QUT Speculative Design Studio 'Saturated Terrains'
REALMstudios and Queensland University of Technology recently co-curated a speculative design studio in Brisbane with 2nd and 3rd year architecture and landscape architecture students in QUT’s School of Architecture and Built Environment. The two-week intensive studio, intended to foster collaboration between students and professional practice, was also supported by Brisbane City Council, JDA Architects, Bligh Tanner, Alluvium and Landscapology.
Led by REALMstudios’ research lead and QUT lecturer Dr. Dan Nyandega, the studio challenged the students to explore saturated terrains while balancing diverse considerations: environmental resilience, community evolution, biodiversity outcomes, the economics of urban development. The subject site for the investigations was the recently saturated terrains of Brisbane’s Kedron Brook and the adjacent Toombul Shopping Centre, boarded-up after the 2022 floods, now marked for demolition and future redevelopment.
Three distinct propositions emerged from the studio explorations:
Riding the Waves speculated on ways of designing and acting in uncertain futures through adaptability and inbuilt resilience. The project was framed by three key strategies: relinquishment and renewal, circular systems and landscape as memory.
Saturated Terraces aimed to reconnect the site and its surrounding community, reclaiming local land and creek ecosystems and transforming the site into a new community hub accommodating a complex mix of urban programs.
Floating Grounds recognises that the site remains a wet territory with varying degrees of saturation and inundation. The project embraces the presence of water in all its manifestations, rather than resisting its actions, exploring modes of co-existence between water, humans and natural systems. The project was driven by: the celebration of water, the layering of infrastructure, and the creative repurposing of spaces, materials and processes.
The results not only displayed nimble responses to constantly shifting conditions, but directly illustrated that facing our transformational challenges directly, but creatively, can point us towards a new future, in saturated terrains. Working in the context of climate and poly-crisis, the studio curation simulates bridging teaching, learning, practice and research, and suggested a deeper collaboration across disciplines.