The Yards landscape vision was to provide residents with the opportunity to connect and interact in a shared subtropical oasis. The targeted young professional demographic gave our team an opportunity to develop a project that contributed towards providing healthy, inclusive, and robust communities while redefining contemporary inner-city living in Brisbane.

A series of outdoor rooms, industrial style saw tooth pavilions, outdoor gyms, and seating nooks fosters numerous opportunities for large social gatherings, or allows those seeking solitude to do so within the lush garden setting. This “recreational capacity” was a core design objective for the design team. The typical challenge of maximising recreational opportunity in a high density living environment without that sense of intensity was at the forefront of the design vision. In addition to this was the intention not to isolate the podium within a built fabric but to provide strategic opportunities to visually connect to the vibrant street below and the surrounding urban landscape. A strong focus was also given to understanding the prevailing climatic conditions throughout the landscape providing corridors to guide breezes, open spaces to capture sun, and significant planting to provide environmental cooling and reduced thermal mass.

Form was instrumental in establishing drainage strategies for the podium landscape with clear objectives to seamlessly conceal drainage outlets and implement a sheet flow strategy across large sections of the structural slab. This strategy directed surface storm-water to sheet into concealed gravel strip drains and through drainage cells between planters avoiding the need for point drainage located throughout the podium area. The result was a significantly rationalised drainage system with integrated passive irrigation, ultimately providing a substantial cost saving for the client and reduced potential for leaking through what would have been multiple podium penetrations.

A focal point of the podium landscape is the resort style origami swimming pool which required carefully considered coordination and collaboration from the whole consultant team and builder in order to conceal the necessity to have the pool above the podium level. The resolved design involved intricate podium folds and steps that form a floating pool coping that present at seating height to the adjoining terraces. Like the podium landscape, the origami pool was composed to maximise recreation capacity through a series of wading benches, seating nooks, swimming lanes and poolside sun-lounging pockets. A stadium sized TV is positioned above the pool terrace so that large sporting events and outdoor cinema events can be viewed by residents in a festive, pool party setting. Multiple open air dining pavilions adjoin the pool all with Master chef styled kitchen facilities, teppanyaki grill and a wood fired pizza oven.

A communal herb garden with dwarf fruit trees has been carefully integrated into the fabric of the design providing further opportunities for residents to come together, interact and take ownership of the landscape that surrounds them.

The landscape design aesthetic was based on a contemporary free flowing, multi-dimensional and organic landscape structure, inspired by the folds found in origami, ultimately providing a coherent design language throughout. This patterning is further realised when viewed by the residents from the balconies above presenting a interconnected tapestry plan of gardens and pathways. Careful consideration and testing was given to soil depths and loads on the podium, strategic locations of mounding, and the soil volume for final tree positions to minimise the structural loading pressure points. The final composition presents a pleasant undulating landscape that reinforces the spatial definition of the garden rooms, conceals fence-less private podium courtyards, and accommodates generous tree canopies. Vertical green walls and trellis systems provide a multi layered landscape connecting the podium with green bands from street level. Strategically integrated planter boxes were positioned into large sculptural screen mesh facades concealing the above ground carparks. The planters accommodate a mix of climbing and trailing plant species that are gradually encapsulating the steel screen once again providing passive cooling to the carpark levels but also to the street below.

The Yards Project has been a refreshing example of how the successful collaboration of a united design team and builder can explore, investigate and deliver innovative design solutions that are seamless and not necessarily visible. Nevertheless this collaboration and mutual respect between disciplines has resulted in a project that has achieved all of the intended design vision and objectives.

Project location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Design year: 2013-2016
Year Built: 2017-2018


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