Aurecon brings moving architecture to life
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The design solution for Australia’s new Brisbane ferry terminals is the latest example of Aurecon’s experience and expertise in bringing moving architecture to life. Aurecon and Cox Architecture were the designers of this bold design concept, which is a significant shift away from convention in aesthetics, flood resilience and improving accessibility.

In association with Cox Architecture, Aurecon has been nominated by the World Architecture Festival for its work on the Brisbane Ferry Terminals in two categories - Transport and Small Projects.

The design itself uses the power of flood waters to protect the structures – like a tree bending in the wind. Powered by water, the gangway uses buoyancy to automatically detach from the shore during flood events, swinging behind the pontoon and out of the way of debris; simultaneously the pontoon’s downstream mooring point changes function to provide lateral restraint. Unique gangway floor mechanics work with the tidal range to maintain level intermediate landings to provide what is believed to be a world-first solution for achieving compliant disabled access.

The terminals deliver a modern, ambitious and elegant architectural design in the maritime environment. A single sculpted pier eliminates the traditional array of pontoon guide piles and deflects heavy objects away during a flood event to prevent damage and the boat‐hull shape inspired pontoon minimises the risk of debris impact and reduces negative lift on leading edge and drag force during floods

“Our solutions are complex in detail but simple in concept and we work closely with our architect partners to bring aesthetic and resilient solutions to life,” said Arne Nilsen, Aurecon’s project director for the Brisbane project. “The pontoon is both functional and visually appealing, providing largely unobstructed views of the river.”

In designing the ferry terminals, Aurecon transferred skills gained in major industrial mechanical projects for bulk materials handling, ship loading facilities and buildings projects into a marine passenger transport environment.

“Aurecon has been engaged on every stadium moving roof project in Australia and our solutions are very different to those that other engineers have delivered elsewhere in the world,” said Mr Nilsen. “The way we overcome the design challenge is to develop driving and restraint systems that simplify the load responses, significantly reduce operating risk and improving resilience of these massive structures, some of which span up to 160 m.”

Huge, moving structures such as a retractable stadium roofs require a unique integration of mechanical, electrical controls and structures designs to be built into the elegance of the architecture.

“To maintain the essence of the architect’s design Aurecon draws upon our engineering experience gained across many sectors and disciplines,” said Mr Nilsen. “At the heart of our design solution is maintaining the vision of the architect, while creating a piece of infrastructure that is durable, easy to maintain and cost-efficient to operate.”