Brisbane Journal: Green Bridges project will add design-savvy water crossings to Australia’s sunsplashed city.

Night view of Kangaroo Point green bridge and Brisbane’s Central Business District (rendering courtesy Green Bridges Project/Brisbane City Council)

by Ron Bernthal

The Brisbane Australia City Council is building five new “green” bridges across the city which will make it even easier to get around the city on foot, bike or electric scooter, and more convenient to connect with already existing public transport. Thus the word “green” in this innovative building project.

The new bridges will link Kangaroo Point to the Brisbane Central Business District (CBD)Toowong to West EndSt Lucia to West End, as well as a new crossing at Breakfast Creek. The fifth bridge is in the development stage regarding location and construction timelines.

Day view of Kangaroo Point green bridge and Brisbane’s Central Business District (rendering courtesy Green Bridges Project/Brisbane City Council)

The Brisbane Council is prepared to deliver its Green Bridges Project to help stimulate the local economy and create jobs, partially to offset the business and social upheaval resulting from the coronavirus, but also to maintain the city’s reputation as a great place to live and visit.

The Council has committed the city’s largest ever investment in active transport with a $300 milion AUD ($230 million USD) commitment over the next four years to deliver the Kangaroo Point and Breakfast Creek green bridges, where construction is scheduled to begin in 2021 and complete in 2023. Three other bridges will follow.

View of Kangaroo Point green bridge (rendering courtesy Green Bridges Project/Brisbane City Council)

In total, the Council will invest up to $550 million AUD ($423 million USD) for its transformational plan to build the new green bridges, and will seek funding contributions from the state of Queensland and Australian governments. The new bridges will connect  the inner-city suburb of Kangaroo Point with Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens; Toowong to West End; St. Lucia to West End; and the newly designated crossing at Breakfast Creek. Specific alignments for the West End bridges will be determined after community discussions.

Viewing node at Kangaroo Point bridge (rendering Green Bridges Project/Brisbane City Council)

The Breakfast Creek bridge will connect Brisbane’s northern suburbs with the city’s Central Business District, and the Kangaroo green bridge concept, developed by Cox Architecture, Arup, and the Brisbane City council, the green bridges will include separate cycling and pedestrian lanes. The Kangaroo Point bridge is expected to accommodate 5,400 daily trips for cyclists and pedestrians, thus taking approximately 83,690 cars off the road annually.

Pedestrians and bikers on Breakfast Creek green bridge (rendering courtesy Green Bridges Project/Brisbane City Council)

Brisbane is the capital of the Australian state of Queensland, and is currently Australia’s fastest growing destination and the country’s third most populated city, with a population of about 2.4 million residents. Located along the Brisbane River, the city is known for its beautiful weather and, with 280 days of sunshine annually, its many outdoor activities. These include dozens of nearby beaches along the country’s Gold Coast, hundreds of outdoor cafes and restaurants, parks and athletic fields, and thousands of outdoor food markets.

Kankaroo Point Green Bridge (rendering courtesy Green Bridges Project/Brisbane City Council)

Although Brisbane is sometimes called “BrisVegas” because of its several casinos, other amenities are attracting visitors as well, including the Queensland Museum, a large downtown Performing Arts Center, and the Gallery of Modern Art. The local economy is primarilly based on the mining industry, agriculture and finance, with tourism contributing more than $3.3 billion AUD ($2.2 billion USD) to the city’s gross regional product. The state of Queensland is moving to expand future growth sectors that include healthcare, and scientific and technical services.

In a move to further improve Brisbane’s public transpotation, it was announced in 2020 that Arup will take the lead role in designing the new Brisbane Metro project, a ‘turn up and go’ rapid transit system that will transform public transport across the City. The consortium Brisbane Move (Arup and ACCIONA) will work on a new 13-mile high frequency electric bus network.

The Brisbane Metro will have 18 stations for its 60 trackless electric vehicles. (image Arup)

The Metro will use 60 trackless electric vehicles, each with a capacity of 150 passengers. There will be two routes, 18 stations, including 11 interchange stations connecting with suburban bus and train services. It is expected to begin operations in 2023.

Brisbane City Council says the project benefits include faster journey times for passengers, comfortable regular services, easy interchange and reduced congestion in the city with a better planned network. 

The project, which is co-funded by Brisbane City Council and the Australian Government, also includes delivering on the Adelaide Street Vision, a new tunnel under Adelaide Street that will minimise the impact on businesses, pedestrians, public transport users and trees, a new active transport connection at North Quay and an upgrade of Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct.

