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Sustainability Story

Brisbane’s new ferry terminals — flood-proof, practical and iconic

Arne Nilsen and his kids

Arne Nilsen with his kids, Emily (11) and Paul (9), at the Brisbane Ferry Terminals

“The ferry terminals replacement project will deliver to the community a new generation of terminals that takes ferry infrastructure to a new level.” Arne Nilsen, Project Director at Aurecon

Critical transport infrastructure was devastated when the flooded Brisbane River broke its banks on 12 January 2011.

As the main waterway through Brisbane, the river is an integral part of life in the city lovingly known as ‘the river city’.

There is a saying in Queensland, Australia. One day it’s beautiful and the next day it’s perfect.

But for flood besieged residents, beauty turned to horror as the mighty Brisbane River — which reached a peak of 4.46 metres in Brisbane City at 3:00 am on Thursday 13 January 2011 — consumed their homes and livelihoods.

The Queensland Premier declared a disaster, setting up evacuation centres and a major incident room to coordinate a rescue operation.

With transport routes cut off, displaced residents waited anxiously, unable to go and inspect the damage to their homes.

Protection against the paralysing effect of future floods was a primary focus of Brisbane City Council’s AUD 100 million upgrade programme for the Brisbane ferry terminal network.

The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments approved Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) funding for the ferry terminals replacement project as part of the city rebuild.

Brisbane CBD awash

Brisbane’s new ferry terminals include multiple technologies to help them better withstand floods.

“These new generation terminals are a fine example of how architects and engineers are working together symbiotically to evolve building typologies beyond the mundane and into new territory.

“We challenged each other throughout the process, not only to solve the technical aspects of Brisbane City Council’s brief, but to push the limits of the possibilities across every single component.

“We hope these terminals will become synonymous with Brisbane’s forwardlooking attitude to the design of public transport infrastructure and enhance commuters’ experience of and connection to the city’s key natural feature — its river.” Brendan Gaffney, Director at Cox Rayner

Watch our VIZ RT video — a visual explanation of exactly how the ferry is resilient to rising water.

Conscious always of our responsibility to design for future generations, we asked Arne Nilsen’s children Emily, age 11 and Paul, age 9, what they thought of the new ferry terminals.

What is the best thing about the new ferry terminals?

Paul: They will not break in a flood.
Emily: They have really attractive colours and can survive floods.

Why do you think your dad’s team’s design won the design competition?

Paul: Their design is not able to break in floods and looks awesome.
Emily: The gangway is safe and can protect itself from floods.

How are the new ferry terminals different?

Paul: They are much more durable and look better.
Emily: These ferry terminals look a lot more cool.

If you were part of the design team what would you put in the ferry terminal?

Paul: I would put more orange paint, because I think more of the ferry terminal should be orange than grey.
Emily: I’d put three ferry landing places because it would be more efficient in getting people to places quicker.

Do you think the ferry terminals will be there forever — even if there is another flood?

Paul: Not forever, but for a very long time.
Emily: I think the ferry terminals will be there for at least another 80 years.

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