Rethinking Development As Queensland Recovers From Floods

Drastic flooding inundated Queensland, Australia, and damaged many of the city's buildings. As recovery begins, some are rethinking the city's development patterns.
March 10, 2011, 9am PST | Nate Berg
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Despite obvious mistakes of the past, floodplain development continues.

"The larger issue is, perhaps, whether investors will be keen to finance rebuilding projects without some certainty that future floods can be prevented. The last major flood in Queensland, which occurred in Brisbane in 1974, resulted in the construction of the Wivenhoe Dam on the Brisbane River, but it did not lead to regulation regarding construction in flood-prone areas.

Making matters worse, new residential construction in vulnerable areas is ill equipped to handle flooding. While the traditional "Queenslander" home was made of timber with a raised first floor perched on poles like a stilt house, new homes often are slab-on-grade, timber-framed or brick structures. Moreover, many owners of Queenslander houses have built out the open area beneath the raised first floor to increase interior space, notes Lindsay Clare, an architect from Queensland who now practices in Melbourne. "If you fill them in," he says, "the water is going to put more pressure on the structure and you'll see more damage." "

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Published on Monday, March 7, 2011 in Architectural Record
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