An airport hotel, a transport-oriented community and a walkable, tree-lined high street-style shopping strip – what should replace Toombul Shopping Centre? Brendan O’Malley from the Courier Mail set out to investigate options by interviewing the local state MP as well as a series of planning and business experts, including UQ|UP’s Dorina Pojani:
Dr Pojani questioned whether much of the site should be rebuilt at all. “As town planners we tend to think about building out, not up, but in a city like Brisbane, in places we know flood regularly, we need to ask if it is wise to keep rebuilding,’’ she said. “The shopping mall as a concept is also dying, there are plenty of examples in America where they are ghost towns. “The idea of a big box centre surrounded by parking is a 1950s model.’’ Dr Pojani said the modern trend was towards adaptive reuse, where buildings were designed so they could be repurposed much more easily to address societal and other changes. She said the pandemic showed how quickly change could make buildings outdated, such as Brisbane’s CBD office towers which had emptied as people chose to work from home. Dr Pojani said simply demolishing what was there would waste huge amounts of “embodied energy’’ in the Toombul structure. Instead, the site might be better rebuilt as a walkable, open retail strip like other traditional suburban high streets.
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