An area as big as the half of the Netherlands: that’s the Brisbane River watershed in Southeast Queensland, Australia. In January 2011, after 9 years of drought, suddenly 12.000 houses and 2.500 companies in the region were inundated, with another 16.000 houses suffering partial flooding. As a result, the region is eagerly looking for measures that will counter the negative effects of climate change, drought and heat stress. Besides periods of too much rainfall, long droughts occur in increasing frequency, in an area that also urbanises quickly. Intelligent water management and water-inclusive design are clearly more urgent than ever.
The ‘Southeast Queensland Waterfuture Charrette’, prepared by BoschSlabbers together with local architect James Davidson and Derk Hoeferling from the Washington University St Louis (USA), was grand and amazing.
Grand, because the charrette saw 170 professionals working together on a regional vision, from the location where the ‘Upper Brisbane River’ springs, in the mountains behind Brisbane, to its mouth in the coastal area, the ‘bay-city’.
A large group of professionals, from different disciplines: designers, engineers, planning experts, politicians, hydrologists, economists, legal professionals, and social scientists. For each of them, the river and its surroundings are a substantial part of their daily job, but most had not met before. For them, this type of cooperation was also a first, and again, exploration of possible futures by sketching together proved very effective. It merged 170 more or less individual opinions into shared goals and a collective long-term perspective.
Amazing, because the charrette generated both a shared ownership and a shared awareness that water may well become an important trump card for good living conditions in every corner of the region.
It all started with the reformulation of the question of ‘how to technically solve water issues’ to ‘how to solve water issues and at the same time position water as an integrative and binding element that lends Brisbane’s identity renewed strength’ This turned the charrette from a meeting about prevention of flooding to a meeting also about the addition of ecological, spatial urban and social quality to the region.
The biggest win of the charrette is in the following 5 lessons learned:
Title: Deltas in practice: South east Queensland Waterfuture Charrette
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Client: SEQ Water Futures
Type: design workshops / charette
Cooperation: James Davidson architect, Derk Hoeferling / Washington University St Louis (USA)
Image credits: BoschSlabbers
Project code: HB 13-06