Ekka Plaza

Location: Brisbane, Australia

The visually-striking ‘Ekka’ Plaza was the first key public space to be delivered as part the Brisbane Showground’s rejuvenation. The new plaza delivers a much-needed and contemporary open space for the local community, and acts as the front door to the new Royal International Convention Centre (RICC). Officially opened during the 2013 Ekka (Royal Queensland) Show, The Plaza’s flexible design supports a variety of exhibitions and events.

Matthew Nolan, Associate Director at Lat27, worked closely on the conception and design of The Plaza. He says, “The redevelopment of the Brisbane Showgrounds was a key urban renewal opportunity for Brisbane, creating a new mixed use urban centre just north-east of the CBD. Lat27 was commissioned to prepare the landscape master plan for the public realm, supporting a submission to the Urban Land Development Authority (ULDA). The project presented the opportunity to reveal the historic narrative of a site traditionally only accessible during show times and to integrate it into its surrounding context.

“The inclusion of significant trees was critical to the success of the new plaza for shade and balancing the scale of the space. However, the project brief to provide multi-purpose, high-loading hardstand for event modes, circulation routes, and changing levels across the site meant we were unable to have broad expanses of open deep planting. High rock shelves and multiple service infrastructures added further restrictions on below surface designs.

“During the design phase, development assessments between traditional structural soil trenches and tree pits with Stratacell were carried out in regards to achieving the required soil volumes versus the costs of excavating the surrounding rock, providing the 40t pavement capacities, and construction programing. At this point, we consulted GreenBlue partner company Citygreen to review options for soil pits and tree grate integration. Stratacell was the clear choice for its horticultural benefits and economic efficiencies.

“The final design consisted of StrataCell Series 30 cells in 3x3m (wide) x 2m (deep) tree pits excavated into varying densities of rock. Into the tree pits, we planted nine advanced (6 – 8 metre) Elaeocarpus Grandis, which make a striking visual statement. Irrigation was imperative to the trees’ success, so the bases of the tree pits were interconnected with subsurface drainage lines back to the stormwater system.

“Two years down the track, the use of the StrataCells has achieved notable good health and vigour for the trees, while surrounding pavements have remained completely stable through multiple events including two Ekka Shows.

For more information on this project, contact our Australia partner, Citygreen.