At Cairns Cityport Tract was given the opportunity to evolve our core plaza design to accommodate revisions to the Cairns Port Authorities operations and to sensitively rectify limitations in the original constructor’s non-conformance to Tract documents.
In our first commission Tract was fortunate to work in conjunction with Cox Rayner Architects to collaboratively design the landscape and urban works for their redevelopment of the Cairns Cityport.
The project is situated across a vast land holding fronting Trinity Inlet Marina, incorporating the Pier Shopping Centre and Hotel, and adjoining the Hilton, Fogarty Park and Cairns Esplanade. Comprising the Reef Fleet Plaza, Spence Street Extension and Bus Lay-By’s, Pier Carpark, Marina North, Cairns Yacht Club, and the Marlin Wharf Extension, Tract adopted a contextual design language to ensure that the Cityport environment’s character connected with the character of the Cairns Esplanade and CBD. Whilst evocative of the design principles and vegetation used on these projects the design language accommodated a degree of freedom in arrangement which has allowed the Cairns Cityport to develop an urban identity as a counterpoint to the Esplanade parklands and Fogarty Park.
Whilst adopting a holistic approach to the overall Cityport Precinct, the design focused upon Reef Fleet Plaza as a key note shared plaza functioning as the termination of Spence Street, the forecourt to the Reef Fleet Terminal, and the core congregation node for the Marlin Wharf and the Gateway to the Barrier Reef. The Reef Fleet Plaza is especially noteworthy as a core tenet of the design was the sharing of the plaza to maximize its usage given the disparate and diametrically different intensity of use through the course of the day and evening.
In the morning, veritable squadrons of buses arrive and disgorge their foreign armies to be received by an armada of vessels heading out on the Great Barrier Reef. People teem and stream through the plaza but are quickly gone – the entire plaza is a full to the brim and then empty. Through the course of the day small clusters of tourists gather in the plaza and relax on the grass beneath the Foxtail Palms and Barringtonia Groves drinking the expansive surrounding vista of Marina and Trinity Inlet. By evening the Great Barrier Reef navy arrives and the vast bustling throng decants and descends upon the Plaza, once again making a bee-line for the buses and Esplanade – once again it is a clamoring mass of humanity and once again they are so quickly gone.
All the while as the drama of these aforementioned events plays out, buses and taxis slowly and intuitively mingle with local and foreigners alike in a synergistic dance which for its first 6 years of use was a shared success. However the insidious creep of granite pavers laid on an unspecified and unapproved adhesive departing from our specification was working its mischief and as pavers started to burr and lip the Cairns Port Authority embarked upon a coincidental but cleverly opportunistic review of their operational procedures. The decision was reached to captilise upon the contractors obligations for pavement repair by evolving the plaza to accommodate a revised lay-by arrangements and security upgrades.
This series of events collided and conspired to deliver Tract with a second commission to re-work and foreshorten the Reef Fleet Plaza vehicle zones to accommodate revised Security and Bus Movements responsive to Cairns Port Authorities operational procedures, the evolution of charter boat methods of schedules of operation, and to construction non-conformance to design documentation.