Urban designer Nicholas Stevenson has won ULI Australia’s second annual Urban Innovation Ideas Competition, focused this year on an undeveloped, transitional area between two established precincts in Brisbane. Stevenson’s entry, titled “the City Stitch,” proposes a multilayered, mixed-use development with ample open space, parks, and plazas, capitalizing on Brisbane’s tropical climate and landscape, as well as its status as an emerging global city.
The proposal markets the City Stitch as an “urban forest” that is “overgrowing with public life.” Gleaming towers that house a mix of apartments, coworking spaces, traditional offices, hotel rooms, and eateries are nestled among lush ground-floor parks, foot paths, and landscapes. Also included are an elevated landscaped web called the Liana, and a sky park with views of Brisbane and Mount Coot-tha that offers a retreat from the hubbub below. The proposal blends the natural and built environments in a way that feels seamless and balanced. While the development provides 3.6 million square feet (330,000 sq m) of gross floor area, the proposal also increases green open space in the area by 200 percent.
Stevenson’s plan proposes infill development in an area that is currently nondescript and inactive. The space between Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s nightlife and entertainment district, and the city’s central business district is one of the many interfaces between established precincts that the competition aimed to address.
“The area represented more than just a space in transition, but a significant opportunity in its own right,” said Stevenson, an associate urban designer at Urbis. “Drawing upon Brisbane’s coming of age as a new world city, the competition was centered around breathing new life into an area in a truly subtropical environment. The City Stitch is a destination in its own right, with spaces for living, working, visiting, and collaborating—all the ingredients to bring these two precincts together.”
The Urban Innovation Ideas Competition, in its second year, focused on Brisbane, the third-most-populous city in Australia and the capital of Queensland. Last year, the competition solicited ideas for revitalizing George Street, a central commercial corridor in downtown Sydney where a new light-rail system is set to open.
“The competition has been a great experience,” Stevenson said. “It provided me a platform to pursue a design concept that I might not get to in the real world. It instilled in me a desire to think big, think differently, and push boundaries.”
Stevenson was given the honor on November 17 at a ceremony at Brisbane City Hall attended by Lord Mayor Graham Quick. David McCracken, head of the jury and ULI Australia executive director, noted that the City Stitch celebrates Brisbane’s subtropical climate and world-class amenities. The jury praised Stevenson’s proposal for its focus on the fundamentals of successful urbanism, delivered through bustling streets, living towers, elevated gardens, and higher densities.
“The aim of the competition was to encourage the creative talent of Brisbane’s emerging land use professionals and engage them in developing the future of our city,” McCracken said.
As winner of the competition, Stevenson will present the City Stitch at the 2017 ULI Asia Pacific Summit in Singapore in June. “To present at the ULI Asia Pacific Summit is something I’m very excited about,” he said. “It’s a fantastic component of the competitive prize. I can’t wait to share my ideas and mix with other property professionals.”