Brisbane Ferry Terminals, Australia

Design innovation by Aurecon and Cox Rayner Architects 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 an AUD 100 million upgrade programme for the Brisbane ferry terminal network.  

Aurecon and Cox Rayner Architects 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:

Designing flood resilient ferry terminals - 3D modelling design

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