Moving pontoons protect Brisbane ferry port

Night view of Brisbane ferry terminal

Aurecon has employed innovative moving architectural designs to provide protection to Brisbane ferry terminals from floating debris.

In association with Cox Architecture, global engineering and infrastructure advisory company 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 new Brisbane ferry terminals design is an example of the way moving architecture can be brought to life. Aurecon and Cox Architecture were the designers of this bold concept which is a significant shift away from convention in aesthetics, flood resilience and improving accessibility.

Dr Kourosh Kayvani of Aurecon says, “This is an exemple of the power of design where collaboration and inspiration from other fields leads to true innovation that delivers tremendous value for those affected by the project, whether they are ferry passengers needing to get to a destination or an owner/operator wanting to create resilient infrastructure.”

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 way of achieving compliant disabled access.

The terminals provide 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 ideas are complex in detail but simple in concept and we work closely with our architect partners to bring aesthetic and resilient products 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,” adds Nilsen.

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 its products are very different to those that other engineers have delivered elsewhere in the world”, said 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 160m.”

Huge, moving structures such as retractable stadium roofs require a unique integration of mechanical, electrical controls and structural 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 Nilsen.

“At the heart of our design is maintaining the vision of the architect, while creating a piece of infrastructure that is durable, easy to maintain and cost-efficient to operate.” concludes Nilsen.

See the video below for more information on how the structure works (video without sound)

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