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Howard Smith Wharves Regeneration

Part 1 Project 2010
Nicholas Martoo
Queensland University of Technology Brisbane Australia
The Howard Smith Wharves are but a memory, standing still in time, ignored and un-activated by the sprawling city that surrounds them. A cliff-face towers above a concrete landscape, looking down upon an empty space. It is only visited by the intrigued observer and the many commuters which scurry across this vast river-side scar.

This human relationship with an empty site is unclear and undefined by any physical mass or architectural element. The project responds to this opportunity with the rediscovery of built ornamentation and the creation of a new ornamental language facilitated by technology and interaction.

As an experiment with form, surface, and image, a public pool aims to enhance this unwritten context through visual appeal, purpose and meaning. The bold formations, sweeping pathways, and the heroic spaces which encapsulate these pools, draw new light and new hope for a desolate and unused urban space.

Nicholas Martoo

Howard Smith Wharves are situated along the Brisbane River in a close proximity to the central business district of Brisbane. They were originally constructed as the Brisbane Central Wharves but are currently left unused. The Brisbane City Council has recently announced a plan to redevelop the site into a major tourism and commercial precinct. The aim of this project is to find an alternative direction to activate this narrow strip of land situated between the river and cliff, and currently used primarily as an insignificant thoroughfare between the CBD and the residential and other city districts.

With the advent of computer technologies, thresholds and boundaries became ambiguous, obscured and irrelevant. This provides an interesting opportunity to consider current status of Howard Smith Wharves site. Although it is not a derelict land, it became a residual space that hardly offers benefits to anyone despite its close proximities to the city and other amenities. The main task in this unit is to identify opportunities to reconsider how thresholds, boundaries and the sense of place can be reintroduced to Howard Smith Wharves in a modern subtropical city of Brisbane and re-establish Howard Smith Wharves to be a gathering space for local, regional and international visitors.

A strong emphasis is placed on an effective use of digital tools for developing ideas for this project. The debate revolving around computers is no longer about the practicalities of CAD over manual drafting but rather involves the question; what role can technology play in the design process and what possibilities does it open up? The results of this relationship are still unclear and there is still much exploration and discovery to be done. One area of possibility that is emerging is the rediscovery of ornamentation and the creation of a new ornamental language facilitated by technology. Both selected projects were developed under a group which focused to design swimming pools and ancillary structures. It was up to each student to define the nature of their swimming pool and what type of supporting buildings it requires.


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