A new pier is intensively engineered to cope with rising water levels and storm surge Photo: Christopher Frederick Jones

By Lynne Blundell

FAVOURITES: 5 November 2009 – The Southport Broadwater Parklands project may well be a blueprint for adaptive planning solutions to combat sea level rise and storm surge on our coastlines. It involved some creative methods, including raising ground levels in some places by two metres.

With its spectacular Nerang River frontage and proximity to the Southport CBD, Southport Broadwater Parklands has long been a popular community gathering place on the Gold Coast. It is the location for many Gold Coast major public events.

The Gold Coast City Council applied for funding through the Queensland 150th Legacy Infrastructure program (Q150 LIP) for master planning works and the first stage of construction.

Following the allocation of funding from the Queensland Government, matched by the Council, EDAW (AECOM) was commissioned to develop the master plan for the Parklands, through to the delivery of the first stage of construction.

Stage One is now complete and includes a water play landscape, event lawns, bathing boxes, barbecue shelters and play equipment, a central community pavilion, extensive streetscapes, an extended pier, a constructed wetland and bio-retention basins throughout the car parking and parklands.

Damian Thompson – the park makes use of the closed loop philosophy, aiming to be self-sufficient

Damian Thompson, principal of design with AECOM, told The Fifth Estate that, at its core, the plan for the park takes an integrated approach to coastal issues.

“We have made use of the closed loop philosophy in this plan, which we also applied in our intern workshops. This means the site is essentially self-sufficient – it is a productive space that produces its own power and provides greater connectivity to the urban centre – in this case Southport CBD,” says Thompson.

AECOM’s response to the Broadwater’s natural environment reflects a commitment to ecosystem preservation within the parkland that is in keeping with the Gold Coast City Council’s stated commitment to sustainable design and development.

Wetlands in the park provide natural filtration for stormwater runoff   Photo: Christopher Frederick Jones

Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic panels, will provide energy to the parkland, with a view to self-sufficiency upon completion of all stages of the project. Water filtration features such as wetlands and a mangrove plantation will treat stormwater and upstream catchments, which is then re-used for non-potable purposes.

Mass planting of native species along the foreshore will create a natural windbreak and also increase bio diversity over time.

Southport Broadwater Parklands has long been a community gathering place and event location

AECOM has also lifted the main event area of the parkland – a huge area of grassland – to cope with storm surge and sea level rise. In some places the ground has been lifted by more than two metres, tapering down towards the shoreline.

If we do have storm surge then the main event area of the park has been modified to cope with this. We have also built a new pier into Broadwater that has been substantially strengthened to cope with storm surge and sea level rise.

We are finding that all new infrastructure along the coastline now needs much more intensive engineering. More and more of our planning budgets are going into this,” says Thompson.

The site has a large education component and an ongoing research program run by Griffith University Photo: Christopher Frederick Jones

Thompson says one of the greatest attributes of the Southport Broadlands Park site is its ability to function as a public education and awareness site.

“A lot of the ideas, such as the stormwater treatment, used on this site have been around for some time but they have not been put into practice on this scale before – certainly not all in the one place.

“The education component of the project is very exciting. There will be a mini classroom in the middle of the site that will explain the concepts of the plan. There will also be ongoing research and testing conducted of all the ecological initiatives by Griffith University,” says Thompson.

Sustainable design features

  • Sea level rise and storm surge adaptation features, including raised ground levels and strengthened coastal infrastructure such as piers

  • Solar power generation to feed into the grid and offset the park’s power consumption

  • Mass planting of native species to increase bio diversity and provide a natural windbreak
  • Green roof to Pavilion building for insulation
  • Architectural screening to reduce mechanical cooling requirements
  • Recycled plastic batterns as main furniture material
  • Provision of bicycle transport routes
  • Signage to educate the public of the benefits of these initiatives

Project Team:

EDAW AECOM (project management, master planner, landscape architecture, WSUD, signage and wayfinding)

Maunsell AECOM (project management, civil engineering, structural engineering, sustainable design)

Bitzios Consulting (traffic planner)

Bassett (building engineering)

White Architecture (architecture)

Biome (coastal engineering, agronomy)

Brecknock (art built in)

Hydroplan (irrigation)

John Deshon Architects (access consultant)

Budget: $32 million

lblundell@thefifthestate.com.au

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