Do our needs ‘need’ new Infrastructure?

Adelaide Fringe Parade Credit: Tony Virgo

Much infrastructure serves temporary needs and is under-utilised, sports stadia for example and many arts facilities. But when we explicitly recognise that so many of our needs are time bounded, we can do better. Here are two examples.

In six weeks Adelaide will host its 56th Festival Fringe. Scheduled already are 1305 shows.  This far exceeds the number of performing arts venues available, so other spaces are pressed into service including: several distilleries, the Adelaide airport, open air spaces such as the Botanic Gardens or the River Torrens, schools and colleges, sporting club rooms, hotels and cafes, shopping centres, churches and libraries, to name just some.

A festival is an explicit recognition of temporariness – and effective!  During the Festival thousands of people will go to events who wouldn’t normally set foot in a gallery or a theatre.  The ad hoc nature of the venue is often part of the attraction.

A temporary need doesn’t necessarily mean ‘once off’. I saw a laneway in Manila that, in the early morning, was filled with tables and chairs and provided breakfasts to workers. By 8 am, the tables and chairs had disappeared and the cooking equipment was packed away. The laneway became a packed car park. After 8 pm when all the cars and their owners had gone home, the tables and chairs came out again, this time with candles, and people gathered for conversation over a glass of something. Each of these three services were temporary, albeit continuing, and they shared the lane infrastructure.

Wanted: other examples of avoiding the need to build more infrastructure by recognising the temporary nature of needs?  (Or the converse!)

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