Gold Coast Landscape Character Study

Aerial photo of a section of the gold coast

Queensland’s iconic Gold Coast has a distinctive sense of place which forms its unique identity and character. Gold Coast City Council required an integrated character and heritage study to inform future planning decisions to protect and enhance the city’s identity and image, its landscape attributes and the significant heritage value of this rapidly growing lifestyle and tourism destination.

Recognising our experience in regional-scale landscape evaluation, the council turned to Cardno. Utilising our in-house landscape architecture and planning expertise, alongside external heritage experts, we adapted internationally-recognised character categories to develop an innovative framework for identifying and mapping landscape and heritage values at all scales across the entire city and applied this to four focus areas at a local level.

Our work represents a genuinely fresh approach to the field of landscape character and heritage evaluation as well as mapping and urban design recommendations for local government planning. Traditionally, character assessments evaluate urban areas differently than country areas, assess ‘static’ character at a point of time and address heritage narratives separately from landscape character and scenery.

These approaches, however, were considered inappropriate because the city has a linear form, with a distinctive high-rise spine along the beachfront, and it’s the diversity and dynamic interplay of urban and natural forms, together with the local history and culture, which make the Gold Coast unique.

Landscape types, features and narratives which define the Gold Coast’s inimitable character and history were identified, classified, evaluated and mapped, focusing on what makes these places recognisable, liveable and ‘special’. The study also integrated planning and design guidelines to retain or adapt significant elements, contributing to the council’s ability to plan and manage growth, while protecting and enhancing the community’s sense of place.

We were recognised for our work, the study was awarded for its innovative methodology which is scalable and capable of further applications.

Gold Coast Landscape Character Study Awards

  • 2014: Commendation for best planning ideas in the 2014 Planning Institute of Australia Awards
  • 2015: Award for Excellene for Planning in Landscape Architecture in the Australia Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Queensland Awards of Excellence
  • 2017: Commendation of Excellence (Urban Design) in the 2018 Queensland Deputy Premier's Awards.