Not just an exchange . . .

LETTER

I used to work at the telephone exchange building on the corner of Childers Road and Customhouse Street. This was designed to house telecommunication equipment which served this area’s needs. Over the years, it has been occupied by many people who serviced this equipment and worked on the manual switchboards.

Recently I have come to realise that this building, due to its structural design concept and external and internal configuration, tells a number of strong, meaningful stories.

It is a sort of metaphor for humankind’s struggle against the ephemeral nature of his or her life and the inevitability of his or her progress, towards the ultimate entropy of death. It also has tales of strong significance, such as birth and rebirth, as lead acid batteries were depleted and recharged in a seemingly endless cycle. The ebb and flow of first analogue signals and later digital pulse trains shows us the irresistible forward march of technological progress. All this underpinned by the life stories of those people that worked within, who ultimately and poignantly were but transient calls through the telephone exchange of life, as we know it.

The web-like cables from all over the city, terminating on the skeletal form of the main distributing frame, are analogous to the synaptic network of the human brain, wherein each individual, while dealing with the minutiae of everyday existence, can also come to terms with the deeper, ultimate meaning of his or her place in the ongoing flow of societal development.

Before my recent enlightenment, I had thought such buildings were just exchanges, libraries and administration/service centres, or even public toilets. How wrong can you be?

Ron Taylor

I used to work at the telephone exchange building on the corner of Childers Road and Customhouse Street. This was designed to house telecommunication equipment which served this area’s needs. Over the years, it has been occupied by many people who serviced this equipment and worked on the manual switchboards.

Recently I have come to realise that this building, due to its structural design concept and external and internal configuration, tells a number of strong, meaningful stories.

It is a sort of metaphor for humankind’s struggle against the ephemeral nature of his or her life and the inevitability of his or her progress, towards the ultimate entropy of death. It also has tales of strong significance, such as birth and rebirth, as lead acid batteries were depleted and recharged in a seemingly endless cycle. The ebb and flow of first analogue signals and later digital pulse trains shows us the irresistible forward march of technological progress. All this underpinned by the life stories of those people that worked within, who ultimately and poignantly were but transient calls through the telephone exchange of life, as we know it.

The web-like cables from all over the city, terminating on the skeletal form of the main distributing frame, are analogous to the synaptic network of the human brain, wherein each individual, while dealing with the minutiae of everyday existence, can also come to terms with the deeper, ultimate meaning of his or her place in the ongoing flow of societal development.

Before my recent enlightenment, I had thought such buildings were just exchanges, libraries and administration/service centres, or even public toilets. How wrong can you be?

Ron Taylor

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