When I first lived in Canberra in the 1970s Kingston was far from being a trendy suburb. Created in the 1920s to house workers helping to construct the national capital, its built environment comprised mainly workers cottages and industrial sites such as the powerhouse. Now, like so suburbs in Australian capital cities, especially those that offer water frontages, it’s being gentrified. The result is an eclectic mix of residential, entertainment, lifestyle and cultural venues modish enough to make it into the New York Times’ popular 36 Hours In…. travel column.
Public art in open spaces enhances the modish apartments and lifestyle precinct of Kingston.
Central to this transformation is the rebirth of the old Kingston Powerhouse, Canberra’s oldest public building, as the Canberra Glassworks, the nation’s biggest dedicated glass studio and a home for the ACT’s glass artists. The metamorphosis was done on ecologically sustainable lines, retaining the old building’s “bones” and superstructure, and creating a space not only to encourage the imagination of artists but to allow the public to watch them at work and learn about the glass making process. The in-house Glassworks’ shop presents a ready-made retail outlet.
Tools of the trade.
Samples of finishes.
The metamorphosis from old powerhouse to glassworks has retained the buildings “bones”.
The exquisite end products are for sale at the Glassworks’ retail store.
The Glassworks sits as part of a broader arts precinct incorporating the Old Bus Depot Markets – another old building rejuvenated – and a print studio and gallery. As an example of what people power can achieve a favourite local burger joint, Brodburger, has been integrated into the precinct. The former street vendor of specialty hamburgers, who operated from a red caravan in nearby streets, had developed such a following that when the red tape brigade moved in and moved them on the people’s voice ensured them a venue at the sought-after location.
People power triumphs through Brodburger.