?

Poster from 1885

23 March 2008

Geometry of Persuasion

While the mapping is in progress, and with regard to the comments on the Back Page about map forming around us rather than recording a reality, I can’t help but reflect on emerging patterns in our map to this point.
The unmistakable winner in the affection of the contributors is the bushland on Rumbalara and Presidents Hill, followed by the Broadwater, with hot spots at Kibble Park and the Swimming Pool. The town is circled by “red dot” positive feelings, i.e. the non-built environment, with a swathe of “blue negative dots” from the western entrance to the Gosford basin, through the stadium and the Leagues Club, Baker Street and parts of Mann Street.
Interestingly this follows the course of the obliterated Gosford Creek. Is this negativity some kind of karmic revenge for disregarding the natural energies of the place, one muses?
Contributors clearly liked being in Kibble Park, at least the grassy bit. No response to the hard-surfaced area to the west of Eliza Street. Emotional anaesthesia seems to be present there and other places seldom frequented such as the dead, blank wall, streetscapes surrounding the shopping centres.
We note that some people, like Miles Buffalo, who have developed independent visions, have tried to take the ‘Gosford Creek’ as a key element in their design. Miles has also completely removed the road from the waterfront – a great improvement, and made a garden/park as the centre piece.

Driving in from Erina Centre (teeming with Easter shoppers), to an almost deserted Gosford, I wondered if it might be better to make a virtue of necessity, and market Gosford as the most peaceful and tranquil town in NSW; a place of gardens, parks, animals, outdoor entertainment etc. Some attempts have already been made in this direction.

Our emotion mapping of Gosford project, and the dominance of natural and organic flows that emerge when people follow their psychogeographic journeys, makes an interesting comparison to the Gosford “Masterplan”.

Complaints in the past about the process of laying out the town on a square grid, that did not take into account natural landforms, seemingly has resulted in the process of laying out plans based on circles – centred, and given radii, so that the intersection of the circumference lines occur where it is convenient for some determined purpose.

In addition to “lines of desire", perhaps we need to introduce an allowance for ‘polydirectional perversity.'

21 March 2008

Mapping emotions

The "emotional" mapping of Gosford commenced at the Art inTent forum is ongoing.
Below is an image of interim results.

Instructions, which may or may not have been followed by contributers, were as follows –

Collective Virtual Dérive
Participate in an emotional mapping of Gosford

Contribute your feelings and impressions remembered from being at places, or walking, within the geographic area we call Gosford.

Place your ‘emotion’ dots on the map

Red Dots
Places that attract; have positive energy, are places where you feel comfortable, are in harmony with the natural environment and the shape and spirit of the land.

Blue Dots
Places that repel; have negative energy, which make you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, unwelcome and are discordant with the intrinsic nature of the place.

Places of the heart; where you feel a personal resonance with the land (where you would feel most at home with your poetic nature, your ‘inner artist’).

[Each envelope of dots provided contained 4 red and 4 blue dots, and one heart.]

12 February 2008

Ceci n'est pas Guernica

Ceci n'est pas Guernica

Word is being received at GT that the notice in the Express Advocate posted on the Back Page art blog is causing some annoyance. It seems that people who have been working hard to make improvements in the civic centre consider it too negative and that it does not acknowledge their efforts.

I am constantly being surprised and pleased to discover so many individuals passionately concerned about the current situation and wanting to do something about bringing new life to Gosford.

However, given their commitment, and the wealth of ideas they have formed, I am constantly surprised that things are still as they are. Perhaps we need to consider what is preventing the good ideas out there from being realised, as well as how the insights that citizens have can be brought into the public area without the frustration of feeling that consultation processes are a form of massaging compliance.
These same people, as well as those who have become cynical with time, have described Gosford in terms of the notice in the Express Advocate, which seems to me to be more strategically provocative than negative.

One cannot deny the validity of the state of affairs described, which is not to deny the work of those seeking to make improvements, or the positive attributes, not stated, which are the reason why many are working in their own ways to fulfill Gosford’s great potential.

Gosford’s main street is lined with Real Estate Agent’s offices. It is perhaps not surprising that the notice in the Advocate parodied the form of the property developer’s spiel.

