More than two dozen local speakers addressed a number of simple themes on the inner city, transport and TODs, regional cities and special uses urbanism such as the Brisbane Airport master plan, Commonwealth Games Village and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Malcolm Snow, former QUDAL President, now based in Victoria flew in and very ably acted as MC for the day. In the Super Forum plenary, State Government Architect Malcolm Middleton provided incisive reflections on the current state of urban design in Queensland.
Ten questions to be answered were: • What are the big urban issues facing Queensland in 2013 and beyond? • What are the barriers to finding and implementing long-term, sustainable solutions to those issues? • How well is current urban design practice in Queensland addressing the challenge of sustainability in all its forms? • Has the goal of sustainable urban development become mainstream or marginalized? • Is there a unique urbanism emerging for the South-East Region and if so, what are its defining characteristics? • Do we need a different urbanism to reinforce regional place identity and quality? • Is there a common DNA in the urban design response to the opportunities presented by urban growth and the threats posed by decline? • How successful have we really been since 2003 in realizing our (QUDAL) stated aspiration for an Agenda for Urban Quality in Queensland? • Are we in better shape (as place influencers/shapers) than we were a decade ago and if so, what is the proof? • If we were to choose a transformational trajectory – as opposed to a ‘steady as it goes’ mindset – in our practice of urban design in Queensland what would we need to start doing differently, who would be the key players, and how would they go about it?
Session 1: Inner City Urbanism
Exploring Sustainable Communities: Kelvin Grove Urban Village John Bryne is an urban designer/planner with a strong supporting background in architecture and social policy. He is the author of the radical Queensland CPTED Guidelines, he has recently co-edited Urban Voices celebrating Urban Design in Australia, and was chief salesman on the day.
The Kelvin Grove Urban Village was a radical development, conceived at the end of the 1990s. It received many awards from a broad range of professions and industry groups. A decade on from its opening, it is time to review it and ask whether it continues to be a relevant exemplar of best practice sustainable urban design and what if any lessons it has for the coming decades.
Herston Health Precinct Adam Davies is urban planner/designer, specialising in health, education and science precincts for the global design firm HASSELL. He is an urbanist who champions the value of good design for a sustainable future.
The proposition to develop the Herston Health Precinct as an outstanding centre of health innovation in Australia was based on the expressed desire of the Precinct partners to transform the physical form of the Precinct. Herston must be able to offer a place that will attract and retain exceptional talent. The quality of place, led through the socialisation of a range of internal and external spaces, will play a vital role. It will foster an atmosphere of innovation and creativity, whilst providing for the daily needs of one of Brisbane’s largest and most significant employment precincts. Importantly, the plan aims to encourage optimism that these changes can contribute to a sustainable, healthy, liveable and prosperous future.
The presentation outlined: • The role of city and precinct competitiveness in attracting and retaining talent, • The importance of exemplary leadership in establishing a clear direction and ambition for the Precinct, • The role of collaborative governance frameworks in representing stakeholder interests for the betterment of the whole precinct, • The importance of a rich mix of uses and activities that attracts and supports a critical mass of high value workers, • The value of a well-connected precinct that values interaction, socialisation and collaboration as an enabler for discovery and care, and • The drivers that established a need for a transformation and growth platform working towards an urbanised precinct form that effortlessly connects with its rich and evolving context.
Brisbane City Centre Master Plan James Tuma leads the design studio for Urbis in Brisbane and, over the past 18 years, has led a significant number of nationally and internationally recognised integrated development and master planning projects.
Following almost two years of background research, in mid-2012 Brisbane City Council embarked on the journey of preparing a new master plan for Brisbane’s heart. In the presentation, James Tuma and Brian Donovan co-presented their observations on the process, highlight the unique facets of the plan, and explored one of the key urban strategies around ‘buildings that breathe’. As the Master Plan is currently in draft form, this presentation was not so much about the content of the master plan but rather about the component parts that make it a distinctive approach to Inner City urbanism, and the importance of looking at the City as a system and not as a physical Master Plan on paper. Another important point made by the presenters was the critical fact of language to ensure the public understands.
Session 2 – Transport and TOD Urbanism
Cross River Rail and Gold Coast Rapid Transit Toby Lodge from HASSELL has been leading and working in collaborative teams for over fifteen years in the fields of urban renewal, transit orientated development and urban infill growth management.
Toby spoke about ‘Thinking beyond the ticket line’, the relationship between urbanism and major transport projects referring to Brisbane’s Cross River Rail and Gold Coast Rapid Transit as case studies. He explored some of the challenges for achieving more urbane infrastructure, and how urban design can facilitate the ‘city building’ opportunities these projects create. Holistic thinking within transport is necessary and part of city making.
Kallangular and Coomera Alex Cohn from Place Design Group is a qualified and experienced urban designer and architect. Alex developed his extensive range of design skills over 30 years of professional design practice and has been awarded nationally and internationally. Recent project experience includes Genesis master planned community, Coomera, Northshore inner-city urban renewal project at Hamiliton, and Northern Busway and Airport Link. The presentation focused around design thinking for TOD projects, that we have to understand that these projects will be there for many years to come and, during that time, change is a certainty and ‘unbelievable’ innovations will certainly challenge and change our living – think of robots entering our urban space.
