Southport Broadwater Parklands Northern Precinct

Queensland, Australia

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Southport Broadwater Parklands is the Gold Coast’s premier open space and is of regional importance. The Parklands host several major events celebrating the city’s enviable coastal landscape and embracing its active and healthy lifestyle. The continued investment in delivering the long-standing SBP Masterplan responds to the community’s needs. The Northern Precinct has been developed over several stages. It includes key strategic activities such as land reclamation, boating facilities, buildings, aquatic centre refurbishment, playgrounds and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games overlay. The Parklands remain a highly successful investment for the city and its people.- Cassandra Denney Greenheart Design and Planning Coordinator Parks & Recreational Services City of Gold Coast.

The Southport Broadwater Parklands Northern Precinct encompasses the works across stages 3 & 4 (progressively delivered from 2013 to 2023), reinforcing council’s commitment to delivering the SBP Masterplan legacy. The works covered land reclamation to support the new recreational boating facilities, enhanced with multi-use community facilities and extensive open space amenities including large-scale event lawn, outdoor educational facilities (to complement the innovative constructed mangrove stormwater treatment system) as well as delivery of the major destination playground works. The project delivers significant complementary community uses to the wider parklands and increases areas of activation across the entire 2.5km foreshore.

Role description

The client and design team have been closely aligned through each phase of the project, allowing consistency in design approach and clear knowledge transfer to de-risk the project. As part of the project several vital partnerships exist, including:

  • The Parklands management team engaged with key stakeholders including local clubs, on-site operators, business and event users such as the Gold Coast Marathon.
  • In stage 3 works, CoGC engaged with local artist Lisa Sorbie Martin to develop a range of interpretive and educational works associated with the mangrove wetland.
  • As part of stage 4 works, the project team engaged with Gold Coast families with children with a disability to incorporate inclusive design principles and accessible play features.

Key achievements

The delivery of the Southport Broadwater Parklands (SBP) Northern Precinct underpins Council’s strategic vision to deliver on the long-running, successful SBP Masterplan for the benefit of the city and region. The project strategy includes:

  • Purposefully advancing the Masterplan, delivering important community benefits and city legacy through a world-class public open space.
  • Delivery of a vibrant, multi-faceted project which seeks to achieve best-in-class outcomes in terms of environment, sustainability and community facilities.
  • A place that contributes to the city’s active outdoor lifestyle and celebrates our environment.

Innovations and value-adding lessons

As a landscape-led project, the Landscape Architect has taken a central role within the project team to establish a bold vision, challenge the approach and nurture exemplary project outcomes. The design team worked closely with a wide range of technical specialists to unlock the project’s environmental, sustainability and community outcomes.

Environment, social & government achievements

Through the phased delivery of the project, the team has delivered a range of community social and health outcomes which include:

  • An integrated play space with a focus on participation of all abilities, cultural backgrounds and ages in active and positive social interactions.
  • Improved community health outcomes through provision of high-quality open space promoting active lifestyles and physical and mental health benefits.
  • Delivery of a public space of regional scale which is safe, accessible and equitable to all, including users of diverse needs and people of non-English speaking backgrounds and users of all ages.
  • Delivers important boat launch facilities for the wider city which include accessibility features.
  • Educational opportunities through the mangrove wetland outdoor classroom and interpretive signage.
  • Multi-use facilities cater for activities like yoga, fitness/dancing, weddings, clubs and other hireable event uses. The event lawn caters for large temporary events and community markets.


The works delivered within the Northern Precinct align to the SBP Masterplan around maximising sustainability initiatives, including:

  • The buildings employ various EDS approaches including natural ventilation, captured rainwater reuse and considered materiality. The outdoor classroom is a lightweight timber structure sensitively sited.
  • The project uses recycled water for irrigation of event lawns. Planting consists of endemic and coastal species which are self-sustaining.
  • Project works undertook 7,300m2 of seagrass translocation before land reclamation (double the amount impacted).
  • 2Ha constructed mangrove wetland treats Southport CBD stormwater, further offsets marine vegetation loss and provides critical ecological and habitat outcomes.
  • The park includes 700l/m of reprofiled beach including dune planting works and fencing to manage sand loss and reduce channel dredging.
  • The project has progressively installed over 230 new trees.
  • WSUD treatment devices are used in carparking areas to treat stormwater prior to discharge to the Broadwater.
  • Parklands include solar and wind-powered lighting and electric car charging stations.


As a parkland of regional status, Broadwater Parklands delivers key public space outcomes to local, regional and international users who frequent Southport. The Northern Precinct further supports this through major drivers including the Fisherman’s event lawn, a major playground, the boat ramp and other multi-use facilities.

Key benefits of the project include:

  • Improving tourism attractiveness, increasing duration of stays, repeat visitation and elevated spending.
  • A range of complementary commercial opportunities including small and large event overlays which provide important economic grounding.
  • Increased community use and activation across a wide user demographic is reinforced through the broad range of regular community events.
  • The recently completed playground was attended by over 5000 people at the opening.
  • The Northern Precinct has become the most frequently booked space with 310,000 visitors to the Parklands during August (the largest number of monthly visitors for 2022).

Digital solutions

Working in collaboration with the specialist contractor Fleetwood Urban to create the fully custom main play tower in 3D, allowed Aecom to deliver additional benefits beyond the brief. Right from the initial concept design, Fleetwood Urban were a part of the design team, starting in sketchup and then moving into Revit as Fleetwood Urban were then engaged via AECOM to complete the detailed engineering, fabrication documentation for the works. The development of the works as a ‘real’ 3D element allowed high level of engagement during design development with the playground safety certifier, client and other specialists to understand the project. This was a key activity to allow Safety in design, constructability, play safety and other required review activities to occur.
Furthermore the high degree of 3D modelling allowed the preparation of realistic photorealistic perspectives which the client could release to public and had high level of confidence that the design matched the realities of the project works. Other digital solutions of the play attraction included the following:

  • The project design team included from concept design the inclusion of specialist placemaking and artist specialists to allow development and testing of custom elements like bronze and concrete sculptures and other bespoke items which were further developed through prototyping, shop drawing and manufacture during the construction phase. This de-risked for the client the outcome of these works.
  • Lighting and effect controls for the main tower include remote / digital interface to allow the client to change light sequencing and theming.
  • A number of sustainability/esd efforts are included like solar lighting, efficient LED lighting systems, reuse of site won materials, use of native and endemic planting species
  • project has a social and environmental focus around protection and management of the broadwater environment, referencing important migratory birds which breed in the RAMSAR listed Broadwater area, the human and pollution linkages included through the project as key areas for kids and families to talk and engage with around ‘our impact’ on the Broadwater environment
  • playground approach includes a wide range of all-abilities / disability / inclusive considerations to ensure an inclusive play space was delivered to suit the needs of all users