Perhaps when Picasso painted ‘Guernica’ he should have depicted the “suitability for development” of house sites cleared by bombing.

19 January 2008

Past vision for Gosford's future.

The following appeared in the Gosford Times on the 11th. of February, 1898, and imagines Gosford five years into the future, 1903.

One hundred and ten years later we are still arguing about the waterfront and how to link it to the town.
In the writers vision, a place had been found for a library and a centre for the arts, 110 years later we are still waiting.
The wood blocked Mann Street suggests the pedestrian precincts now in vogue in post-mall urban planning, and would be worth considering in Mann Street 2008.
The leisurely walk through the Park to the town, alas, will remain a fantasy, as the Leagues Club and the Stadium (their effect on the area and their political clout) dominate any future for Gosford’s renovation.
The electric tram to the Penang solved the transport problems still faced by Mt Penang, which is still isolated and in greater confusion about its future.

February 1903.
On a lovely moonlit night in February 1903, the Gosford Pier was crowded with promenaders. It was a Saturday. The pier was a splendid modern structure and ran out, towards the middle of the Broadwater, a distance of about 500ft. The shore end was midway between the railway line and the point which I had remembered as the Park.

Gosford Wharf, c. 1885. (Copyright Gosford Library)
I was wondering how the amazing change had come about and was anxiously watching the faces of the people hoping to see one that I knew. I wanted to ask for the history of what had occurred, and as good luck would have it, I recognized a tall figure who was approaching me. It was the well-known manager of the bank. He was alone and noticed me as soon as I had caught his eye.
With a cordial shake of hands we greeted each other.
“I am heartily glad to see you again,” he said. “What do you think of us now?”
“I can hardly believe my own eyes,” I answered. “I am fortunate to have met you for I am full of questions. What was the start of all this wonder?”
“Deepening the Bar. Come along with me out of the crowd and I’ll tell you all about it.”
The strains of a first class band mingled with our voices and helped to make me realize that, wonderful as the story was, it was probable and not merely a dream.
“You see,” he began, “we realized that to make the place as popular as it deserved to be, we must attract the people here and must also give them something to do when we got them to come. Now water carriage is the cheapest of all – and the Bar stood in out way!”
He then went on to tell me of the trouble that the Bar had given them. But with the aid of engineering skill they conquered, and not only made a navigable Bar but dredged a wide channel, where necessary, all the way to the town. The material dredged up was utilized to fill in a sea wall from the railway bridge to the old wharf and thus a stretch of land was reclaimed which together with a portion of the flat was availed of to make a park with pavilions, and the covered in pier had been added as extra attraction. Boats of a speedy type were employed able to bring some 700 passengers at a time. Among so many who came for a breath of sea air and a pleasant outing were some who stayed longer next time.
The Railway Commissioners were awaked by all this to a welcome change of tactics. Fast through trains were put on at a reduced rate, which had proved a great success in every way.
“By the way,” asked my friend, “how did you come here?”
“I have only been here about half an hour; I was staying at Woy Woy and came here by launch.”
“Oh! well, you must come and see the town. I fancy that will surprise you more than ever!”
We walked leisurely along a trim Asphalt road which led away from the pier to the Park gates – and towards the town. I recognised the School of Arts, at least the front of it, for the building had been greatly added to at the back.
“We have a hall of our own now,” said my companion, when I asked him how ‘Rising Sun Lodge’ was getting on. “I fancy I did a prophetic thing in calling it ‘Rising Sun’ he continued.
The Masonic Hall and Club I was told was a fine building on the corner next to the library, where I knew a hotel used to stand.
Mann Street was a revelation! Wood blocked with splendid pavements all the way and lighted by electricity!
I was too amazed to say any more but listened eagerly to the account of all the improvements which had been made.
“You remember the old school church – well the site is now occupied by a new stone church, we used a good deal of the old building on the East side and the result is one of the best buildings in the Diocese.
On the way I noticed that the ‘Royal’ was a good deal improved and was doing well.
“Our old friend, Charley, is also in good fettle.” I was glad to hear this. The genial host of the ‘Fern Tree’ was sure to be doing well, I fancied, and fully merited a good sized slice of the good times.
Opposite the Railway Station I saw a large building which I heard was the ‘Gosford Metropole’ and the company that owned it was also the proprietors of the Pier.
An electric tram took passengers to the heights of the Penang – a source of a good deal of the traffic, as the climate was so splendid for convalescents.
Several furnished cottages had been built together with a Metropole on a smaller scale to the ‘Gosford’ and were at present sufficient. But the trade was growing larger and more accommodation would soon be needed.
It is needless to say that I was glad that prosperity had come to Gosford for I had always had a soft spot for the place.
I stayed a week and renewed old acquaintances. It is a pleasure to hear on every side tales of improvement and good times, and it was strange to think that it was all owing to subduing that old Bar which had seemed to us once such a stumbling block.
Bull stomps on rider.
Express Advocate 16th January, 2008.

