Brisbane Ferry Terminals Design Competition



The recent flood damage to ferry infrastructure provides an opportunity to re-assess the nature of the support infrastructure which was rudimentary. Since public transport along the river has become integral to the city and an identifier for Brisbane -an attribute of city life that sets us apart from other cities- the next phase in the evolution of its support infrastructure is justifiable and necessary.

Our entry in this “Ideas  Competition”  illustrates our main objective,  which is to highlight and enhance  the character of the system’s various terminals. A key finding which defines our proposal,  is  the fact  that each ferry landing location has its own unique contextual attributes and will need to handle differing intensities of passenger movement.  Therefore “adaptability” and “flexibility” are  essential to our proposed  strategy.   Our vision contemplates dynamic and movable  terminals where physical and cultural variances will manifest in unexpected and changing ways.

Additionally, much of the early infrastructure can be characterized by a lack of integration of buildings (architectural elements) and water-based infrastructure (engineering elements).  Achieving  a functional and safe design outcome, integrating architectural & engineering requirements, is also central to this proposal.

DESIGN OBJECTIVES  —  “…in case of flood – tow away…”

  • Build on the success of Brisbane’s water-born public transportation
  • Celebrate the role of the Brisbane River as an integral element of our urban fabric
  • Develop an adaptable facility
  • Design an instantly recognizable facility
  • Flood resilient
  • Meritorious design


  • Implementation: THE NO-LAND SOLUTION


  • Existing Conditions

              – Use of parkland for terminal building                                                             

              – Poor integration of structural & architectural elements

              – Inarticulate assembly of building components

              – Inundation of terminal building during floods

              – No flood resilience and limited durability

              – Serious safety issues during natural disasters

  • Proposed Configuration

             – No land-based construction other than entry portals & signage

             – Water-based terminal building & ferry landing moored to pylon system

             – Cohesive integration of components (terminal-drawbridge-landing)

             – Connection to shoreline via built-in drawbridges

             – Manoeuvrable terminal to be tugged away during floods or as 

                required fully flood resistant with increased durability

            – Improved operability as spares can be built


Archi Quote

Our time is so specialised that we have people who know more and more or less and less.

Alvar Aalto


In our city of Brisbane (Australia) we have just experienced the worst floods in 36 years. One outcome has been power outages which  has meant that traffic lights at many of our street intersections have not been working.

This has not resulted in any noticeable chaos !

In fact some observers have commented that traffic flows have been  better – drivers are far more alert & considerate and they are driving more cautiously.

Could it be that the standard traffic engineering model of ruling by PRIORITIZATION needs to be questioned, and an alternative strategy of FILTERING IN TURN be investigated ?

As always others elsewhere have done a lot of work on this and we merely need to observe their outcomes : check out this video of  a town in England that turned off its traffic lights

Another resource worth investigating is

Bundaberg Medical Centre Newspaper Article

New medical centre proposed

Mike Derry | 19th October 2010

BUNDABERG could be home to a new $8 million medical centre if a development company’s plan gains Bundaberg Regional Council approval.

The centre, proposed by developer Honeyford, would be built across the road from the Bundaberg Hospital.

Honeyford director Anthony McPhee, said the building could also include extras such as a shop, cafe or restaurant.

“We’re trying to make it quite an impressive building,” Mr McPhee said.

He said according to the regulation for the area, 80% of the development needed to be aimed at medical purposes.

He said the company already had a lot of interest from potential tenants for the building, with heads of agreement and leases already being discussed.

Tenants who had shown interest so far included a pathology company, a GP and a local pharmacy.

Three existing residential buildings on the site will be removed to make way for the development.

The building will be stage one of a planned two-stage development.

The second stage will be built on another three blocks of land facing on to Woongarra Street.

Mr McPhee said the second stage would probably be more of a mixed business site.

“We’re already talking to a large oncology company who are very interested in it,” he said.

Mr McPhee said the company was hoping to start construction of stage one as early as April next year.

“The council is really keen to see the area developed, so it’s progressing really well,” he said.

Mr McPhee said the cost of building the new development would be about $4 million for stage one, including the cost of the land.

Stage two would cost about the same.

“We’re hoping that in a best-case scenario, stage two goes up shortly after stage one,” he said.

Mr McPhee said a sign would be erected on the site this week calling for public submissions on the development before the application before council goes to the next stage.


Since this blog began we have been attempting to point out the disconnect between building height and development density.

Our qualitative assessment of two inner urban areas of Brisbane (Newstead & Petrie Bight) showed the diametrically opposed urban form characteristics of each area (podium/tower high-rise type vs. low-rise perimeter block form) and offered some value judgements on the relative merits of each type in terms of the actual environment created for residents.

See our post of 13 May 2010  – 

…Inner city Brisbane – a few comments on density & height…

and our further post of 27 July 2010  – 

 … Brisbane urban renewal – higher density or higher views…

Since then we have discovered a useful reinforcement of our judgement in a recent study which provides a quantitative assessment of  ten world cities undertaken to inform a Structure Plan being prepared for Southbank (Melbourne). Key outcomes include :


Go to this link to view the complete document which uses a comprehensive set of metrics to arrive at some interesting conclusions.

Here is a one page summary of the report.

It can also be viewed on-line at


Appealing candidate

Australia’s National Parliamentary Elections are happening this weekend. A local food outlet came up with a creative way of linking its product to the event.

Should Engineers be involved with Residential Master Planning?

A common problem today is the prevalence of the generic masterplan set out by engineers for new housing estates. These plans generally show a lack of empathy and knowledge of contemporary urban design philosophy, resulting in more of the wasteful and bland builders estates causing the loss of neighbourhood and the increase of urban sprawl. Lets analyze the typical plan received below:

Original masterplan by civil engineer

 1. The huge amount of roadway. This increases cost per Lot, reduces usable green space, causes stormwater run-off issues etc etc. 

2. House types laid out in rows typical of European row housing, with no thought about orientation and the Australian climate. 

3. The tiny yards and poor orientation, with houses overlooking each others private yard space. 

4. The public green space is surrounded by high garden walls allowing loitering. There is no attempt to relate to the green space or to design for security. Why turn your back on the park? 

Now have a look at the same site approached with the correct principles: 

Architectural Masterplan

1.  Reduced hard surface roadway. The roadway between the units is a permeable surface.
2. Exactly the same number of the same unit types (in fact they could be increased).
3. The majority of houses now have the correct orientation.
4. Yard space has sigbificantly increased but with less overlooking issues.
5. House clusters have a unique address (as opposed to long boring rows) and form a community.
6. Changing orientation of the houses is aesthetically pleasing.
7. Car garages are hidden from the main street front, allowing front yards, improved pedestrian access and improved visual security.
8. The green space is accessed from the road and is not a place that will encourage loitering.

Typical dwelling cluster