The Centre For Subtropical Design – A Collaboration Between A Local Government Authority And A University

Kennedy, Rosemary J. & Caswell, Helen (2005) The Centre For Subtropical Design – A Collaboration Between A Local Government Authority And A University. In SB05 Action for Sustainabilty, The World Sustainable Building Conference, September 27-29, 2005, Tokyo, Japan.

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Brisbane City Council (BCC), in South East Queensland Australia, was concerned for some time about the need to ‘raise the bar’ on the quality of design and development in the local environment. Traditionally, Brisbane’s urban fabric had been enriched by typologies empathetic of subtropical design concepts. However, in a context of rapid development, this fabric is giving way to buildings that have minimum regard for climate and an uneasy relationship with their surroundings. The importance of design appropriate for the subtropical climate and lifestyle of South East Queensland and the importance of celebrating these and strengthening Brisbane’s image as a vibrant subtropical city was recognised in Council’s visioning process during 2002. The idea of a centre for design excellence emerged and was included in BCC's strategic vision "Living in Brisbane 2010" document and Corporate Plan. Following discussions with the three key local universities, a call for submissions was made and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) proposal was successful. As a result, the Council has partnered with QUT to establish a Centre for Subtropical Design with the vision of achieving a built environment that embodies good design, in this region. The primary motivation of the Centre is to stimulate outcomes which appropriately address local conditions and simultaneously engage with sustainable environmental practices. The Council’s initiative to put resources into subtropical design sets a challenge to those responsible for designing and producing the built environment.
The vision for the Centre is to inspire design and construction practices that respond positively, rather than indifferently, to the region’s subtropical location – design in which certain features are neither under nor over-stated, but which simply exist to benefit and complement the preferences of people and their lifestyles. The reason the Centre is focusing on design, is that ideas about building design, and urban design and ecological sustainability are interconnected with ideas about regional identity. Both BCC and QUT recognise that regional identity has a significant role to play in the formation of a sustainable built environment. The framework that the Centre has established engages with not only issues of environmental sustainability but social sustainability as well.
The vision for the Centre is that regionally appropriate buildings and landscapes are inherently more sustainable in environmental, social and economic terms. From a local government perspective it can be a struggle to ensure good design and fundamentals are not outweighed by the economics of development where ‘one size fits all’ solutions are replicated across regions and entire countries. It is the role of government and education institutions such as QUT to show leadership, and through partnerships such as the Centre for Subtropical Design, achieve more than we could individually. The Centre provides the partners with an innovative vehicle for working productively with the community, industry representatives and other local institutions on better solutions for our built environment. The Centre’s basic precept is to ask these stakeholders for input on what works in practice, and use this input to improve existing practice.
All partnerships can have teething problems, but where the partnership is more than a marriage of convenience and there are shared values and goals, the partnership can endure and become strong. This paper provides some insights into what can help build a sustainable partnership between stakeholders.

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ID Code: 3312
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: subtropical design, regional identity, sustainable building
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 31 Jan 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:30

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