Report of injuries to a bull rider at a Rodeo at Kanwal.

More so an everyday occurrence in Gosford in the past. Perhaps Gosford Council could keep bull riding in mind when asking for suggestions for “passive” activities for Kibble Park. Is a “passive” activity in this case an oxymoron?

Gosford Times, January, 1898
A bull said to be the property of Mr. C C Fagan, at present running loose about the town, is playing up with disastrous effects. In a fight at East Gosford this week it gored one young bull to death and seriously injured another. It is also alleged to have chased several children. Surely it is high time our civic authorities did something to protect the lives and property of the inhabitants from danger of this kind. No more convincing argument could be advanced in favour of the establishment of a pound.

Gosford Times Feb. 1998
Whilst a dead bullock was being removed from a truck at the local railway station on Wednesday night another bullock escaped and got clear of the station enclosure. The furious beast is still at large.

07 January 2008


A recent letter in the Express Advocate deplored the impunity with which foul language is used in public places these days. The writer might have been interested in this news in the Gosford Times, January 7th, 1898.

"At the local Court House on the 5th inst Alfred Newinson was fined 40s and 4s 10d costs, or 21 days gaol, for using obscene language at Wyong."

In Gosford, other forms of foulness were afoot.

"As typhoid had made its appearance in several outlying districts it behoves the Gosford Municipal Council to take precautions against an outbreak here by keeping the gutters clean and well disinfected. Residents should also see to the sanitary arrangements of their back-yards."

But for some relief was available - advertised in the same edition:

A valuable testimony

We the undersigned, wish to state to all suffering women that their case is not hopeless – they can be cured of many and all diseases which Dr, Coonley’s Specific Remedies are recommended to cure. We have used “Orange Lily”, and pronounce it the best remedy for those diseases peculiar to our sex that we have ever tried. Very truly, Mrs. F. Waters, Mrs. Robert Crooks, Ms. D. Oberlin, Mrs. Geo. Bailey.
Our month’s treatment 10s, post free, from 26 Imperial Arcade, Sydney.

01 January 2008

New Year Fortune Cookies

Following the Town for Sale post, and in view of the dominant Real Estate thinking and its physical presence in Gosford, here is a little reading for the holiday.

Artists are the primary producers of creative cultural capital, without artists there would be no secondary Creative Industries. It is now widely accepted that the knowledge based and creative industries will be the drivers of future economies, so it is essential to build that relationship between individual experimental art activities and Creative Enterprises into the planning of Gosford as a “living” city. Beijing’s Precinct 798 and Gaobeidian Art District, being examples of China’s astoundingly rapid embracing of the fact that it is the experimental artists that provide the social foundation and creative milieu that attracts talent, and upon which the creative industries depend. Contemporary Chinese artists are now the “hot items” in the international art market.

[Notes on the Creative Industries and the Creative Class –US statistics.
The Creative Class. A term Richard Florida originated to define the core force of economic growth of our society. Richard Florida is Professor of Business and Creativity at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.]

“This is the most important target audience in consumer marketing today, according to the Creative Class Group. Even though the Creative Class represents only a third of the workforce, they earn more than $2.1 trillion dollars - 50% of all wages and salaries in the United States. This total represents as much as the Manufacturing and service sectors combined.
The Creative Class controls nearly 70% - almost $500 billion - of the discretionary income (buying power) in the United States. This is more than double that of the manufacturing and service sectors combined. The Creative Class is expected to add more than 10 million jobs in the next decade.”

