There's only one way to measure the success of a piece of POS:
ARE THE PUNTERS THERE?
See that P in POS?
It stands for "public".
No public, no success.
Despite the low maintenance.
Despite the low water use.
If no-one uses it, it's a failure.
An expensive failure.
And here in Perth, we've got lots of them.
And we keep building more of them.
Why is this happening?
Because the designers start from maintenance/water use considerations instead of from end-user considerations.
Here's the thing: people want to spend time in spaces like Bryant Park above. Yes, it has significant maintenance attached to it. Yes, it uses water. SO BE IT. Save water elsewhere. Reduce maintenance elsewhere. JUST NOT WHERE WE WANT TO GATHER! We want to see gardens in those spaces. We want to hear splashing fountains in those spaces. We want to sit under shady trees in those spaces. Out of the wind. Out of the sun. IT'S NOT THAT HARD. Look, even those dumb Noo Yawkers can do it! Sorry, New York, you're not dumb. You're very smart actually. Smarter than us anyway - if that's any recommendation.
Now I know people are going to say "but you have to send the right message to the punters". No, we don't. The punters are smarter than you think. They KNOW we have limited access to water. They KNOW we can't afford to have high maintenance landscapes everywhere. But they also understand that you can spoil yourself occasionally! It's a principle we exercise all the time. Like when we eat chocolate or go on a cruise or buy a big TV. We don't eat chocolate every day and we don't board a ship once a month and we don't put big TV's in every room of the house. We UNDERSTAND that we have to be discerning. But we sure as hell know that we can occasionally have those things and not beat ourselves up for being profligate and environmentally irresponsible! High-profile, CBD Public Open Space is our chance to "spoil ourselves". Look again at Bryant Park. This is the sort of space people want to gather in. It makes them feel special. They know it can't be on every corner, in every park, in every street. THAT WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL AND ENJOYABLE!
There's a vicious circle in the world of POS design. It's a circle that will continue to exist as long as people play not to lose instead of playing to win. Big difference. BIG difference. Think about this folks coz it will take one of you willing to risk everything to break that circle and put Perth on a different path. To date, none of you have been willing to do so. But here's the truth: you have to be ready to fail before you can succeed. You have to be prepared to risk your job and your reputation. When I worked in corporate-land I used to tell my people that you can't do a good job if you're afraid of losing your job. Ponder that. Someone has to break ranks. What's the worst that can happen? You get fired? Sounds like it would be a blessing in that case. You know, they say you shouldn't use CAPS when writing because it's considered "shouting". Well sometimes you gotta shout:
IF NO-ONE USES YOUR BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED PIECE OF POS WITH ITS LOW WATER USE AND LOW MAINTENANCE, IT'S A FAILURE. YOU, THE DESIGNER, HAVE FAILED. YOU, THE GATEKEEPER WHO ASSESSED THE DESIGN, HAVE FAILED.
It's like the genius who designs a car that has zero emissions and requires zero servicing. IF NO-ONE WANTS TO BUY ONE, ITS A FAILURE! This is such a self-evident principle I'm astonished we can't grasp it. "The market is always right" the smart investors say. Now they get it.
Righto, back to my motorbike...