Brisbane is fast becoming a new world city. As it diversifies beyond a night time economy, the need to connect Brisbane’s precincts and unite the central suburbs will be more important than ever. Looking to the future, there are boundless opportunities to harness existing natural energy to ‘plug-in’ to the urban ecosystem. Photosynthesis in the Digital Age connects Fortitude Valley to the CBD through an Urban Ribbon which incorporates four key themes of this year’s ULI Competition; connected, urban, active and sub-tropical
The Urban Ribbon breathes life through the city meandering around Centenary Place and providing a much needed connection between the CBD and Fortitude Valley. The design acts as an attractive and iconic way-finding structure which guides pedestrians and cyclists through the precincts, allowing them to ‘plug in’ along the way. The design takes on a new dimension through digital connection including wifi-enabled totems and charging docks providing functional work spaces. These break-out follies encourage people to connect not only to the digital world but also to nature.
As the Urban Ribbon weaves through the city, it integrates into the local context, always relating to the natural environment and the human scale. The materiality is contextual and multi-sensory, reflecting Brisbane’s climate and relationship to the water. The structure will ‘plug in’ to existing pedestrian and road infrastructure, creating a truly integrated transport network. The structure can be rolled out on various scales to fit with existing urban regeneration projects. A staged implementation approach is encouraged to allow for prototypes to be tested and improved. The Urban Ribbon absorbs the rhythm and energy of the city, transforming its function depending on the time of day. This allows it to contribute to, and enhance the night time economy.
Gentle level modulations throughout the structure encourage users to experience the Urban Ribbon in different ways. The break-out follies, such as the amphitheatre, allow for both passive and active engagement with the surrounding built form and Centenary Place. The in-built solar panels, integrated into the totems, harness solar energy which power the lights, ‘plug-in’ stations and digital displays. The generous width of the structure provides ample room for cyclists, pedestrians and other modes of active transportation.
The Urban Ribbon harnesses natural processes which tap into solar and hydro energy. It is an interactive green spine that incorporates both horizontal and vertical greenery. Rainwater storage tanks and a drip systems integrated into the follies, capture overflow and rainfall. This water is then pumped beneath the structure providing sustenance to surrounding vegetation. Vegetated follies provide space for passive recreation and reduce the urban heat island effect while curved canopies provide further shade relief and additional space for urban greenery.