In July this design-conscious column warbled the praises of a brilliant, cool, stylish foot and cycle bridge just installed at Kingston Foreshore. It connects an ''island'' of the trendy development to the Canberra ''mainland'' just behind the Glassworks and the Old Bus Depot Markets.
We knew in our bones from the moment we set an excited foot on it that there was something special about this bridge. A subsequent interview at the time with designer Professor James Hayter confirmed some of its unique qualities. And now our initial sense of the specialness of what is surely Canberra's ''Coolest Bridge'' has just been confirmed with a prestigious award. The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects has given an award of excellence in landscape architecture (urban design) to Oxigen, the company Hayter works with, for the Kingston Foreshore master plan and bridge.
The judges for this state award gushed in praise of ''the design and delivery of a poetic piece of infrastructure such as the bridge - which references not only the history of the site but the rowing skulls that traverse the lake today. The client and the landscape architectural team that led these projects are congratulated for identifying and realising a transformational vision of the national capital. By resisting the protective suburban and pastoral typologies that have all too often been the default position and promoting the industrial heritage of the site, they have created a precinct that celebrates Canberra's variety and maturity as a city.''
Some of what that means in plainer English, Hayter told us on Monday, is that the jury likes the way the bridge echoes the way in which the Kingston place was once an industrial site. It was ''the perfect site'' Hayter thinks, for the use of Oxigen's preferred ''natural, honest materials'' like wood and stone and steel. He and Oxigen resisted any urge to ''dress up'' this once plain and pragmatic place and ''make it pretty''. And, yes, the bridge though poetic is not so much pretty as handsome and dashing.
And steely, too. As reported in July, when it came to thinking of ways of spanning the 28 metres of the sweet little artificial canal (on which real black swans sail to and fro), Oxigen put aside traditional ways and instead used a material called Corten steel. It is phenomenally strong and is what Hayter calls ''self-healing'', too, in that its exposed surfaces grow an attractively oxidised, orangey, rusty-looking ''skin''. And in the case of this bridge's part in the ''transformational vision'', a vital structural use of Corten was made that artfully imitates the shapes of aircraft wings and especially of the hulls of rowing skulls as used on the nearby swan-decorated lake.
Crane zooms in and captures rosella
To be tired of seeing crimson rosellas is to be tired of life, and here is a most unusual bird’s eye view of one of these beauteous fowls, in flight, just taken by a security camera mounted high on a crane at the Linq Apartments construction site in Belconnen.
Andrew Sarris, principal of the company behind the development, says that when he first saw the wondrous picture he thought it had to be something achieved with the artful deceptions of Photoshop.
But no, like everything published in this reputable column, the photograph is the whole truth.
Finns have fun like a duck to water
The tedium of Lake Burley Griffin and what might be done to make that dreary billabong more fun are recurring themes of this column.
Of course, all thinking Canberrans who trespass overseas come across exotic things they imagine would work well in our city, and we have just seen, on the Aura River at fun-loving Turku in Finland, a flotilla of six enormous artificial eider ducks.
The ducks are tethered (but with some freedom to bob and drift and look lifelike) in mid-river and in the middle of town. They are very popular with the locals, embraced at festival times and impart frivolity and joy to a part of town that might otherwise (because it is in the bailiwick of a gigantic, looming, castle-like cathedral that imparts a certain solemnity) be a bit grim.
''Hey, Ian!'' the ducks seemed to quack to me in the Finns' musical tongue. ''Don't you think something like us, six giant waterbirds native to the ACT, would work wonders on Lake Burley Griffin? Perhaps you could use your influential column to pass on that idea to your government? And why not a kind of cultural exchange which sees us brought to Canberra for an inspirational season?''
Enthralled, we promised to pass on these ideas, and here we are doing just that.
Meanwhile, with the new Canberra Airport terminal so severe, plain and characterless that travellers who use it feel like laboratory rats, here is a good idea from London's Heathrow Airport. In some of Heathrow's otherwise dispiriting corridors one comes across knockabout pianos decorated with the invitation, ''Play Me!'' Passing musicians of all levels of skill tickle the ivories, giving some jingle-jangle merriment to spots that would otherwise feel like zombie habitats. So how about it, Canberra Airport?