Text description provided by the architects. A new pier and an adjacent lift structure designed by Woods Bagot are key elements in the Rockhampton Riverside Precinct, a project to revitalize the Riverside district by harnessing the potential of the previously neglected area and transforming it into a hub of community activity. The newly redeveloped riverside pier uses materials that nod to the community’s historical past of gold, silver and copper mining and signifies a new age of economic and cultural growth after the damage caused by Cyclone Maria in 2015. Woods Bagot principal Mark Damant says that the riverside precinct is now the go-to place in Rockhampton and regional Queensland, with the site becoming a public urban park comprising of a playground, playful water features, amenities, local artwork, terraced landscaping, and places for shade and outdoor seating.
“Rockhampton Riverside Precinct has become a destination for everyone to visit, occupy and enjoy. The vision of restoring the energy from the gold period has been realized along with the aim to provide the people of Rockhampton with a world-class civic and recreational space,” said Mr. Damant. To achieve this, Woods Bagot synthesized multiple influences such as nearby sites, natural landscapes, and local industries which find reflection in the overall design of the two-story public building. The result is a destination that hosts a public landing on the lower ground level and a modern restaurant serving fresh seafood and seasonal produce on the main concourse.
Drawing a direct relationship with the famed ‘Queenslander’ – the housing typology of the city – the large overhanging roof provides refuge from the sun while providing uninterrupted, sweeping views of the natural landscape. Cool breezes easily flow through the open corridor and deck while the building’s vertical lift responds to the location’s subtropical climates and flood-prone coast. The prominent shape also acts as they way-finder to the site, conjuring images of the masts of the ships of days past.
The building’s crisp, linear shape and industrial aesthetic are borrowed from the steel Fitzroy Bridge to the North, while the eastern-lying Mount Archer’s history of prosperous goldmines and beckoning wealth inspired the form of the rich, earthy color scheme. The natural materials palette of stone, timber, metal, and glass allowed local craftsmen to assemble elements by hand using traditional methods. Polygonal, weathered metal partitions flank the building and allow for views of the 19-hectare parkland it resides in as well as warding off the sun’s heat.
The adjacent lift structure ensures ease of access to the waterfront walkway and water features. Clad in Corten steel, the russet-toned exterior echoes the rich tones of the natural and farmed landscape and use of metal nods to the history of copper, gold and silver mining in the area. Solar panels on the roof generate green electricity which is fed back into the local power grid. Electric vehicle charging and bicycle maintenance stations are available throughout the park.
“The finished design delivers over 30,000 m2 of public space, tripling the amount of civic and open space that previously existed,” said Mr. Damant. “Putting people at the center of the design process is always where we start, and this is exactly the outcome we planned for – creating a special place for community gathering and to drive a groundswell of local pride in the city.” With master planning and landscape design by Urbis, the Riverside redevelopment is the first stage in returning the city center to its place as the vibrant and dynamic heart of the region.