Project in Detail
Gold Coast Cultural & Civic Master Plan Design Ideas Competition
Surfers Paradise, Australia
degenhartSHEDD, Varsity Lakes, Australia
Design Forum, Australia
Competition Board One-Title and Images
Gold Coast Cultural and Civic Precinct Ideas Competition
The above competition sought to inspire the City of the Gold Coast with architectural visions of what its cultural centre could become, drawing from its past and projecting into its future. To address this call for visions, a group was formed consisting of an architect, a landscape architect, an eco-estate developer and an Aboriginal historian, providing the mix of expertise required address the land and its history as a basis for the design vision.
The project brief naturally included environmentally sustainability, but the foundational aspiration of this team was not just to include sustainability in the design, but to make sustainability the wellspring of it. With that focus, a fundamental--almost radical--decision was made by the team: all of the existing building on the site would be retained and “reincarnated” to fulfill the architectural brief, extensively employing the concept of adaptive re-use. Our principle is that sustainability is never a concept that can be merely applied to a design, but must form the fundamental core of it. While we watch our world each day being increasingly stripped of its natural resources, its human resources grow exponentially, making it our premise that the culture of the throw-away building must itself be thrown away. Curious about the winning entry? Not only were the existing buildings completely disregarded, but the land mass itself was as well--a beautiful and visionary concept, but more of a nightmare when considering sustainability outcomes.
Expressed simply, the facilities brief for the completion is described as follows:
• Art Gallery
• Drama/Performance Theatres and Civic/Concert Hall
• Discovery Centre/Moving Image/Film Museum and Cinemas
• Cultural/Historical Libraries and Interpretive Centre
• Council Administration Offices
• Mayoral Office Complex/ Council Chambers
• Entertainment Hub/Restaurants
• Arts Incubator, Craft Rooms and Creative Education Space
• Outdoor Amphitheatre
• Green Transport/Linkage
• Car Parking
Although it is not possible to address the above brief with such limited documentation, we hope that the glimpse provided of our response illustrates that it is both thorough and rich in philosophy, history, imagery, sensitivity and creativity.
Further expressing that philosophy, please find below the abbreviated competition description.
Like the Nerang River at its heart, the Gold Coast has wound sinuously through the years: from a natural paradise, through farms and mills and old hotels and ferries, to a glamorous tourist destination. Now another change is proposed, a change that is, in some ways, more significant and more radical than any that has come before: because it seeks not to supplant this history—to build over what has come before—but to unite all its disparate elements into a cultural heartland whose everyday beat reverberates back to the past, through the present and into the future of our ever-changing city.
To do this—to transform the current Cultural and Civic Precinct into something more powerful and all-encompassing—one must look, first and foremost, at the land on which it is set. Telling the story of that land and people’s changing relationships to it, from misty origins to vibrant modernity, will be the surest way to resuscitate the precinct’s centrality and relevance to the city and its inhabitants (whether they are permanent residents, regular visitors or short-term holidaymakers).
That story must begin with the original aboriginal inhabitants and their land of plentiful food and hardwood. At this stage, “the land, the rivers, the sea, the flora and fauna all formed part of [the locals’] spiritual and temporal universe.”1 Soon that universe was changed, so that it included not only the spectacular beauty native to the area, but also farmers and maize and sugar cane, and then ferries and hotels and post offices and horse-drawn coaches. Then came the glamour and the kitsch, the tourists and the urban growth spurt.
Now the city has become a complex weave of historical and geographical influences: largely defined by golden beaches, bright rivers and rich hinterland as much in culture as in boundary.
Our vision for the new Cultural and Civic Precinct is for it to tell this story: not only through the works of art or performances or undertakings that it is being built to house, but through every part of the built form, every decision, every function and every plant. After all, the site itself reflects the changes the city has undergone, the juxtaposition of thriving urban life and the beauty and calm of nature; it “is in the heart of the city, yet is in effect a microcosm of the original habitat of mangroves and carsuarinas on the river.”3
We hope that we can connect this centre of modernity with the “mysteries of Creation, the infinity of time and the possibility of making a human connection with these great questions,”4 like the traditional inhabitants of the region or the artists who have contributed to the development of our city’s culture.
To do so, we have chosen to focus on certain inherent aspects of the land or local culture—to weave these features or symbols into every part of our thought process and design. And we have chosen one particular symbol as a figurehead, which represents not only the land and the culture, but also the concepts upon which we have founded our vision: connectivity, timelessness, sustainability and sustenance. This symbol is the bark canoe, the “goondul”.
By echoing the concept and form of the traditional aboriginal bark canoe throughout our design, we hope the cultural precinct and the people who experience it will transcend the barriers of time and space and culture. We hope it can bring them all into that envisioned heartland that unifies past, present and future—original inhabitants, locals and new-come visitors—beach, river, hinterland and city—into one overarching culture of openness, understanding, innovation and sustainability… A culture carried by the new heart of the Gold Coast: “Goondulbah”, place of canoes.
Ms Amy Degenhart
61 7 55625100
Client / Developer
Mr Darren Langen
Gold Coast City Council
61 7 55817784
Mr Chris Walton
Landmatters Currumbin Valley Pty Ltd
61 7 55987177
History and Cultural Consultant
Mr Michael Aird
61 7 55028872
Mr Gerard McCormick
61 7 55347533