Against the backdrop of the urban Brisbane City skyline and the iconic Story Bridge lies the historic Howard Smith Wharves parkland. This significant site within Brisbane was inundated by the recent January floods, showing the public that there needs to be something done to improve the resilience of the ‘fluid terrain’ (Mathur and Da Cunha, 2006), the space that cannot clearly be defined as either ‘land’ or ‘sea’ along our River.
The design for Howard Smith Wharves uses a resilient combination of native, flood tolerant grasses and tough concrete pathways and furniture. The pathways are structured to reflect the shadows of the Story Bridge above and throughout the site runs a graceful ‘red ribbon’ signifying the fluidity of the area. The ribbon is also used as a retaining wall in places to terrace the land behind, slightly raising it to bring it above the level of the recent floods. Terracing this area allows an opportunity to mass plant tolerant native grasses as a feature to the park and also prevents people from wandering to the base of the cliffs, which are unstable in parts.
This design proposes ideas and begins conversations for the future of our flood affected areas. All areas along the Brisbane River and stormwater flood affected areas need to be designed specifically to suit their unique environs, we need to take into account how previous natural disasters affected an area and design for resilience in the future.
Mathur. A, Da Cunha. D (2006) Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster: Lessons From Hurricane Katrina.