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The birth of our multi billion dollar new Royal Adelaide Hospital in the west end of Adelaide has been the cause of much dismay - and we're not talking the problems highlighted by advocates of change in the health system here. The wailing and gnashing of teeth from east end traders about lost business has been audible even in Parliament House, despite a report proving the traders wrong. Nevertheless, our leaders decided to do something about it.
The state government has increasingly relied on its Department for Parties and Demolition (Renewal SA) to activate places in Adelaide, so they have been told to make the east end buzz. In their corporate speak: Renewal SA will be responsible for delivering a curated program of place activation across the Royal Adelaide site, bringing new life to the East End.
Adelaide Riverbank Sign Describing The Hive Light Show
The Hive is the first effort at 'activating' the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site. It's described as "a kaleidoscope of art, light and technology, celebrating community connections and change...Designed by amigo and amigo, the interactivity and social story of The Hive is inspired by the bee hive".
Visitors are invited to "move around The Hive to illuminate the light globes in different colours. The more people involved and the closer you get to the globes, the more vibrant the colours and animation will become".
Floodlighting at North Terrace Tram Extension Roadworks
Arriving at The Hive on opening night, the twilight dusk was heavy with dark cloud and threatened rain. The charged atmosphere may have influenced my mood with a pregnant preconception, but reality soon came into play. Bemused bus travellers watched bewildered as I snapped photos of the light show behind them. None had noticed it previously, and few seemed interested after they did.
Unfortunately Renewal SA don't seem to have allowed for the new tram line works on North Terrace when planning The Hive. Huge banks of floodlights turned night into day, overshadowing the visual effects of the light show. A constant loud groaning and clanking of heavy excavation equipment only meters away discouraged me from introspection. My attention was distracted by the snail-like passage of honking buses and cars crammed into only one lane.
Adelaide's Berlin Wall, Brought to You By Renewal SA
I wandered away from the Allied Health Building, further east along North Terrace. The Bice Building was also lit with a changing kaleidoscope of colour, visible from outside the fence. Further along I encountered the largest barricade I have seen since the Berlin Wall came down. The true purpose of this security fence was artlessly camouflaged with colour and advertising for Renewal SA. It seems the reconstructed real estate agents who staff the Department for Parties haven't yet given up on their zeal for self promotion.
Returning to roam The Hive at the Allied Health Building, I was quickly accosted by a breathless and beefy security guard who invited me to leave immediately. Even mentioning that I was from the media had no effect, so I can't confirm the claim that the globes will light in your proximity. Touching one had no effect that I saw.
The Light Show at the Heritage Listed Bice Building
As an attempt at activating the night time economy of the east end, The Hive is underwhelming. The light show at the old Mars Bar Adelaide would pull more punters than this. One really has to wonder how much the closure of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital has affected the east end of the CBD at night anyway - very few nurses or patients would be able to pop out for a beer or a bite to eat at one of the alfresco restaurants.