The Rise and Fall of Beijing’s Creative Business District
by Bert de Muynck
This article was published in Commercial Real Estate #4 April/May

The creative industries, which comprise of the arts, media, and design, are among the fastest growing economic sectors globally. The global market value of the creative cluster was estimated at more than 1 trillion U.S. dollars last year. Since Richard Florida published "The Rise of the Creative Class" (2002) it became a must-implement for civic policymakers, city planners, developers, artists, arts administrators and public officials. Recently the Chinese
government decided to invest more in the Creative Industries and its effect can be felt. Besides being a concept, the creative industries need a dynamic and stimulating urban and artistic environment from and in where they can operate. While the internationally renowned art
district 798, Dazhanzi area, is being transformed from a living art community into a economy driven displaying art district, thereby giving frictions between the artists and the owners of the area, the Seven Star Group, the Boloni Group – a Chinese-Italian consortium producing kitchens and furniture and headed by well known personality Cai Ming, the CEO of China’s number one total design company, Kebao & Boloni Kitchen & Bathroom Furniture - recently presented their plans for the development of a new art area. Called Gaobeidian Art District, it is located Beijing’s central Chang’An Avenue eastward beyond the fifth ring road. Bert de Muynck gives an overview of the rise and fall of the Creative Business District 798 and gives a first row overview of the ambitions brewing in the Gaobeidian area.


Between the third and fourth ring road in northeast Beijing, on the way to the airport, sits Factory 798, China’s biggest and internationally acclaimed art district. 50 years ago, Factory 798 was set up as an electronic production site, far away from the city center, where some of the key components of China’s first atomic bomb and man-made satellite where manufactured. All this labor was roofed under grandiose East German factory architecture. 798’s total ground
surface is 360,000 sq meters. In 2004 the area’s real estate was valued at an estimate of more than RMB1 billion, but at the same time the presence of galleries and institutions related with selling art more than doubled. The current value of 798 is unknown. At the end of
the 1980s the factory faced reality; production slowed down, and at the end of the 1990s a large number of buildings were left vacant.
This situation facilitated the Central Academy of Fine Arts housing their sculpture department in some of the empty buildings; they were an inexpensive and spacious temporary option. Soon after, the sculptors were joined by a group of independent artists who moved in after failing to create an artists’ village elsewhere, because of restrictions from Communist authorities. The communist leadership finally left them alone, but in the mean time their presence turned
the area into a successful art district. This led to bitter relations between the artists and the landowners, who through a series of events (no more leasing of space to artists and no renewals of their rent contracts) managed to move out the founders and opened the door
for business-driven (both Chinese as international) galleries, foundations and corporations. Now, Hang Rui, 798’s leading artist, has teamed up with Cai Ming to develop their dream of a Chinese artist community near Beijing’s Central Business District called the Gaobeidian Art District, while plans for 798 during the last year have swung between demolition, the creation of China’s Silicon Valley and recently, with government support, to preserve it a ‘cultural zone’.

Factory 798’s recent history is a struggle between the desires of the artist community and the realpolitik of the landlords, SSGC. This started in 2002 when artists and cultural organizations began to divide, rent out, and re-make the factory spaces, gradually developing them into galleries, art centers, artists' studios, design companies, restaurants, and bars. "798" became a cultural concept, influential on concepts of artists’ communities, urban culture and living space. At the same time, to make ends meet, buildings were rent of for business activities for Dior, Shell, Toyota and Omega. Bérenice Angremy, part of the team involved in developing the
Gaobeidian Area and director of Thinking Hands Co.,LTD, working for five years in 798, explains the evolution: “We can see three different phases. In the first phase, 2002-2005, we moved into a largely empty factory and organically turned it into an art district.
The first galleries entering here, had a mission; to fill the gap in Beijing’s creative society. 798 was from the start a space open to the public, realizing that one day it would be demolished. After the three year contract finished, we renewed it year by year with SSGC, our landlord. They did not recognize 798 as an art district. In the second phase, after 2005, SSGC stopped renting to foreigners and artists; this explains the big amount of second-hand rents. At that
time the international art world recognized 798, giving it fame. The third phase, summer 2006, starts when the Chaoyang District decided to preserve 798; making it into one of the ten pools of creativity for Beijing. They made a deal with Seven Stars Group off which we are not aware.” 798’s acclaimed transformation made SSGC eager to maximize the rental income paid by artists, galleries and other facilities. At the same time officials in Chaoyang District (where
798 is located) and some of Beijing's vice mayors preserved the area
as a "cultural zone" in harmony with plans for the 2008 Olympics. A nonbinding resolution to that effect was passed in the National People's Congress.

