Empty Two-dollar shop, Darwin City Mall

This is a guest post by Darwin arts curator and criminal barrister Koulla Roussos.

Many friends have recently asked me why I am posting photographs of empty buildings in Darwin. It took me a little while to think and compose my response. Here it is.

The lessons of the Renaissance in history is one I often think about when reflecting on my city. One of the lessons generally is that legacy left behind when the wealthy, architects, artists and philosophers came together to rescue  beauty, truth and wisdom from the dark ages of history and actively sought to shape their present and future with the public good in mind.

Citizens turned to philosophy to nurture the beautiful and the good.

Empty Corner Shop, Mitchell Street, Darwin

Darwin is so far removed from that urban renaissance ideal.

Darwin is just the right size to get a global perspective on the zeitgeist cannibalising our time.

Empty Darwin Community Legal Service offices

During the renaissance powerful individuals believed that cities should be the focus promoting the good and commissioned lasting inspiring edifices- buildings, public squares, gardens and art works to adorn them.

I take photographs of these empty Darwin buildings to highlight the absence of the public good ideal shaping our city.

I compose around the renaissance concept of perspective to highlight that successful urbanism is not an accident.

Empty NAB Bank, Mitchell Street, Darwin

We are shaped by the buildings around us. It is not chance that makes a city look good.

Darwin is so far removed from this ideal it is the quintessential post historical frontier town masquerading as a fake city, the ugly city where the overwhelming ethos is one of indifférence, where the spectacle of private opulence thinly camouflages public squalor, squander and neglect.

Darwin is an excellent metaphor for the state of belligerency shaping our time.


You can see later posts from me on a similar theme from Geelong here and Darwin here.



Koulla Roussos, is Darwin born and based a criminal law barrister with an interest in art history. As an independent curator, she has managed a busy court and Royal Commission practice, as well as engaging local artists, developing cutting-edge exhibitions focusing on Darwin’s shifting urban identity. After securing the in -principle support of Janet Holmes a Court and the participation of the Utopia Batik artists, she is currently developing a commemorative exhibition to celebrate the impact of 1988 Batiks. She is also hatching a revitalisation plan for an important Darwin thoroughfare with local restauranteur and provocateur Jason Hanna. For more information visit: www.koullaroussos.com


Former site National Australia Bank, Mitchell street


Former site, Darwin Community Legal Centre, corner of Manton and McMinn Sts


Corner shop, Mitchell St, Larakiah


Empty 2dollar shop, Smith st Mall, Darwin