Designer’s $1.2 billion ‘echidna-like’ plan is drawing comment, but will it ever be built?

Perth-based building designer Shane O’Riley has spent five years working on an unsolicited vision for an international concert hall to be built as part of the Elizabeth Quay riverfront development. The radical design has drawn a range of comment from the public with some comparing it to a spiny fish and others to an echidna.

O’Riley released his designs yesterday, apparently as a means of showcasing his skills, highlighting what he believes is “a wasted opportunity” to do something with the landscape under current plans. “I knew there was a parcel of land earmarked for Elizabeth Quay before the public knew, and I researched the Indigenous heritage of the area,” he told the ABC. “The underlying brief was very simple. It needed to compete as an icon against concert halls and opera houses around the world, not just Sydney.”

The design is a metaphor for “what it feels like to be sculpturally inside music, without the experience of the sound,” says O’Riley. “The living embodiment is you being inside a musical instrument, a sculpture, something that is dynamic and inspirational”.

Criticising the planned $4 billion spend on Elizabeth Quay and the new sports complex O’Riley took a pop at the politicians. “No-one cares about making Perth an international city of the future, it’s all about developers,” he said. “I am very concerned that, on the foreshore, there is a mishmash of architecture that has the potential to give us slums of the future and degrade the image of Perth. We end up spending good money after bad because no-one is pre-planning the grand vision because I think planning is based around political terms, not visions. It’s always about our sporting prowess, not our cultural prowess, and we need to grow up.”

The project would cost $1.2 billion and O’Riley says that he would be prepared to work long, hard hours to bring it to fruition. However, as an unsolicited project it seems highly unlikely that it will get the green light from the politicians.

When asked about the design on 720 Mornings, Premier Colin Barnett expressed his approval from an aesthetic perspective but declared that  it was unlikely to receive backing from the State Government. “We haven’t got a lazy billion lying around,” he told Geoff Hutchison. “That site at Elizabeth Quay is reserved for an Aboriginal art and cultural area… it’s not something that is going to happen soon. When that is ultimately developed I hope it would be a spectacular building.”

Meanwile, Limelight readers have been keen to have their say with comment ranging from harshly critical to whimsically bemused. Our favourite, though, is OJ Crofts who sent us his interesting take on edible architecture…