This article was originally published by the Mercury on 30 June 2023 and was supplied by and reprinted with the author’s permission.


Perhaps we should spare a little sympathy for Premier Rockliff. Who among us has never painted themselves into a corner – whether physical or metaphoric?  

Most of us can easily wriggle out of those fleeting situations, but poor Jeremy has promised Victoria’s AFL – and his Tasmanian constituents – a Uniting Edifice to Football but has unwittingly created a Berlin Wall of division.

So far, neither the political nor the economic cases have been satisfactorily prosecuted. The opacity and subterfuge of the political process leaves much to be desired, and the economic case has completely ignored the burden such a large civil spend will place upon future generations of Tasmanians. If these two issues were to be subjected to the same degree of forensic analysis as used in the creation of the confronting Bence & Mulcahy rendering, I doubt we’d be arguing quite so vehemently about an architectural drawing. But that might not suit the Premier as he seems to be doing a lot of whistleblowing to denigrate others while dissembling and waffling his way through PAC interrogations.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff has labelled the image a “scare tactic” and has revealed the “real” stadium outline from the waterfront.

“Don’t be fooled by the blockers, as dodgy as some of their efforts may be,” Mr Rockliff posted to his social media.”

There are many issues surrounding the stadium debacle that can be described as ‘dodgy’, but the Bence & Mulcahy rendering of the visual impact of the structure on Hobart’s waterfront heritage is not one of them. 

To be fair, the Premier is not alone in his inability to interpret architectural drawings and renderings. In my years of working with clients, I’ve often had to walk them through the design process and decode plans. Translating two dimensions into a three-dimensional image requires a degree of spatial intelligence we don’t all possess. 

If that’s the case for Mr Rockliff, it’s beholden upon him to actually read the explanation that accompanied the rendering which outlined quite clearly how the image was created and the criteria upon which it was based. Instead, he insisted his architects publish his own interpretation of how his “not designed yet” structure would look, taken from a completely different vantage point and eye-level. We designers know the reason he’d not wanted this most commonly viewed aspect of the shoehorned monument to be revealed, and it’s interesting to note that his architects resisted any accreditation for that particular overlay.

Yes, Premier, paddling around in a kayak in Constitution Dock would obscure your view of the stadium behind several rows of pontoons and buildings but that’s NOT the view pedestrians on Franklin Wharf and associated docks & piers will have.

I have done my own survey, walking around the area, taking photographs, checking height data, calculating sight lines and referring to maps and satellite imagery. From this research I can say that the Premier’s alternative image misses the mark in a number of ways. Any photograph from the south can take the 33mtr. Gasworks chimney to the west of Davey Street as a reference for the southern façade of the proposed stadium complex on Evans Street. The stadium height is 40mtrs. so any rendering needs to show the (unsupported) ‘roof’ at least 7mtrs. higher than this datum (see accompanying height survey).

The Premier also questioned the roof massing in the Bence Mulcahy rendering. The question we need to ask is, if not this truss-style roof support, what will be used . . . skyhooks?  

Mr Mulcahy’s accompanying text provided sufficient explanation for why they added the steel superstructure to the roof. There was also adequate explanation for why the building needed to front Evans Street simply to fit on the site. Such a frontage places it very close to the Sullivan’s Cove Apartments and will have severe implications for over-shadowing those apartments and the popular Morris-Nunn-designed IXL courtyard in the middle of the complex, both of which currently rely on passive solar input for warmth in Winter.

Rather than being designed to shock which some have alleged, this drawing has been carefully constructed, taking into account sight lines from nearby buildings and the dimensions supplied by the government.

If the Bence Mulcahy rendering of the stadium is shocking, it’s because the stadium itself is shocking: a shocking waste of money; a shocking waste of space; a shocking loss of opportunity; a shocking trampling of heritage values, and a careless subjugation of Hobart’s maritime character.

No, Hobart is not Sydney or Melbourne, and that difference is paramount in most resident’s minds. Tasmanians and newcomers have settled here – and visitors are attracted here – mainly due to our town being the very antithesis of a mainland metropolis, and this unicity is most evident within the precious hand-hewn vestiges of the Salamanca and Hunter Street precincts.  Hobart can, and will grow, but the majority of Tasmanians want our beautiful, harboured settlement to retain the remnants of its colonial quaintness and, like us, celebrate the importance of a human-scale built environment.

Mark Pooley
Battery Point, Hobart