From living art community to display art community

The transformation from an experimental art community into a guided art business district, supported by foreign investment, is not necessarily bad, explains Dutch architect Neville Mars, part of the team involved in developing the Gaobeidian Area and chairman of the Dynamic City Foundation: “The 798 process is pretty standard, not only in China. Worldwide, art districts, when successful, move towards expensive rents and quick changes in tenants. The question
how that process occurs is another matter, if it becomes a vibrant essential part of the city, like SOHO in NY and London than it is positive. In 798 there is a weird contradiction between management and no-management. In the current situation the market and government try to be the guiding force to make it successful, dealing with something they have no idea about, while the people in the field feel it takes undesirable directions. When I moved into 798, we were part of a community. Today there is nobody left. There are no more art producers around, only art sellers.”

The preservation of 798 is questioned by both Neville Mars and Bérenice Angrémy on its capacity to keep the identity of the area, its raison-d’etre of being internationally acclaimed. Neville Mars expresses his doubts: “The so-called international status, which people say it already has, is being regarded differently by municipality and the Seven Stars Group whenever it convenes them, they want to push it forward as an international Olympic attraction,
not acknowledging the original qualities the foreigners came here for. It is being developed so much it looses its quality. For me, the most interesting question is, what is the program in area like this and what role does it play in the city?” Bérenice Angrémy formulates the question how to safeguard artistic quality as follows: “To have business, like cafes, is not a bad thing, we wanted this. I question the quality. If you open the door for resourceful galleries that are
not competitive in terms of quality, that is a problem, that is business for business. Now it is obvious our landlord wants to split the district in one art and one commercial section. There will be clothing stores here, but we don’t need that. If you allow the clothing market, you are dead, it is not an art district.”

The Gaobeidian Art District
With 798 under pressure, the East part of Beijing is taking the lead in becoming Beijing’s cultural hotspot, for which I propose the a new slant on the acronym CBD, this time as Creative Business District. Plans and investments are on the table to create Gaobeidian Art District, developed by Cai Ming and 798/Dashanzi figurehead Huang Rui. Cai Ming leased for 50 years a 22-hectacre site with old factories surrounded by green.

International vision for total solution design.
Cai Ming is a leading Chinese businessman in the field of high-end kitchen equipment and collaborated with Italy Boloni to found the Boloni Kitchen & Bathroom Furniture (Beijing) Co., Ltd. In 2005 Cai Ming introduced the integrated home equipment décor and design solution as a basic component of modern lifestyle. Cai Ming works with 70 designers in China, 19 in Italy and made RMB700 million in sales last year. Three years ago he bought a furniture factory in the Gaobeidian area, hoping to establish his own factory district. Soon after, the area was incorporated into the CBD (Central Business Distirct) and factory development was forbidden. This turned Cai Ming almost overnight into a developer: “At that time I had no experience
as a developer. Boloni is a life-style brand, interested in fashion, architecture, interior design,… from all over the world. We study how a luxury brand relates to life-style – in different countries and cultures. When the government changed the area’s function all this got intertwined, and I decided to develop this area for art, culture and creative industries.” Cai Ming is during the interview I conducted very clear about the potential of the location, the support from the local government (who praises him, tells he, for his international vision) and his confidence in the growth of Chinese culture: “I think our location is very important, it is not downtown, but on the fifth ring in the East. In the next years, all the real estate investment will come to this area. By cooperating with the government we can keep the price low, which is important in the art and creative industry, they can’t pay high rents. In the first 5 to 10 years we plan low-cost so to let galleries, artists and design companies enter; after this we will invest in high value commercial projects.” One third of the site is old factories, to be renovated
under the supervision of Huang Rui, two thirds will be planned from scratch, by Neville Mars. For the long term vision Cai Ming is advised by Bérenice Angremy. The first phase will turn the old factories into an artist village; the trigger to develop the other parts of the area.

