Friday, March 22, 2013


These farcical pieces have been inspired by the threat that has risen yet again, after two failures, to have a cableway built to World Heritage-listed Springbrook in the Hinterland of southeast Queensland, Australia. The senselessness of this concept can be best highlighted by considering a similar proposal for other World Heritage-listed sites that have a more tangible presence than the natural bio-diversity for which Springbrook is listed. Australians are blasé about ‘bush,’ seeing it as a no-man’s-land zone, a location appropriate for dumping trash and burning; or for the more sensitive, as a pretty retreat to use and enjoy - to develop. The outrage of this cableway proposal and its gross insensitivity may be better comprehended when transposed to other World Heritage contexts where it would never be contemplated.
For details on Springbrook see 


The French Minister for Culture and Ancient Monuments, Vie Travallottes, today announced that a new cableway was to be constructed at the World Heritage site of Chartres.
"This will be the most significant improvement at Chartres for centuries," he boasted. "The cableway will allow visitors to see the cathedral as it has never been seen by tourists before."
"It will become a part of the wonder of this marvellous place."

He opened a display that illustrates the concept.
The plan is to incorporate the cableway into the fabric of the cathedral space and its precinct. To emphasize the dramatic scale and character of the cathedral, the cableway will begin in a small square away from the cathedral.
"This will allow for a better management of the crowds and for property to be purchased for the visitor cenre and the control rooms," the Minister added.

Towers will be constructed at ever increasing heights over the thoroughfare leading to the cathedral, allowing the cable cars to rise as they move along the narrow lane into the cathedral square that will be entered on the western side.
Here the cableway will traverse the western doors famous for their grand sculptures at the height of the main door so that visitors will be at eye level with the central figure of Christ.

 An automatically sequenced Wi-Fi audio commentary will be coordinated with the movement of the cable car to progressively explain the whole cathedral and its intimate detail.
"This will make the cathedral accessible to many more people," the Minister pointed out.

From this dramatic beginning, the cableway will sweep out and around to the north, rising in height to display the wonder of the flying buttresses.
It was hoped that the cableway might be able to pass below these structures, but the technical problems have yet to be overcome.
The cableway will however pass directly through the centre of the two famous rose windows on the north and the south transept.

"This will expose these artworks to the visitors in the most dramatic manner possible," said Vie. "For years these windows have had to be looked at with an awkwardly cranked neck from below the central tower at floor level. It is impossible to see the detail without using any magnification, and then the whole is broken into unintelligible fragments. The cableway will solve this problem and provide a wonderful photo opportunity for visitors."

The plan is to remove the central panel of lead light in both rose windows so that the cableway can pass through and across the full width of the transept. The visitors will be able to be close to the vaulting and experience the full length of the nave as never before seen, as well as enjoy the glass detailing and its colours.

There has been some controversy about the removal of the lead lights. The Minister said that these panels were to be erected on permanent display in a nearby tourist information centre.
"Here they will be able to be studied in intimate detail rather than being distant dots."
It is planned to make these centre pieces the symbols for the promotion of Chartres.
"We will be making tee shirts, tee towels, tea cups, coasters, and the like with these images printed on them. These souvenirs will be sold to help the funding of the cableway, all for the glory of God."

"It will be a win-win situation," Vie said. "The full beauty of the rose windows will be able to be revealed to all for the very first time. Only with the cable way will tourists be able to come face to face with the full set of images in these great works of art and also enjoy the high details of this sacred place."
The Minister said that the mediaeval masons spent a lot of time in decorating the higher parts of this Gothic structure.
"It is all really just a waste of time if it cannot be seen clearly."
The cableway will exit through the centre of the southern rose window and then continue by dropping in height slowly as it passes along in front of the nearby homes and businesses in the adjacent lane.
"This will exhibit the unique context of this cathedral," said the Minister.

The terminus will be the visitor centre that will front both lanes and the nearby commercial square, and become the beginning and the end of this cableway.
Meals and drinks will be available as well as a complete restaurant service along with an interpretative display that will recreate the cathedral in part.
The cableway shop will also be in this terminal building that will be lined completely with an accurate three-dimensional photographic reproduction of the cathedral's interior.

The local heritage group said that its members were concerned.
"It will certainly spell the end of this cathedral as we know it"
The Minister noted that inventive projects like this one have always had their detractors, noting that "time will prove everyone but me wrong."
"We must continue to move forward rather than stagnate."

"Total care and attention will be given to every aspect of this construction project. It will use the latest technology to overcome some of the most challenging technical concerns. The cathedral will be better than ever. There will be no impacts. The world’s best practice will be used."
"Even the cableway towers will fit into the Gothic theme of this place," he noted.
Apparently these are to be designed by a leading architectural firm using the flying buttress as the model. Each will have a stone base with decorations carved to match those on the cathedral.
"It's a matter of showing some sensitivity to this place," he added.

"Context is important," said Vie.

see also:
This piece too has been inspired by the language our politicians like to use to justify even the worst of decisions: see 

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