BRISBANE 2032 OPPORTUNITIES FOR AN OLYMPIC LEGACY. Article 9: The City Region of South East Queensland – Proposals for an Olympic Legacy


In the final article in this series on Brisbane 2032, an Olympic Legacy, from the Urban Design Alliance, Queensland, Australia (UDAL), we offer a framework and strategy to help guide, plan, design, develop and build an ongoing legacy for Brisbane up to an beyond 2032. We propose these under the headings of connectiveness, arrival, landscapes, industry and work, the arts and culture, cultural production, tourism, mixed use urban design, urban vitality and the public realm.

About the Authors

John Montgomery is an urban and regional planner, urban economist and strategic designer. He is Executive Officer for the Urban Design Alliance, Queensland, Australia (UDAL). Contact:

Kathi Holt is an architect, urban designer and city strategist and President of UDAL. She is in addition Executive Director of the research and consulting practice NERO HOLT. Contact:

Both authors have consulted and worked internationally in these fields.


As argued in Article 8 on City Regions, dynamic economies are based in real places – cities and regions and connected towns. Economic growth and wealth creation depend on a process of continual innovation and improvisation, so that successful economies are open-ended rather than goal-oriented. Growth depends on trade, exports and inter-trading. Small businesses and start-ups are often key sites of innovation and thus a source of new work. Some of them will trade in the lead industries of the day, but others will find a niche supplying goods and services to local, regional and national markets. A few will export overseas. Successful regions, city regions, cities, towns and small cities will thus have core specialisms, reasonably diverse economies and some level of higher value production in goods they export to other places. Advanced communications technologies will of course play a role, but so too will the less glamorous infrastructures like rail and road freight. If such towns and cities retain or attract the footloose self-employed, then chances are local shops and restaurants will also benefit.

South-East Queensland is a city region, economically, culturally and spatially, a series of connected places and business locations. This is key to the planning for the Olympic Games and associated infrastructure and new development. There are also now economic development and investment plans for the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast/Moreton Bay and Logan/Ipswich, plus Springfield as locations for investment, businesses and jobs. What form does this take spatially?

The Spatial Plan for the City of Copenhagen and Region. Is there a version of this for Brisbane?

Against this backdrop, we can understand and map the current regional plans for SEQ and its constituent parts.  We are able to trace and map connections and complementarities, proposed Olympic Games’ investments and suggest additional development and other projects, for example in the arts, tourism, industry locations or place-making. There will be more development and more planning as SEQ moves into its next phase of growth, development and prosperity.  Spatial planning is the very stuff of landscapes and places, environments, history and cultural life.

A first step for The Urban Design Alliance, Queensland (UDAL) was to identify, confirm and map the locations for the hosting of the 2032 Olympic Games. Much use will be made of existing sports stadia, but other buildings are proposed to be used or re-used, for example the Gabba, and/or built anew. There will also need to be accommodation for the competitors, officials and media. One question, then, is where all of this should be located, how the various areas and nodes connect and how they are accessed.

Proposed locations for the Olympic Games Events 2032: South East Queensland Olympic Events and Venues

A further step is to identify new developments, complementary activities and investment opportunities that may be desirable and feasible. These might include leisure activities, cultural facilities, commerce and employment, residential areas, transport routes and services, and mixed-use development. In other words: economic development, culture and place.  Of particular interest for UDAL, the Urban Design Alliance, are matters concerning:

  • New housing, both market priced and affordable
  • Mixed-use places and ‘place-making’
  • The formal arts, venues, concert halls, galleries and theatres
  • Cultural production, which is to say workspaces, studios, workshops and buildings where artefacts and services are designed and made
  • Health and well-being, notably in relation to walkable neighbourhoods and precincts
  • The urban public realm.

An urban design approach thus focuses on things like:

  • Layout and density of new developments
  • Connections to existing and new areas
  • Working with landscapes and topogography
  • Places and precincts where there are concentrations of activity and especially mixed use – ‘Activity Nodes’
  • Mixed use to include business activities, employment, consumption activities, the arts, hospitality, retailing and offices; the precise mix will vary from place to place
  • Building layouts to be organized around networks of walkable streets, alleys and public spaces streets
  • Parks are part of the public realm but deserve separate consideration
  • Social facilities such as schools, health centres and public halls.

This is no easy task, although it is not impossible. Programmes and projects will need to be devised soon and followed through with adjustments and additions over the next eight years. At this early stage UDAL presents its ideas and proposal  as a 10 Point Plan, a strategy with 10 lines of action.