The plan for GBD Art District involves six blocks on 450,000sq meters of land and includes: the Industrial Renewal Art District; the Flagship Store Street (international top brand stores); the New Scene of Qingming Shanghe Street (traditional culture); the Peach Blossom Island (bars and clubs); the Creative Land (avant garde art) and the Business District (high class hotel and conference center). This six block area is slated for completion in 2010.

Integrated development of art and market

Cai Ming counters his inexperience as a developer by focusing on the uniqueness of the project and the opportunity to bring Boloni, by the end of 2008, to the stock market: “It is very difficult and nobody knows how to manage a residential, commercial, art area; there is no
experience in the world. We are the company, along with experts, that is the most suitable to do this.” In the first two year he will invest 10 million euro, predicting an overall investment of 100 million euro. The initial investment is low; due to low renovation costs, providing artists low renting costs. The return on investment will come on longer terms, when the commercial and residential project in the GDB south area kick in: “I think the profit will be very high, because the cost for the place is not high, that is very important. But if we do the normal things like others, than there will be no profit. We want to be unique in the world; the only art and culture consuming area. There will be 20 million foreign visitors in Beijing and five times more Chinese visitors; with this mind we will be the only place to show the real China, the culture; from history to future. We will show its content; from within. If we have this, our business value will grow in another five years, this is also possible because our site is big enough.”

To make this project happen, Cai Ming works together with foreign experts like Neville Mars and Bérenice Angremy who see the potentiality of the new art district by intertwining the Chinese culture climate with the development of the Creative Industries in Beijing and the eastward expansion, beyond the CBD area, of the Beijing Metropolitan Area. As such GBD can become a pivotal point in Beijing’s urban, artistic and cultural expansion. Neville Mars
explains the challenge as follows: “We are building from scratch, which is almost against the nature of the art districts, where planners have very little influence. Our plan will have a buildable footprint of 60,000 square meters and the built floor area is 6 times this, with a FAR (floor area ratio) of 2 – creating semi-high density and semi-high density.”

Bérenice was contacted for her involvement in the re-orientation of 798-area, she formulates her long-term vision as follows: “Give priority to the art district, not only displaying art, but also living with art; that comes from our experience here. 798 was completely organic. Thinking about people that are around and not only the art that is displayed. Another key thing is the green land. We can give a quality of life to Beijing, coming from the art atmosphere, but also from the services you give.” Equally important as setting up the program for the area, she sees the involvement and commitment of the Cai Ming, the developer, to move the project
forward, without loosing the understanding of the business side of it: “We are very clear which part is business and which not, in 798 we are under the pressure of only money. They just want to grab what they can grab, here we have a person that came to us, I have this idea, this is a huge land, green and beautiful. That brings Beijing a new quality of life that involves art.”

The rapid speed of urban development characterizing the Chinese cities lead to considerable questions about the quality of life that is being created. In a society changing its culture at rapid pace and seeing the emergence of the Creative Industries, landowners and real-estate developers are faced with the question how to provide these groups with affordable spaces, understanding its potentiality to make profit on long terms and its need to create a sustainable environment where creativity and profit are not competing, but reinforcing and supporting each other; combining the best of both worlds. These two case-studies from Beijing, 798 as a struggle between ambitions, GDB as one expressing the ambition to find a harmonious development, could be seen as a model for what could happen in other Chinese cities; whether in art districts in Shanghai, Guangzhou or Chongqing. Incorporating the programs for the Creative Industries in the larger
context of urban development, like happens in the GBD area, poses new challenges for the relation between developers, clients, market, audience and artists. Possessing a great market value, being very vocal, having the ability to draw international attention and possessing a keen eye to develop from the bottom up successful urban environments, the creative industries seem to be ready, as illustrated in the case of GBD, to invest their talent in collaborating with real estate development in order to create profitable, livable, attractive and sustainable urban environments.