Queensland Projects and Sites


Gardens Point Study - Queensland University of Technology (Formerly QIT)

January to December 1984

Research and Studies AILA National Award 1986


An excellent example of a co-operative design team’s work to achieve a solution for a significant public open space in central Brisbane. The text is relevant and beautifully illustrated with appropriate graphics. It is supported with studies and data which deal effectively with the planning and design issues inherent in the site planning. The master plan proposals are illustrated with a series of drawings which expose the design, intent philosophy and step by step develop the design options into the master plan stage. The presentation of the report achieved a high standard in both content and graphics



Gardens Point is a key riverfront Brisbane peninsula, adjacent to the central business district and including the City Botanic Gardens, Parliament House, Old Government House, the Queensland Institute of Technology and the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. The area contains elements of great historical and horticultural value and features relating directly to the foundation of the city.

The Gardens were established in 1828 and since then have been a major recreational site for Brisbane people and have come to be regarded as a city landmark. The Gardens have experienced a changing function with the establishment of the Mt. Coottha Botanic Gardens, and now serve dual, and sometimes conflicting purposes of being a haven of peace and tranquillity, andat the same time a venue for major concerts and entertainment. The Gardens also are being increasingly isolated from the city centre because of the traffic demands on Alice Street as a major freeway feeder.

QIT’s population of 10,000 students and staff will continue to grow, bringing problems of insufficient accommodation and parking, as well as adding to traffic flow difficulties in the area. In addition, it is apparent that the settings for Old Government House and Parliament House inadequately reflect the status of two of Brisbane’s most historic buildings.

In recognition of these problems, the Brisbane City Council and the QIT set up a working party using QIT expertise, to conduct a detailed study of the area, with particular emphasis on:
 •  community needs and attitudes
 •  the particular requirements of the major institutions in the area
 •  preservation of the historical and horticultural aspects of Gardens Point
 •  traffic flow and pedestrian accessibility,and
 •  accommodation of all of the Gardens’ functions.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Alderman Sallyanne Atkinson, launched the development proposal to promote public discussion and to gain feedback on whether the proposal satisfies the community. The study was carried out from January to December 1984 and drew on the resources of QIT’s Planning and Landscape Architecture, Surveying, Biology, Civil Engineering and Management Departments.


The proposed strategy addresses the problems identified and aims to maximise the potential use of the area by the people of Brisbane and nearby institutions. The strategy includes major elements affecting the Gardens themselves, access to Gardens Point and its institutions, and other aspects.


City Gardens Lake: The natural depression in the centre of the Gardens accommodated a lake until 1937 and it is proposed to re-establish the lake in an extended form as a focus and theme to the Gardens.

The Pavilion: A striking landmark adjacent to the lake and visible from the city centre, to house facilities such as a kiosk, information boards and pamphlets, public amenities and a small boat hire operation for rowing on the lake.

Amphitheatre/Sound Shell: Proposed on the site of the B.C.C. service nursery, where the spur to the east forms a natural sound buffer to the central Gardens area. The space would serve as the major FREEPS venue and as an informal recreation area for students of the QIT and the Conservatorium, while the rest of the Gardens would remain relatively peaceful.

The Common: A barbecue/picnic area for students and FREEPS patrons, adjacent to the amphitheatre.
The Parliament House Vista: This would provide a grassed vista between Parliament House and the Gardens and a traditional landscape foreground more appropriate to the history of the building.

Yacht Facilities Building: A domain to house facilities for the international yacht marina located near the Edward/Alice Street corner of the Gardens, including small boat tie-up, restricted vehicular access to Edward Street, laundromat, toilets, change rooms and a small kiosk with viewing area.

The Riverside Walk: The riverside is proposed as a major city promenade, extending from the Yacht Facilities Building along the river to the common. The walk would feature offshoot walks through mangrove and rainforest areas, with boards explaining their natural history.

Bunya Promenade: A walk featuring historical Bunya Pines planted in 1858 in honour of colonial botanist, James Bidwill.
The Hill: The area of the existing Curator’s cottage provides one of the most dramatic outlooks over the Gardens, river and city. It is proposed to remove all structures from the hill, to establish it as a public lookout area and a link between the Gardens and the Point.


The City Gardens Entrance: The major entrance to the Gardens, incorporating a pedestrian boulevard along Albert Street to Queen Street, with bus bays, directive signs etc. This would provide the Gardens with a major entrance and facilitate pedestrian access from the city centre to the Gardens.

Ceremonial Forecourt, Parliament House: Located off George Street, with reduced access to QIT and restricted parking provision.

The Major QIT Entrance: Located off Gardens Point Road, with provision for an information point, bus bay and turning area to link with the Domain ferry, pickup/drop-off areas and short-term parking for a limited number of vehicles.

Domain Place: A bus loop to the peninsula from the city centre is envisaged, linking with the Domain ferry.

Community Access Spine: A pedestrian street providing access from carparks and bus and ferry interchanges to the Gardens, via the QIT grounds and beside Old Government House.

Academic Buildings with Carparking: The strip of land between QIT and the Expressway would accommodate three aesthetic new QIT buildings with landscaped settings, to considerably improve the appearance of this area as seen from the Riverside Expressway and the South Bank of the River. Current open carparking on Gardens land would be accommodated on levels beneath the buildings. This parking would be available to the public on weekends.


This proposed development strategy provides a number of improvements for the Gardens Point Area. It serves to:

  • maximise potential use of the entire area by Brisbane people and the students and staff of QIT and the Conservatorium
  • recognise, retain and appropriately treat the historic elements of the Gardens and related buildings, including Parliament House and Old Government House
  • emphasize the natural and man-made features and attractions of the peninsula and nearby riverbank
  • provide a variety of facilities and venues for activities, accessible to all age groups and sections of the community, including weekend parking, and also an increase in the area of Gardens land for public use
  • retain the traditional function of the peninsula as a green foreground to the city centre for views from the south, east and west and present an aesthetic river aspect of QIT, which fronts a major city gateway and the cultural South Bank
  • improve access to Gardens Point by public and private transport and clearly identify separate institutions and areas of use, and
  • accommodate QIT growth beyond the year 2000 in a way which is compatible with its setting.

Working Party:
Dr RD. Gibson, Director, QIT (Chairman)
Ms C. Bull, Senior Lecturer, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, QIT
Mr P. Heywood, Head, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, QIT
Mr C.F.Sharp, Manager, Department of Health and Community Services, BCC
Mr J. Wood, Director, Property Management, BCC
Project Team:
Ms C. Bull, Senior Lecturer, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, QIT (Project Co-ordinator)
Mr J. Bedford, Research Assistant, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, QIT
Project work by post-graduate students of QIT also contributed to the report   

The entire content and results of this study are now held at the Library of the Queensland Institute of Technology and are available for public reference. They include physical condition surveys, user and resident surveys, reports, references, data and background drawings used in the preparation of the report.

Data collected in the multi-disciplinary study provided a basis for the planning and design stage carried out under the direction of Ms Catherin Bull* in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at QIT, which resulted in the development proposal.

*Catherin Bull was a senior lecturer in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at QIT.

She has been a consultant for major developments in Sydney, Melbourne and South East Asia.


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