In a community with almost no history of, or interest in, good design concepts there was a small but vocal group aggrieved at proposals by a previous developer to develop areas of native forest and to develop locations close to the headland. Land development in this part of coastal Queensland has traditionally delivered a slash and burn, terrace and shape approach for the brick and tile, air-conditioned product. Seaspray’s design team commenced a (noncompulsory) community engagement process to present an alternative vision for the site.
This resulted is an almost completely new approach to urban development in this region and was initially greeted with suspicion and concern. The new vision proposed to remove all headland development, preserve all native bush areas and donate them to form an extension of the adjoining National Park. It was also proposed to establish design and planning restrictions to deliver high quality future development. These principles were proposed as statutory “Place Code” measures within the Local Planning Scheme. Design covenants attaching to the land were developed to promote a design culture that reflect optimal tropical design responses, significantly diminish dependence on air conditioning, and create a site specific architectural expression. Site masterplanning on the previously rural lands was preceded by an unusually thorough, on-the-ground engineering analysis by a walking GPS review. This resulted in an understanding that delivered significant, staged infrastructure investment, provided for storm-water harvesting for landscape reuse and an enhanced landscape approach from the outset.
Community infrastructure ahead of development
Most radically of all, the developers committed to build important community infrastructure ahead of the development of the majority of the lands to provide a focal point for the new community. These facilities included a Sport/ Recreation Club and Pool complex, a local cafe with a casual dining terrace, resort style accommodation, medical consulting rooms, a pharmacy and a developed landscape setting of high amenity. All this was in place when only a dozen or so houses were completed – most of which were commissioned from a panel of wellknown architectural practices. Opportunities were also given to a group of emerging architectural designers. The result is a project that has overcome initial scepticism, changed an anti-design mindset for many in the region and has sustained the investment values embedded in it, despite the sluggish market. The project has received numerous accolades from industry and professional sectors for design and execution excellence. The project is clearly well positioned for the long term, and vindicates the belief in good urban design at every level to present better places in which to live.