‘Monumentality’ is a Social Justice Essential—Brisbane architect, Russel Hall, speaks out at the Group of 17

Image from Russel Hall's website

by Dan O’Neill

On Wednesday the 3rd of September at 7pm, the next rambunctious though convivial meeting of the 17 Group in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End:

Well-known Brisbane architect Russel Hall on the need for monumentality… Is Brisbane too gutless to inspire its citizens as it builds QPACS and Museums with low ceilinged public spaces? The old Treasury Building wasn’t a gutless effort, with a much smaller and poorer population.

The original Regent was a magnificent picture palace.

Do we waste too much resources or paying public money for no gain? Is that the reason?

Here is Russell’s summary:

Monumentality is a Social Justice Essential

I have always been amazed by the Great Pyramid and Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

Are they examples of megalomaniacal excess or an essential need for an uplifted and proud participatory citizenry? Is Brisbane too gutless to inspire its citizens as it builds QPACS and Museums with low ceilinged public spaces?

The old Treasury Building wasn’t a gutless effort, with a much smaller and poorer population. The original Regent was a magnificent picture palace.

Do we waste too much resources or paying public money for no gain? Is that the reason?

The evolution and reinforcement of the nanny state comes at a huge cost. Monumental social services are established teeming with bureaucrats.

Laws breed more laws and sires multiple births of high cost lawyers all demanding splendid compensation.

City Plans, of a weight beyond an Olympic lifter, expand to abound in By Laws demanding obedience and conformity. Nothing is “as of right” except the banal. The first built neighbours’ values are righteous and statuted as yours. Building heights are controlled by limbo laws, ” How low can you go.”

The neighbours would be happy if you had to slither inside your house as they were there first and the view is theirs. Ironic when offspring are getting taller and taller each year and a 1910 workers dwelling had a floor to ceiling height of 10′ 0” and a high-rise ritzy pad now has 8′ 00” only.

The new high- rise buildings are tall but not monumental. Future 100% waste, as taller humans will not fit into these rat warrens. How come when you observe the efforts of our forebears there was a greater abundance of public monumentality for all citizenry to enjoy and behold– or detest and despise– but at least be moved by?

For biographical information on the interesting and colourful Russell Hall (you won’t regret it), consult this site: Brisbane architect Russel Hall at www.russellhallarchitects.com.au

You’ll probably want to know why Trotsky won’t be able to make it this time. Well, right on the heels of the Acapulco octogenarian tourist gig, he got showered with invitations and he’s now on the road in the U. S. of A. with his runaway hit dance The Trot, with backing group The Bukharin Five.

Once again he writes urging all Trotskyists to attend Russell’s talk, “despite any qualms about lingering anarchist residues from this sixties radical arkie”. (Leon, inveterate internationalist, not to say innate cosmopolitan, is nothing if not well informed, even about the history of the Brisbane left.)

He writes in a postscript that he is well over halfway through the Phenomenology. As to you, even if you’re not a Trotskyist, you’ll find this controversial talk unusually stimulating. Food, drink and after-talk questions from our usual caterers.

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