Investing in public spaces boosts regional resilience
Councils should look to their public spaces for opportunities to build regional resilience, says Yuri Dillon, director of architecture firm Liquid Blu.
“Quality design that integrates amenities into public space provides both short-term and long-term benefits,” says Yuri. “It can help attract and retain residents and serve as a catalyst for economic development.”
Yuri has spent twenty years providing aquatics, sports and community facilities for councils across Australia, giving him insight into the challenges facing councils, as well as emerging opportunities. He cites Liquid Blu’s work on the Yeppoon Foreshore revitalization project as an example. The exciting destination offers a wide range of free activities as well as hospitality options. “At Yeppoon, we have created a huge lagoon with a wet edge that overlooks the beach,” says Yuri. “The lagoon is surrounded by a series of pavilions and activates the southern foreshore area, increasing connectivity between existing land uses.”
Yuri says the benefits go beyond attracting tourists. “Yeppoon Lagoon is an asset to families considering a regional move, whether for work or lifestyle, stimulating population growth. Public facilities also support micro-businesses such as exercise yards and coffee vendors.”
On a larger scale, the recently released Master Plan for Darwin’s waterfront will transform underused public space in the Northern Territory’s capital and support adjacent commercial and residential districts. Liquid Blu’s proposal and concept, co-designed with landscape architects Place Design Group, centers around an exciting public aquatic and recreational area. Adopted by local residents, the plan will provide lifestyle, tourism and development benefits to Darwin and boost the regional economy.
Built-in community hubs
Yuri also draws attention to the trend towards integrated community quarters such as the recently completed Pimpama Sports Hub, a 14ha sports and community quarter which is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the City of Gold Coast. “Co-locating sports, community and cultural facilities offers great value to councils, delivering savings on construction and longer-term management costs.”
Additionally, integrated neighborhoods amplify community benefits. “One example is placing bookcases next to or even inside aquatic centers, which makes it easy for families to engage in reading,” says Yuri.
Good design adds value
Even small design gestures can have a positive impact on local communities. Liquid Blu’s design for the Gympie Water Recreation Center (Gympie ARC) features a landscaped forecourt with a curved wall that creates a delightful addition to the street. The quality of this space makes the suburb more attractive and demonstrates Gympie Council’s respect for its community.
The value of quality design at all scales cannot be underestimated,” concludes Yuri. “Architects can help councils identify opportunities, develop staged master plans and secure funding. Building a relationship of trust with an architect pays long-term dividends.”