School of Architecture

Tuesday 15 November 2016

In August, a group of UQ postgraduate architecture students participated in South East Queensland (SEQ) Waterfutures, a high-level planning charrette convened by James Davidson Architect, a local architecture firm established by alumnus, Dr James Davidson (Bachelor of Design Studies '95, Bachelor of Architecture '99, PhD '10).

Over five days, with contributions from 170 professionals and representatives from state and local government, SEQ Waterfutures outlined a new regional approach to integrated water management in the region.

Masters students formed an integral part of the charrette, assisting international facilitators John Hoal and Derek Hoeferlin from Washington University in St Louis, United States of America, and Tijs van Loon from Bosch Slabbers Landscape Architects in the Netherlands to visually draw out the interdisciplinary conversation between participants. Supported by the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, the Dutch Partnership in International Business and Suncorp, the charrette brought together various institutions and professionals using design thinking as a way of building consensus and ownership of a holistic, integrated vision for Brisbane and its surrounds. An interim presentation to the CEO of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and Queensland Chief Scientist was well received.

With the support of Dr James Davidson and Sam Bowstead from James Davidson Architect, students have been able to translate new knowledge and ideas developed during the charrette into individual design proposals in ARCH7004: Dwelling and Density, co-ordinated by the School of Architecture’s Dr Paola Leardini - who also leads the School’s contribution to the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, with Associate Professor Antony Moulis.

The integration of ideas about sponge urbanism into innovative mixed-use building clusters resulted in exciting high-density urban schemes for Norman Creek that prioritise livability and flood resilience.  Students’ work culminated in the exhibition Creek Urbanism: Perspectives of Futures Norman Creek Waterscapes, displayed at Suncorp on Thursday 3 November. The exhibition was well attended by members of the Dutch Consulate, Flood Community of Practice and Queensland Reconstruction Authority, who applauded the outcomes of the design process started with the SEQ Waterfutures charrette. Given the high-quality work, members from Brisbane City Council requested material be exhibited in their public gallery, where it is currently on display in Brisbane Square.

Participation in high-level forums like SEQ Waterfutures is an important opportunity for Master’s students, as they embark on careers as future architects engaging industry, integrating research into practice and, most importantly, advocating for positive change in our cities. 

  • Using drawing as a type of esperanto, SEQ Waterfutures was able to visualise discussions between disciplines.

  • Project Director Dr James Davidson with Dr Andrew O'Neill Healthy Waterways.