Brisbane Ferry Terminals, Australia

Design innovation by Aurecon and Cox Architecture delivered a new generation of flood resilient, elegant, accessible ferry terminals for Brisbane

In January 2011, devastating floods severely damaged or destroyed seven of Brisbane’s ferry terminals.

To protect against the paralysing effect of future floods, Brisbane City Council undertook a significant upgrade programme for the Brisbane ferry terminal network.  

Aurecon and Cox Architecture won an open design competition, which attracted 65 submissions from around the world, to design new ferry terminals that would be resilient to future flood events and accessible to all.

Flood resilient, accessible, elegant


Design objectives were to:

  • improve flood resilience,
  • achieve wheelchair and mobility aid accessibility and
  • deliver a modern, ambitious and elegant architectural design in the maritime environment that eliminated the traditional array of pontoon guide piles.


The challenge of integrating these competing design objectives required deep collaboration between the maritime, industrial mechanical and architectural disciplines. The depth of this collaboration is at the core of the project’s many innovations.

To remove all visible piles from the river, a single sculpted pier and gangway acting as a radial arm provide all lateral support to the pontoon.

An upstream fender absorbs the energy of and deflects heavy objects away during a flood event to prevent damage to the terminal.

A boat-hull shape inspired pontoon reduces negative lift on leading edge and drag force during floods.

The terminal’s gangway utilises buoyancy to automatically detach from the shore during flood events, swinging behind the broad downstream end of the pontoon and out of the way of debris; simultaneously the pontoon’s downstream mooring point changes function to provide lateral restraint to the pontoon in a flood or post-flood situation.

Unique gangway floor mechanics maintain level intermediate landings throughout the tidal range provide what is believed to be a world-first solution for achieving compliant disabled access.

Design innovation in flood resilience

Brisbane’s new ferry terminals all include technology to help them better withstand floods. They are a bold design concept and a significant shift away from previous design convention in aesthetics, flood resilience and accessibility.

This technology to provide resilience in infrastructure can be applied to any ferry terminal network, and in particular those subject to flooding. The unique flood resilient design features allow for a terminal which can be returned to operation shortly after significant flood events. The design ushers in a new generation of terminals which provide resilience and longevity even in the face of natural disasters.

Aurecon delivered all design elements for the ferry terminals, including:

Award winning

This project has won the following awards for Aurecon:

  • Good Design Australia Awards - 2017 Good Design Selection: Product Design, Commercial and Industrial - Flood Resilient and Accessible Ferry Terminals for Brisbane (Cox Architecture in association with Aurecon)
  • Gold Award Winner - Consult Australia Awards for Excellence: Design Innovation (with Cox Architecture)
  • Australian Institute of Architects 2016 Queensland Architecture Awards – State Award – Public Architecture, Brisbane Regional Commendation – Urban Design: Brisbane CityCat Ferry Terminals Renewal (Cox Architecture with Aurecon)
  • Good Design Awards 2016 – Good Design Selection, Architectural Design: Urban Design and Public Spaces: The New Flood-Resilient Brisbane Ferry Terminals (Cox Architecture in association with Aurecon)
  • Infrastructure Partnerships Australia 2016 National Infrastructure Awards – Finalist, Smart Infrastructure Award: Brisbane Ferry Terminals
  • World Architecture Festival, 2013 – Future Project of the Year (Infrastructure): Brisbane Ferry Terminals Post-Flood Recovery (Cox Architecture with Aurecon)
  • Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Brisbane Ferry Terminals Design Competition, 2011 (Cox Architecture with Aurecon)
  • Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Awards – Queensland Division – Winner: Overall Project: R W Hawken Award – Brisbane's Flood Recovery Ferry Terminals (Aurecon, Cox Architecture and Brisbane City Council)
  • Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Awards – Queensland Division – Winner: Excellence Award (Innovation/Research and Development) – Brisbane's Flood Recovery Ferry Terminals (Aurecon, Cox Architecture and Brisbane City Council)
  • Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Awards – Queensland Division – Winner: Excellence Award (Project Infrastructure) Brisbane's Flood Recovery Ferry Terminals (Aurecon, Cox Architecture and Brisbane City Council)

Designing flood resilient ferry terminals - 3D modelling design

Aurecon designing flood resilient ferry terminals: Brisbane ferry terminal network from Aurecon
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