ASPECT Studios proposes a Brisbane River Rethink

What would it mean for Brisbane to embrace its principal waterway? What if it was a platform for social and cultural life? Or the spine of a reimagined transport network? And what if the river’s importance to Traditional Owners were used to inform broader planning around the river? 

These questions were asked by a new study by ASPECT Studios’ Brisbane team, assembled as preparations for the 2032 Olympics begin.  

“We think that the river is the key to a lot of the challenges that Brisbane faces. As the Olympics approach, we have a really rare opportunity to redefine Brisbane in a unique and highly sustainable way. We hope this plan stimulates conversation about how that might happen.” 

Katherine English, ASPECT Studios’ Brisbane Studio Director

The three-stage proposition contains a scheme for understanding, and capturing, the true value of the Brisbane River. Among the ideas put forward are the transformation of the river into the core of the active and public transport network to better and more sustainably connect a burgeoning urban population. 

The plan also calls for Brisbanites to be reconnected to the water. Currently, there are few opportunities to engage with the river. In the most egregious instance, the Riverside Expressway divorces pedestrians in the city centre from the water entirely. The plan identifies strategic opportunities for a chain of new public spaces along the riverbank, reclaiming old industrial spaces to enlarge green space. 

Lastly, the Brisbane River Rethink plan proposes that the river be the central element of a push to repair Brisbane’s natural systems. The new parks, for instance, could be designed to flood and transform into ponds during periods of persistent rain – playing a pivotal role in mitigating flood risk. 

ASPECT Studios has provided more information about their Brisbane River Rethink proposal on their website

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at