May 23, 2019

BRISBANE – The CTBUH Australia Chapter’s Brisbane Committee held the second seminar in its 2019 series on the topic of QDesign.

John Flynn, Chair of the CTBUH Australia Chapter’s Brisbane Committee, welcomed guests on behalf of CTBUH and presented a summary of current news in the industry. Flynn shared a video of the demolition in 14 seconds of Martin Tower in Lehigh Valley. In other ABC news, window washers were rescued from a rogue lift on an Oklahoma City building. Flynn noted that the $4bn Cockle Bay revamp in Sydney was approved. Flynn explained that there is a forestry sponsored mass timber apartment tower proposed in Milwaukee in a public private partnership. A developer aims to prove that they can make profit with environmental benefits with a 21-story timber skyscraper in Vancouver. The tallest mosque was completed after 7 years of construction in Algiers with capacity for 120 000 worshippers and 7000 cars. The UK Government has created a fund of 20m pounds to remove unsafe cladding. Flynn concluded by acknowledging I M Pei who passed away at age 102. Flynn highlighted Pei’s work in steel and glass geometry including the Louvre and Collins Place Melbourne.

After breakfast, Flynn introduced the presenter, Malcolm Middleton, Architect, Office of the Queensland Government Architects (OQGA), to share QDESIGN. Middleton introduced the role of the OQGA, a small office involved in public works with the additional responsibility of urban design. OQGA advises on housing, transport (e.g. Cross River Rail), the arts (e.g. New Performing Arts Centre), education (e.g. vertical schools) and planning.

Middleton then introduced QDesign. What is QDesign? Middleton described QDesign as a “better design agenda”. The approach in developing QDesign was to keep it simple. QDesign features a magazine feel and good design itself. Middleton highlighted that it was important that the guide not look like a typical Government publication. The aim for QDesign was to draw on the wide variety of existing design guides to create a framework with a unique Queensland flavor.

Middleton presented the vision for QDesign that involved nine principles across three steps: work with context, establish a strong structure and demonstrate leadership. A key feature of the QDesign is its agile format that can be updated with relevant projects and images. Middleton described the nine principles of QDesign using examples drawn from the local urban environment. Each principle includes a set of actions and set of strategies in a common format. The principles related to context challenge designers to be climate responsive, to be inspired by local place and culture and to enhance biodiversity and natural systems. These principles encourage designers to take advantage of the local environment. Middleton explained that this can include planting trees or putting in landscaping which may seem obvious but is often debated in projects. The principles related to establishing a strong structure aim to connect people and provide great and adaptive places for people to live. Middleton presented a range of excellent examples of these principles in action in Queensland. The final QDesign principles challenge designers to lead by example and engage effectively. Middleton highlighted the success of the design competition for the Brisbane Powerhouse in engaging the market. Middleton concluded by stressing the importance for State and Local Governments to embrace QDesign.

The presentation was followed by a Q&A session with Middleton. Firstly, Middleton was asked about the local uptake of QDESIGN. Middleton presented a Gold Coast based version to the Council of Mayors that was signed off on the spot and will be presenting to major Queensland areas during the year. Secondly, Middleton addressed the state of the companion documents. Middleton explained that the Streets companion is currently the most developed but there is a push for a community housing apartments approach. Finally, Middleton responded to a question about whether a smart cities version of QDESIGN would be created. Middleton explained that fundamentally QDESIGN is methodical way to capture design thinking so could be filtered to focus on smart cities. Lawrence Toaldo, Managing Director, Conrad Gargett, concluded the event with a vote of thanks. Toaldo thanked Middleton for the dedication of the Queensland Government Architects in pushing the bar in architecture and design. Toaldo highlighted that we live in a great place and should not take it for granted.