The presentation aimed to question the premises and priorities with which we, as designers, form a vision and prepare for change.
Varsity and Woolloongabba TOD’s Cameron Davies of Deicke Richards is a respected urban designer and registered architect with a developed understanding of broad strategic urban design through to completed buildings and places.
Cameron talked about that if you think house lots are getting smaller, you should see the TOD’s. South East Queensland’s urban morphology is undergoing a shift, not a trend. Denser transit-oriented communities might just save us from the gluttony of McMansions but often the opportunities for change are small and constrained. The presentation looked at two compact TOD sites, why we need them, and how hard it can be to keep them in play.
Toowoomba, Townsville and Ipswich City Centre Master Plans James Tuma also talked about ‘Urbanism in the Regions: Ideas, Observations and Patterns from 10 Years of Master Planning’. There are more regional cities in Queensland in than in any other state of Australia. So, what are the challenges that regional cities face in creating urban places? James explored some of the common threads, unique challenges, and the key insights from this depth of experience.
Urbanism in the Torrid Zone Caroline Stalker is a Director of Architectus Brisbane. Her career over 25 years has demonstrated a consistent commitment to making engaging people places. Caroline has served on and chaired numerous awards juries in architecture and urban design, is an Honorary Life Fellow of the Urban Design Alliance of Queensland, and is also a member of The Queensland Board for Urban Places.
Aristotles 4th century BC climatic classification of the earth’s regions into ‘frigid temperate, and torrid’ zones would have defined Cairns and Townsville as uninhabitable. In the 21st century, these well and truly established regional cities are seeking ways to create a more sustainable urbanism which is more compact, less reliant on air-conditioned internal and car based lifestyles, and suited to the local climate and culture.
Recent and ongoing projects in these cities, particularly the Cairns City Centre Master Plan and James Cook University Discovery Rise, have offered Architectus the opportunity to posit solutions for both a Wet Tropical and Dry Tropical Urbanism which have been embraced by Cairns Regional Council and James Cook University.
The projects describe an urbanism where buildings are more like perforated shade screens than solid volumes, where streets and public spaces become cool, shaded Tropical Living Rooms which offer respite and invite occupation even when it’s very hot, and very wet. It’s a looser-fit urbanism than the walled urbanism of southern cities that emphasizes landscape integration with mega-shade trees and woven or layered shade to mark and create urban places – albeit differently in Wet vs Dry Tropical conditions.
Commonwealth Games Peter Edwards is an Architect, an accomplished and recognised Urbanist and a leading figure in this region’s Urban Design community. He is Director and co-founder of the new Architecture and Urban Design practice – Archipelago, President of the Urban Design Alliance Qld, a member of the Board for Urban Places and recently appointed to the Toowoomba Region Urban Design and Placemaking Panel.
Archipelago was commissioned by the 2018 Commonwealth Games Bid Company at the beginning of 2011 to design the Masterplan for the Athletes Village. The Masterplan draws on the many constraints of the site as opportunities for a successful place – for a strongly structured collection of connected uses robustly proposed within a pattern of people focused streets, plazas, places and parklands. The masterplan makes strong overtures to the legacy of the Games Village, including the subsequent structuring of the Health and Knowledge Precinct.
Most importantly the Masterplan looks to maximize synergy with the adjoining Hospital, University and co-located infrastructure by accommodating complimentary uses to connect and integrate across what was once thought of as boundaries to the site. It strives to complete the tripartite catalyst of Health, Knowledge and Industry through the delivery of a lifestyle focused, transit facilitated place for living, working and learning.
Brisbane Airport Property Development Master Plan Cathryn Chatburn is an enthusiastic and creative designer, and highly effective project manager with a diverse portfolio of project experience gained over 20 years of practice across the United Kingdom and Australia. She has worked on a variety of projects, for both public sector and private clients, including significant involvement in large-scale urban regeneration projects.
Cathryn discussed the following points and highlighted that the Master Plan is only the beginning.
• Creating platforms for collaboration
• Speaking in many professional tongues
• Looking beyond the next horizon
• The importance of engaging narratives • Delivering the ‘Integrated City’ • Making it happen – the delivery of ‘Spatial Business Plans’
Sunshine Coast University Hospital Dr Stephen Long is an Associate at Architectus and a senior design architect within the Sunshine Coast Architects joint venture on the Sunshine Coast University Hospital project. He was part of the bid team and is currently focussing on the design of the Skills and Academic Research Centre component of the project.
Stephen discussed the Sunshine Coast University Project which is located on a 20 hectare integrated health campus on a green field site at Kawana. The presentation described how the design team has responded to reference designs, international hospital typologies, the scale of the project and local qualities of place to create an urban environment that has a Sunshine Coast identity.