QUT’s award winning Sportsfield Car Park – A case study in mixed-use design

Traffic congestion used to be a serious problem at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus, often extending beyond the campus to surrounding streets. This was exacerbated by customers circling the campus looking for spaces or queuing to enter a specific car park.

However, a new facility that comprises a three-storey mixed use building with a multi-story car park for 800 vehicles, end of ride facility for cyclists, an elevated sports field and teaching facilities, has managed to integrate the experience of activity and learning with an arrival sequence to energise and inspire.

The Sportsfield Car Park project is located on the northern side of the QUT Kelvin Grove campus and was necessitated through the need to provide more on campus parking for staff and students, improving vehicle circulation and the provision of sporting fields which were easier to maintain and more sustainable. The former on grade sporting field was prone to flooding, degraded playing surfaces during drought, weed invasion and erosion. The former sporting field lacked modern amenities such as home and away change rooms, spectator seating, secure equipment storage and quality teaching spaces.

Prior to this facility opening, there were 573 Pay on Exit car parks available to casual parkers. Once full the overflow extended onto nearby suburban streets much to the frustration of local residents. Many residents were in frequent contact with University expressing concerns about blocked driveways, inability to place rubbish bins on the kerb and perceived general disregard by those parking vehicles and the University.

Traffic access in and out of the campus was also poor, with two un-signalled exits, 100 metres apart, onto a busy two road lane. Not only was this undesirable from a safety viewpoint, but also resulted in lengthy delays exiting the campus during peak periods.

The new Sportsfield Car Park project resolved the traffic issues through road widening, a new signalised intersection and a new bicycle lane to provide safer movement for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists in and around the campus.  Once a motorist turns onto the campus, live digital car parking number signs are located prior to key decision points. This enables users to make early decisions when determining which of the three car parking facilities in the area will be most suitable. This signage is positioned prior to arrival at facility entry points to alleviate congestion and frustration if any car parking facilities are at maximum capacity.

The new facility incorporates a full-size FIFA accredited soccer field, an 80m long synthetic running track, spaces for both indoor and outdoor teaching and associated amenities including change rooms, grandstand seating, viewing terrace, offices, storage and maintenance facilities.

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The building has been designed as an expression of stadium architecture, which stands atop the shadow of the car parking container below. A nine-metre-high scooped ETFE fabric membrane encapsulates the playing field and amenities with striking raked lighting poles leaning over the field below to facilitate night time activities. The scooped membrane is illuminated at night from within by feature lighting augmenting a glowing stadium form during night time occupation.

QUTs commitment to sustainability is exemplified in numerous ways. Future allowances have been made by installing conduits to enable installation of electric vehicle charging stations, and via the generously designed three-meter floor to floor heights to enable repurposing of the structure if required in the future. Presently, sustainability initiatives such as natural ventilation, power saving lighting with sunset control, motion activated fixtures as well as rain water harvesting. A 100,000-litre detention tank is filled via collection from the sports field. This water is generally used for irrigation purposes for both the surrounding landscape, but also for the synthetic turf as a maintenance requirement. This water is recycled via the same drainage system ready for the next maintenance wetting session.

The building has been future proofed to allow two more car parking levels to be added to the structure which would see the building boast a four level multi story car park with 1600 car spaces plus the sports field level above. The lift cores for two passenger lifts and a third goods lift have been constructed to the extended height with the allowance for new lift doors to be installed.

LEVEL OF SERVICE

QUT are committed to making their campuses and facilities accessible to all and have ensured that this car park offers more than double the eight required PWD car spaces, instead offering seventeen spaces. Adjacent to these PWD car spaces is a PWD toilet. This feature is also above and beyond regulated requirements but is another example of QUTs commitment to offering inclusive facilities for all staff, students and visitors.

This commitment to improved accessibility on the campus is continued by the construction of the 100m elevated walkway which links the new car parking building with the centre of the campus. The elevated walkway is accessed via the car parks lifts and starts at 16m above the ground level. From here this walkway continues up a steeply sloping site through the tops of native trees before arriving at lifts and stairs closer to the heart of the campus.

On ground level the building offers a secure end of ride facility with racking space for 80 bicycles as well as offering additional bike storage racking facilities throughout the floor plates. This end of ride facility offers 80 swipe card accessible lockers, electric bike charging stations, male and female showers, an ironing station, bike repair station, water bubbler with bottle re-filler and naturally ventilated clothes drying racks. The end of ride facility is clearly signposted with themed super graphics painted on walls and floors to enable clear wayfinding and safe navigation for both motorists and cyclists.

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Once motorists enter the car park via one of two vehicle entries they are guided by the ceiling mounted park assist system to direct vehicles to vacant spaces on either car parking level. The two car parking levels are connected by two handle bar style ramps. The two entry and exit points are made up of four aisles, two entry boom gates, and two exit boom gates. All boom gates are unmanned, and the car parking is ticketed, via issue at the gate. The facility is intentionally designed and constructed with multiple entries and exits and payment devices, to cope with surges of demand during characteristic peaks associated with tertiary timetables. Payment can be made at either a variety of pay machines throughout the car park, or at the boom gates upon exit. The new generation Scheidt and Bachmann equipment is easily scalable and expandable. The new parking equipment is compatible with new technologies such as Zip By, which could be implemented seamlessly in the near future as the sector evolves and customer’s expectations change.

All of these activities are monitored with CCTV cameras as part of QUTs commitment to provide a safe campus. A Central Monitoring Station with the state of the art monitoring provides 24/7 intercom support at each touch point. QUT Security Officers patrol the facility regularly and can be dispatched to the facility as required. Security Officers are trained in routine service and maintenance of parking equipment, which ensures quick resolution of minor faults, reducing the amount of vendor service calls.

The completed project has provided QUT with a highly functional urban space which has created a modern, aesthetically pleasing gateway to the Kelvin Grove campus.

Queensland University of Technology received the award for Outstanding New or Refurbished Car Park at the 2017 Parking Industry Awards. In assessing the QUT submission the judges commented that, “It is an impressive project, and QUT is to be commended for its inventiveness, quality of project, solving of multiple problems in one building, and quality of design. The sustainability features are also notable, as is the mixed-use design of the facility. Well done.”

 

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