Crossing a river on a pedal boat, walking through a talking bridge, finding your way past a garden with a serene lake. These aren't random musings. These are some of the things you encounter on your way to a cricket stadium in Australia.
To get to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, you have to walk past the William Barrak Bridge, which has soundscape, a sonic corridor of human voices triggered by the presence of pedestrians. Each individual voice contributes a distinctive singing style with specific melodic and rhythmic ornamentation. In Perth, you walk through a tranquil garden to reach the not-so-tranquil setting of the WACA. But, when it comes to scenic beauty, can anything top Adelaide?
You stroll past Parliament House, the Skycity Casino to your left, with the floodlights of the Adelaide Oval looming ahead. You scale the steps of Her Majesty's Theatre, Aborigine art adorning the neighbouring wall. Just then you realise that a water body, River Torrens, stands between you and the ground.
There are two options. You can either walk to the right head towards King Williams Road Bridge or hop on to a two-seater pedal boat and for $5 cycle to the other side, a pleasant ride in the tranquil waters as two black swans swim past with five cygnets. At the other end, red-brick walls outside the Adelaide Oval greet you. You walk inside and the first sight is that of St Peter's Cathedral behind the Chappell Stands, with canopies on top of the stands.
The Oval has the right mix of open space and built form. Even if much of the built form is new, it retains a touch of the old with even the new Western Stands erected in red-brick walls like the ones outside the main gate. The non-continuous, varying height curved roof of the new stands is a design reference to the canopy roofs of the Chappell Stands and the curved ridge and gables of the Bradman Stand.
The grass banks on the north and its opposite end form the open space. Albeit one that is rapidly eroding and could be completely gone by the time the Oval is refurbished before India's next tour Down Under.
The redevelopment is being financed by the local government, specifically at the request of the AFL and the Football Federation of Australia, with an aim to use the stadium for footy and soccer matches.