A 10 Point Plan for Brisbane and South East Queensland

A 10-point plan for the development of an Olympic Games legacy is proposed. As well as the directly Games related investments, attention should ideally be focused on new work areas, improved and new cultural and community spaces, mixed use areas, leisure activities (active and passive), improved public spaces and parks, new housing, and connecting transport networks. These include:

1. Connected Places: A city region defined by growth nodes, a settlement pattern, protected landscapes and development areas. This would see SEQ as a region of connected cities and other places: a place of many places.

2. Arrival: Upgrading and/or improving the railway system, promoting SEQ as a 45-minute region (travel time to Brisbane from the other larger settlements). Railway stations are very important arrival points, stressing welcoming and identity at these, the airports and bus stations. Roads – there will likely be a need for some additional investment but this is probably not the most pressing issue.

King’s Cross Station, London: A much improved sense of arrival. The station linked directly to Stratford and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

3. Landscapes: Connecting to (and protecting) landscapes, using and working with the region’s topography:

  • The sea
  • The coast
  • The river
  • Parks and forests
  • Landscape features
  • Agricultural land
  • History and heritage
  • Dream-lines.

4. Centres of Production and Industry: Existing employment areas, proposed new industry parks and precincts, new industries?

New industry in the South East of England: One of several technology and bio-med parks around Oxford.

5. The Arts (consumption): Using venues and new or expanded venues as catalysts for place-making and in attracting visitors, and to expand culture in the region.

In the planning since 1995/6, opened 2004, the Sage Concert Hall at Gateshead.

6. Cultural Production and Making (city and regional): The creative industries, the plastic arts, contemporary crafts. It is proposed that the media centre should morph into a mixed residential and creative industries precinct or centre. Other ‘creative maker precincts should be identified, beginning with Bowen Hills, but also perhaps the Gabba.

7. Tourism: A source of export dollars and jobs. New tourist areas and attractions: where will these be located? And how to enhance existing tourism destinations?

8. Mixed Use by Design: Places should as far as reasonable be mixed use, promoting vitality and public social life at an urban and walkable scale. This should include the athletes’ village and any new sporting venues.

9. Urban Vitality: This should include the nighttime economy, café culture and hospitality as appropriate, lending a sense of cosmopolitanism. Temple Bar is a good example.

10. Public Realm: Establishing a strategy and programme to create, reclaim, improve, say, 100 public spaces, for gathering and as outdoor rooms,


Concluding Remarks: A City Region of Connected Places?

A city like Brisbane has a close inter-relationship with surrounding areas. This includes agriculture, recreation, food, goods and drinks, and an increasingly complex city region economy. South-East Queensland is a city region, economically, culturally and spatially, a series of connected places and business locations. It is becoming more complex and interrelated as a regional economy, and this will continue. Here we can point to complex city regions such as London and the Southeast (indeed the South) of England, Milan, Copenhagen and Prague. This ought to be a key consideration in the planning for the Olympic Games and associated infrastructure and new development.

What is being proposed here is an approach to regional planning that combines economic development, a settlement pattern, areas protected from development, urban design, precincts and places, a much improved public realm in all built areas, better and more active streets, culture and the arts, the design and creative industries.

The baseline for this exists in the form of the SEQRP of 2009, but this will need updated and amended. This will require to be informed by analyses of economic development, sectors of the economy, cultural life, social life, leisure and recreation and transport. This is quite an undertaking, but then so too was the regeneration of the East End of London and the remaking of Barcelona.


Special thanks to our invited speakers: Lindy Johnson, Claire Sourgnes, Matthew Miller, Catherin Bull, Paul Burton, Jaime Traspaderne and Peter Richards; and the co-authors of the articles published: Mel Jones, Craig Addley and and Claire Sourgnes.

Thanks too, to our Charrette Leaders: Ritva Vilppola, Mel Jones, Catherine Chatburn, Jamie Traspaderne, Mirko Gauraldo and Peter Browning. The event would be incomplete without Peter Richards’ beautiful drawing of the charrette site at Bowen Hills – The Royal Agricultural Showgrounds.

The events would not have been possible without our valued sponsors:  ARUP, Studio THI (The Hornery Institute), and Artisan; and to Lend Lease for providing the 6-Green star timber-engineered venue, and the King Street caterers for supplying the delicious lunches and dinner.

The UDAL Board would like to thank everyone who came along over the two days, including urban design, planning and architecture students from Bond University, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland.

We are indebted to Raeburn Chapman, Editor of the Urban Design Review, for his critical contribution to the final editing, selection of illustrations and for publishing this series of articles.

Kathi Holt and John Montgomery

On behalf of the Urban Design Alliance (UDAL).

27 October, 2022