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How just getting along better together can help define Brisbane’s Olympic legacy

One of Queensland’s most prominent architects has called on all levels of government to realise the importance of collaboration and creativity to a successful 2032 Olympics.

Sep 28, 2022, updated Sep 28, 2022
Liam Proberts' firm Bureau^proberts was recently awarded a Good Design Gold Award for the Australian Pavilion, designed for Expo 2020 held in Dubai from October, 2021 to March 2022

Liam Proberts' firm Bureau^proberts was recently awarded a Good Design Gold Award for the Australian Pavilion, designed for Expo 2020 held in Dubai from October, 2021 to March 2022

Liam Proberts, whose firm designed the spectacular Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, said the opportunity created by the Olympics could “supercharge” Brisbane’s creative ambition.

He said the city’s last once-in-a-generation design opportunity, Expo 88, unleashed a spirit of collaboration from which all of southeast Queensland benefitted.

“Time is marching on and when you are doing significant projects it’s more about the positive nature of the opportunity and making sure we do all we can to harness it,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re doing anything wrong but I’m wanting to remind all of us that these opportunities don’t come along very often.”

Leading Queensland architect Liam Proberts. (Image: Supplied).

Proberts cited the design and positioning of the diving pool at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 – with its views of Sagrada Familia and the region’s mountain ranges – as an example of how a creative mindset can add untold value to how a city’s character is viewed by the rest of the world.

“Expo 88 became a catalyst for the city and that will be close to 40 years ago. It was a generational event and what it did was emblematic of Queensland. It was really an event that was very Brisbane and very Queensland,” he said.

He said if those organising the Olympics and building its infrastructure embraced the mindset of those responsible for Expo 88 the city would maximise the benefit from the Olympics.

“We’ve got a great state, particularly in southeast Queensland with our subtropical climate, beaches, mountains – we’ve got the whole lot. If we embrace that and make something that’s very Queensland it’s just going to supercharge the city’s identity.

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“When you collaborate between planners, architects, artists, developers, administrators and you’re all heading in the same direction really good things happen. That’s just how collaboration and creativity works.

“The Olympics will bring legislation that opens doors for developments and initiatives that might not otherwise happen. It’s a chance to fast-track ideas and deliver cultural, social and economic benefits for decades to come.

“Now is the time because we’re 10 years out. The last two years have been particularly tough with the pandemic. Stuff gets put on hold but significant construction projects don’t happen overnight and the planning and design process is like the old saying – measure twice, cut once.”

He said the make-up of the Brisbane Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) and other groups set up to consider the legacy of the Games showed things were “going in a good direction”, particularly when it came to collaboration between the federal, state and local governments.

“It’s almost as if there is a space in the middle where all three levels work together to allow stuff to happen.”

The traditional and necessary “layers” that existed between governments had to be brought together to ensure catalyst projects associated with the Olympics could be properly tested and fast tracked, Proberts said.

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