The Board has been established to champion high-quality urban design and to cultivate a more holistic approach to land use and infrastructure planning.
Although the Board is non-statutory and does not have any formal decision making role, it will provide general and project-specific advice on urban design, planning, architecture, landscape architecture, sustainability and built environment issues.
The membership is comprised of specialists from disciplines including architecture, urban design, planning, sustainability, social and cultural policy, economics and transport and is not solely Brisbane centric. Membership has also been drawn from regional Queensland, and interstate from Sydney and Melbourne.
Applicants numbered over 170 … a most impressive signal that the allied urban design professionals wanted to make a difference … a fact not unnoticed by the Premier who is also one of the three Ministers who will direct issues and projects to the Board for advice.
The inaugural membership under the chairmanship of the Queensland Government Architect is: Brit Andresen, Emma Appleton, Stewart Armstrong, Stephen Ashton, Gordon Beath, James Birell, Neil Cagney, Penelope Coombes, Julie Edwards, Juris Greste, Ed Haysom, Peter Hyland, Richard Kirk, John Mainwaring, Michael Rayner, Peter Richards, Robert Riddel, Noel Robinson, Malcolm Snow, Caroline Stalker, Shane Thompson, John Wardle, and Elizabeth Watson Brown.
Impediments to good urban outcomes
Members were canvassed soon after their appointment to comment on their own “take” on the “culprits”/impediments to achieving good urban outcomes. Not surprisingly the issues of procurement (especially of infrastructure), the lack of urban design awareness and understanding amongst clients and government (at all levels), and the ironic complexity of planning schemes that ultimately foster mediocre outcomes rather than exemplary design were among the most cited problems.
It is intended that this survey prompts the Board to prioritise the “problem” issues and then focus on the development of strategies to tackle some of these “repeat offenders”. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile the Board will have plenty to look at across Australia’s most regionalised mainland state where urban projects and infrastructure delivery are travelling at a cracking (and scary) pace. Take, for example: the Gold Coast Rapid Transit (Light Rail); the Griffith University Hospital and Knowledge Precinct (Gold Coast); the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct; the Townsville Mall redevelopment; hospital projects on the Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Cairns and the cross-river (underground) rail project, Brisbane.
All of these projects could be designed well and delivered well but the journey from design to delivery is through a minefield of hazards, compromises and disappointments. These projects will be part of the community’s assets (or liabilities) for years to come. Therefore they should be delivered with long life, community relevance and pride in mind.
It is the role of the Board for Urban Places to steadfastly champion these principles to all parties whose actions shape our towns and cities!