LIVING PUBLIC at Gold Coast, Surfer Paradise (AUSTRALIA)
Gold Coast City, located south of Brisbane, is the second most populous city in Queensland. Recently it has been experiencing one of the largest increases in population in Australia due to economic factors, as well as being one of the country’s premier tourist destinations. The estimated residential growth will reach 750,000 by 2031 (from 500,000 in 2008). The Gold Coast low-density and sprawl pattern has created adverse effects on the natural landscape as well as on the regional ecosystem; moreover, the problems are getting even worse due to the incremental urban journey times, due to increasing traffic congestion. Private cars currently represent more than 87% of transport journeys mostly with one occupant; whereas public transport amounts to only 4.4% of all journeys. This study illustrates that densification alone is not sufficient to create a sustainable urban form; the collaborative relation of the compactness, complexity and connectivity, is needed to achieve a sustainable form. The investigation phase revealed that the catalyst of the transformation process is the transportation layer. In these critical circumstances, the Gold Coast Rapid Transit system, a 13km tramline, proposed by the City Council, aims to change the transportation preference, now represented by car dominancy over public transport. In addition to the volume layer’s integration with the void layer, the volume layer and the transportation layer’s performance could be improved through vertical optimization. To explain, the densification in the volume layer has a symbiotic collaboration with the transportation layer’s modification, GCRT project, and vice versa. The proposed tramline, the GCRT system, offers a significant opportunity to support high densities. The design network of public open space is another key element for the intervention. The Gold Coast case shows how the Integrated Modification Methodology (IMM) proceeds and transforms an existing urban context from its actual morphology to a more sustainable one.