Wolter Consulting Group are very excited to welcome Penny Spiers to their Design team. A Landscape Architect with over 20 years of experience and having led many complex projects for public and private sector clients, Penny's work portfolio includes parks, open spaces, urban and commercial centres, educational facilities and more. Below, Penny shares some of her thoughts and vision for Brisbane as the home for Olympic Games 2032.
I am very excited to join the professional team at Wolter Consulting Group (WCG), to capitalise on our breadth of services in design, planning, surveying, environment and sustainability, and to help shape the vision and direction for the Company as our City equips itself for the 2032 Olympic Games and anticipated growth. It is great to be part of a home grown, Brisbane firm that is perfectly positioned share the transformation of the region over the next decade.
We understand, that whilst existing sporting facilities will be utilised for the games, probably all of these venues will receive upgrades in some way. Coupled with investment in new projects that will have long term benefits to the burgeoning SEQ region, we expect to see some exciting, city shaping projects emerge across South East Queensland and flowing into regional areas in the ten years.
This will translate into both investment in much needed transit projects for the region as well as other significant recreation infrastructure to service our growing population, provide employment, and attract tourism, events and investment. Tangential projects will emerge, such as local centre and streetscape upgrades, new or refurbished parks and public realm and improvement projects that focus on key tourist destinations and areas with high visitation, as well as amenity, social and retail spaces that align with transport nodes.
Our property markets will be positively influenced by the Olympics, buoyed by better transport options and increased housing demand for workers (during construction), investors and residents, again most likely in the areas where key projects are earmarked – Woolloongabba, Robina, Maroochydore and Northshore Hamilton – the sites of the Olympic Villages.
Currently, Southeast Queensland’s commuter rail options are very limited. A trip to the Gold or Sunshine Coast via train, or further beyond is unviable, or non-existent. We hope to see some targeted spending on the rail system in our region, encouraging people to shift their travel patterns to sustainable public transport modes, ideally via a new high speed rail system. Businesses in Brisbane are already operating across the region, and workers are mostly in their cars, trying desperately to avoid the M1 gridlock. We need rail transport that is frequent, affordable, efficient and connects key centres up and down the coast; not wider freeways that serve only to induce more car trips, exacerbating an existing problem.
Every new transit project – road, rail, light rail or otherwise – must, in parallel, incorporate generous pathways for cyclists and pedestrians. It is an opportunity that we may never have again to map out some well-conceived regional bicycle routes that link the Coasts to Brisbane and beyond. The demand exists for better connected, safer, dedicated bikeways for commuters; these routes would also attract bikepacking / bike touring.
Our combined expertise in design, planning and environment coupled with our 3D Visualisation capability, puts Wolter Consulting in the great position to assist with the assessment and evaluation of specific sites or corridor alignments against ecological parameters and legislative requirements. Our ongoing and past work on a number of Rail Trails and significant infrastructure projects such as the NBN rollout, have demonstrated how these amalgamated services enable effective design solutions, with economic and social benefits.
Sports Facilities and More
There will be 21 Olympic venues in Brisbane, seven on the Gold Coast and four on the Sunshine Coast, while the football tournament will be played in Cairns, Townsville, Toowoomba, as well as Sydney and Melbourne. This will translate to unprecedented (nice to use that word not in association with COVID-19) spending on sporting, recreation, transit and other infrastructure throughout the Southeast Queensland region. All projects will involve not only the construction or renovation of specific sports and spectator facilities, but significant peripheral works to the public realm and landscape.
Stadiums will be transformed across the region, with a number of new and rebuilt venues in the pipeline. The Gabba will be a crucial venue, hosting athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies. With a $1 billion price tag, and increased capacity of 50,000, nearby parkland will also be developed for warm-up areas and a proposed pedestrian plaza will link the stadium to the new Cross River Rail station.
