POPSART: Architect Brendan Gaffney talks about the Good Design Award winning ferry terminals that offer both beauty and brawn

The design of seven new Brisbane River ferry terminals by Aurecon and Cox Architecture, has won the Australian Good Design of the Year Award. 

I met with Brendan Gaffney architect from Cox Architecture at the Holman St Ferry Terminal Brisbane to talk about his award winning design. The ferry terminal is a combination of world first design and technology enmeshing the expertise of architects and engineers to create an aquatic facility that is smart enough to with stand a 500 year flood event while having the aesthetic of a romantic floating hull with one of most stunning scenic vista of the city, if only we could host a cocktail party here!

The terminals are a rebuild after the devastating floods of 2011 that annihilated the previous ones. It was the gangplank that was the problem according to Brendan, which caught a lot of debris like a mini dam collecting water tanks, boats, and houses with the destructive power of the water it actually brought the structure down. The key innovation is that now the gangplank detaches and swings around and sits down stream away from the debris.

The whole mechanism is so visually powerful and reactive to the environment that it made me wonder if a little part of Brendan would like to see that happen, he admitted “You hope you never have to see this work but…”

The initial brief was for the structure to with stand a 1 in 100 year flood event, it got boosted to a 1 in 500 year flood event because of the reality of  global warming affecting  the sea level rising.  As Brendan said  “Government spend heaps of money on transport infrastructure, making facilities resilient and resistant to natural disasters and climate change event which save government dollars in the end.”

The pontoon itself has a maritime flavour with a very boat like appearance built from recycle Tallow wood from NSW and stripped timber. The inspiration for the look of the design Brendan explained resonated from  these terminals being beautiful spaces with spectacular views “We wanted them to be like mini plazas that connect people to the river in that romantic way that you do when you get a Vaporetto in Venice, getting away from that waiting on the land in a shed that previous generation fostered.”

If you are in Brisbane you may not be able to have a cocktail here but it’s well worth the visit and in Sydney check out the new Barangaroo ferry terminals as they have been designed by Cox Architects as well.