Let's get on the 'shopping trolley'
Want to knock their socks off again? Why not cut a chunk off the iconic Golden Gate Bridge design, turn it upside down and suspend it over the River Derwent?
Throw in lots of glass. Put 172 rooms inside it, along with a 1,000-person conference facility and call it MoHo, the MONA Hotel. No, better still, call it HoMo.
Yair, that'd pull them in from all around the world, wouldn't it!
That'd keep them talking about Tasmania.
Brand Tasmania has never glimpsed a meeting of the MONA think tank, but we can't help speculating.
David Walsh and his amazing architects, Fender Katsalidis, have done it again – if only in concept terms so far.
What a sight HoMo would be from an approaching boat on the river!
How long would it take to become as familiar on the world stage as the Golden Gate Bridge itself, or the Statue of Liberty, or the Sydney Opera House?
HoMo would be painted the same burnished colour as the Golden Gate Bridge.
It would also house a 1,075-seat theatre, a three-level circular library and a spa treatment centre as part of a $300 million add-on to the museum complex up the river from Hobart.
Well, $300 million is the starting estimate.
HoMo is due to open by MONA’s 11th anniversary in January 2022.
Mr Walsh told a tourism industry lunch at MONA in July that the building had been designed to stand out visually in a way the original museum didn’t because it needed to tap into new markets.
“In the case of the museum, I didn’t want it to be a beacon,” he said.
“With a hotel, that’s different. It’s a marketing exercise. I want to market the city.
"We decided to make that declaration and paint our version of the Golden Gate Bridge international orange for the same reason. The decision was made with the Golden Gate Bridge to make it a beacon. That’s what I want to do.”
At present, MONA draws about 260,000 visitors a year to Tasmania and that number could be multiplied by tapping into the business and conference markets the museum and entertainment complex has not yet been able to reach.
HoMo's hotel rooms will be able to sit above the theatre without suffering reverberations because the top seven floors will be suspended from a giant truss and not touch the lower floors.
Mr Walsh explained: “You can’t usually build a theatre inside a building because when it shakes, the whole building shakes.
“But because this is a bridge, the top seven floors are suspended from above, and the bottom three floors are built from below.
"They’re not connected to each other – there’s no [noise] transmission. It’s the best idea anyone ever had. And it wasn’t mine!”
Take a bow, architectural leader Nonda Katsalidis.
The plan has yet to be submitted to the Glenorchy City Council for planning permission and is sited close to a wastewater treatment plant that stymied earlier plans by Mr Walsh to add a neighbouring caravan park to MONA.
Mr Walsh said his solution would be to re-engineer the council's plant, so that it could be green enough to produce potable water that would supply the hotel.
The State Government is watching and could bypass the council if necessary, by declaring HoMo a project of state significance.
HoMo will create 300 jobs during three years of construction and 120 on-going jobs once opened.
MONA's existing ferry terminal will be integrated with the hotel entry, so visitors can go from boat to room.
A second Mona Roma ferry is being commissioned in readiness for the hotel's opening.
HoMo and its associated works are separate from a project underway at MONA to build an extension to house four purpose-built installations by American artist-in-light James Turrell, as well as other works.
Mr Walsh also told luncheon guests of his plans to open Monaco, a high-limit, private, members-only, poker machine-free casino that would not be open to Tasmanians.
Monaco depends on politically tricky State licensing decisions.
Mr Walsh also has plans for a 17-room, $2,000-a-night boutique hotel at Marion Bay on the east coast.
“It's very simple really; we like building stuff," Mr Walsh told his guests.
"So far it has gone pretty well for us, and hopefully also for our communities.
“This time, some may think it's gotten a little out of hand – the excavation alone is more than four times the size of that for the museum – but we seem to have some support.
"The plans have turned out pretty well, and we can't rest on our laurels forever. The heart of MONA is chance.”
Social media critics were quick to suggest the HoMo design resembled a shopping trolley.
Like the concept itself, that is likely to have on-going traction.
Image courtesy of MONA
29 July 2017, Edition 186