Victoria Bridge will become a ‘green’ bridge allowing for buses, pedestrians and cyclists only. (image Arup)

The work will see traffic removed from Victoria Bridge converting it into a ‘green’ bridge exclusively for buses, pedestrians and cyclists. This will see Victoria Bridge reduced to three lanes for bus and Metro services, providing a bi-directional bikeway and improved pedestrian path widths.

Brisbane Move will work with Brisbane City Council to deliver a shade solution across Victoria Bridge. The consortium is also committed to working with Bicycle User Groups to get the best cycling design outcomes on Melbourne Street.

Southbank Journal: US$1.5 billion mixed-use tower with a “green spine” proposed for Melbourne riverside neighborhood.

By Ron Bernthal

An Australia developer, Beulah International, has selected the Amsterdam-based UNStudio’s design proposal for a mixed-use tower in the Southbank area of Melbourne. The Australian firm Cox Architecture, is working with UNStudio on the project.

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Southbank Square view (image Norm Li)

Southbank, a busy commercial and residential district, is located on the south bank of the Yarra river, and is home to several of Melbourne’s iconic structures including the Malthouse theater, based in a restored brewery, and the state-of-the-art Melbourne Recital Centre which hosts classical concerts, and the sprawling Crown Casino complex, where clubs, food courts and designer shops attract both residentrs and tourists, Southbank’s riverside promenades feature many outdoor dining venues and cargo sheds housing craft-beer bars. 

The US$!.5 billion “Southbank by Beulah” project is attracting much attention because of its height, at 1,168 feet it will be the tallest tower in Australia, and because of its “Green Spine” of vertically networked platforms, terraces and verandas.

Green Spine will be two towers, twisting around one another in a cantilevered tangle of geometric glass and green garden terraces. This multifaceted spine is created by the splitting open of the potential single mass at the building’s core, thereby forming two separate high rise structures and causing them to “reveal the almost geological strata of their core layers as they rise above a light-filled canyon” explains UNStudio’s.

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View of the “Green Spine” (image Norm Li)

As a result of this design intervention, the tower’s that emerge on either side can enjoy excellent city views and the residences, offices and the hotel will benefit from increased daylight and access to outdoor spaces.

The orientation of the Green Spine further enables an extension of the public realm on the podium, the continuation of green onto the towers and facilitates orientation to the Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) and the Botanical Garden at the top of the towers.

“Green Spine showed work by a strong, multidisciplinary collaborative team that is a bold, yet thoroughly considered approach to creating a context driven landmark as an addition to Melbourne’s skyline,” said Adelene Teh, executive director for Beulah International. “In its details, the scheme displays a strong intent for well-considered public and private amenity, and at street level, the proposal displays qualities that will truly transform the public realm by eroding the hard edges that is prevalent in Southbank.”

The taller of the two towers will be entirely residential and reach a height of 1,168 feet. This tower will house a publicly accessible garden at its top. The lower tower will be home to a hotel and commercial space and top out at 827 feet.

Southbank panorama (image Norm Li)

In addition to being fully integrated within the existing Melbourne network of cultural, entertainment, leisure and commercial venues neaby, with its variety of programs and connectivities, the design proposes a mixed-use building that is a city in itself.

“In addition to providing the towers with a twisting, sculptural silhouette, the Green Spine is an architectural element that incorporates a multitude of functions in one fluid gesture,” said Ben van Berkel, a Dutch architect and founder and principal architect of UNStudio.  

The spine extends the Southbank Boulevard upwards and acts as the key organizational element of the building with respect to the building’s culture, landscape and sustainability. In addition to housing a variety of amenities, almost all building programs are linked to the Green Spine.

View from Southbank Boulevard (image Norm Li)

At ground level, the Spine directly engages with Southbank Boulevard by bringing people up and into the building. From the public park at the top of the podium, the Spine continues to entwine itself around the two towers, where it culminates at the top of the residential tower in ‘Future Gardens’.

The design proposal for Southbank by Beulah was “motivated by the concepts of togetherness joint ownership and open access for local residents and the wider communitymm,” according to UNStudio. Thus, the podium and its public rooftop park are reserved for public use. Within the podium a public marketplace, retail and entertainment spaces and a BMW experience center will be housed.

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View of Marketplace and Podium (image Norm Li)

The Marketplace entrance is an easily accessed open space for visitors and tower residents. The retail spaces have their own unique access to balconies and terraces, allowing shoppers to engage with an environment that differs from that of typical retail mall or street. The connection from ground level unfolds through stairs and platforms, leading visitors up along the retail and entertainment areas before merging into the public garden at the top of the podium.

Construction of the Southbank project is forecast to begin in early 2022, and is expected to take approximately five years to complete. Beulah International is hoping to announce the project’s hotel operator in 2021.