The Brisbane Live Arena, to be constructed above the new Roma St underground station, will comprise a 17,000 capacity sports and entertainment venue, potentially opening as early as 2024. We look forward to seeing this area transformed into a pedestrian friendly, sophisticated public realm at the heart of our City. Other new city venues include the Brisbane Indoor Sports Centre proposed for Herston (basketball) and BMX and equestrian facilities within the Victoria Park site.
It’s also exciting to see a new whitewater centre proposed for the Redlands (Birkdale), a new Indoor Sport Centre at Petrie (The Mill) in Moreton Bay, expansion to Chandler and the new Ipswich Stadium at Springfield (under construction). Not only will this entail the specific sports and spectator seating elements, but the peripheral public realm areas will be enhanced, to the benefit of the community.
Already a growing local market, accelerated by COVID-19 repositioning our focus on local experiences or those within our State, we see Queensland perfectly positioned in the recreation tourism market. An emerging trend in tourism in Australia, although an aspiration many people already identify with, is our attraction to remote destinations, wide open space and natural areas. The Olympics will fuel this trend, bringing new audiences into Queensland.
The subtropical and tropical climates of Queensland are conducive to being outdoors (all year round), and we have a plethora of natural assets that will be a drawcard for visitors. Pristine beaches, wonderful coastlines, The Reef and island destinations, and riverine environments; National Parks and Reserves; and mountainous landscapes are all accessible within a close radius from Brisbane City, or other major centres throughout the State.
Our staff at Wolters have had the opportunity to both work in these natural areas on a range of projects, including multi-use trails in National Parks and designing and delivering a series of Rail Trail projects, as well as experiencing them first hand. A dedicated health and wellness program that helps to keep our staff engaged in an active and healthy lifestyle is driven by the team and widely prescribed. Collectively, we a bushwalkers, mountain bikers, swimmers, explorers, nature appreciators, trail runners and of course, protectors of our natural areas. We participate and partner with local organisations that support the recreation tourism industry, so we can understand the user groups to deliver what meets their needs.
The Authentically “Green” Games
Given the Olympic bid was founded on a sustainable approach, we expect there will be more accountability, where governments and developers will be required to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable design and construction practices. WCG is perfectly positioned to assist our clients with this process. Not only do we have the expertise of our specialist Environment and Sustainability team, but a sustainable ethos is inherent in the company.
Every design project is reviewed with a sustainability lens as part of our quality control. It is instilled in the design process, which then translates to the built product and we truly believe this should be normal practice for landscape architects and designers into the future. For us, sustainability is not a buzzword, it is an authentic principle that we strive for. On the right project, with a supportive client, the outcomes can be remarkable.
More about Penny:
Penny is a Registered Landscape Architect with over 20 years’ experience leading complex projects for both public and private sector clients. Her knowledge and creativity combined with an attention to detail, excellent communication and collaboration skills, means she can operate across all project phases from strategic design, master planning and conceptual design, to detailed design, contract documentation, technical specifications and construction services.
Her breadth of experience extends from parks and open spaces, urban and commercial centres, residential subdivisions, schools and educational facilities, health and aged care, sport and recreation facilities, playgrounds and play spaces, environmental and rehabilitation areas. She has produced a number of placemaking strategies and led a range of community and stakeholder consultation activities.
Penny is the new Director of Landscape Architecture at Wolter Consulting Group. Previously she worked as a Landscape Architect (Design Principal) with Place Design Group and prior, a Landscape Architect with Gamble McKinnon Green.
- Public Open Space - recreation parkland, playgrounds, corridor and linear open space
- Civic and Public Realm - civic spaces, plazas, town squares, placemaking and activation
- Health - acute and sub-acute mental health, hospitals, allied health centres
- Aged Care - dementia, residential aged care, independent living
- Community Living / Lifestyle - retirement communities, vertical retirement, independent living
- Education and Learning - tertiary, secondary, primary education facilities, campus design
- Sport and Recreation - sporting and recreation precincts, fitness / health, trails (multi-use, MTB)