Having been asked to produce an initial Urban Design proposal for Sandy Bay High Street, its interesting to see that the City Of Hobart have agreed to remove the rather unfortunate Palm Trees that have been a feature of the Sandy Bay High Street for the last 25 or so years. Whilst the proposal to remove these rather poor specimens is understandable, its worth remembering that a sense of place can sometimes stem from the most unlikely sources, not always great, but none the less valid. For secondary centres and suburbs not to suffer from a rather bland homogeneous appearance, its sometimes worth embracing and celebrating what it is that makes the area stand out from other similar areas, even when it might be perceived as unfashionable, ugly or even down right embarrassing. The ability to mentally map townscape can after all take many forms and local pride can be sourced in often the most unexpected things.

As such, the intention to replace them with a series of the increasingly ubiquitous banner poles is considered to be rather a lost opportunity. Instead, the initial nbd-space work suggested the creation of simple but sculptural lighting poles shaped as new Palm Trees. Re-inventing but not losing the familiar Palm Tree form from the High Street. Keeping them as a talking point; a method of recognition and an aid in the re-enforcement of place making in a High Street that struggles at times to raise its head above the traffic flow. In other words, acknowledging, sharing and in so doing, owning the joke. And if you really wanted to go to town, make them capable of changing colour to suit special events and create delight.

Mood lighting and seating to extend the daily public life of the High Street.

You can read the Mercury’s take on the decision here. You can also read the original nbd-space test booklet produced for the City Of Hobart that suggested alterations to Sandy Bay High Street here