Lessons from GC2018 City Presentation

As tourists and residents, the experiences we have in public spaces is what ultimately defines our very opinions of a “good” or “bad” place.    The GC2018 City Presentation program was driven to enhance public spaces and leave all Commonwealth Games visitors with a great opinion of the Gold Coast.    While the Games visitor experience was largely shaped by other agencies (in venues, festival, transit etc), a key strength in City Presentation was to see the bigger picture across partners and to “fill the gaps” between.   


In 2015, the program had started with a framework masterplan based on strong urban design principles (around gateways, routes, and precincts experiences).  After detailed site analysis, we reviewed an initial giant “wishlist’ and through great collaborations, our program delivered the following =  

  1. Broadbeach Mall (including smart poles)
  2. Southport Mall (including smart poles)
  3. Chinatown Laneways (funding)
  4. Tree Planting
  5. Decorative Lighting (co-funding)
  6. Games Time Banners
  7. Banner Booking System
  8. Wayfinding Signs
  9. Moveable Furniture
  10. Spectacular Art (co-funding)
  11. Urban Art Projects (co-funding)
  12. Scrim
  13. QBR Event Kits
  14. Blast Bag Covers
  15. Mascot Trail (co-funding)

See images at https://www.behance.net/gallery/46138105/GC2018-City-Presentation 


I think urbanists can bring a lot to the Games space, with key skill sets in navigating public stakeholders, strategic thinking, and key understanding of pedestrian spaces.   On the flip-side, urban designers and place-makers can also learn lots from major events too, such as:

    • Branding and Look.   Cohesive look driven by strong branding is really very clear in events, and while you do see this in some urban places, I’m yet to always see this well understood or funded in urban design discourse or policy.  
    • Precinct- based governance.  The City’s Games planning and operational teams worked at clear precinct spatial levels, which helped break “silos” and create specific champion/experts for spaces.  This effective model definitely reinforced to me, the power of similar Place Management governance model already used in some cities (eg the likes of Southport CBD Team, Southbank Parklands, redevelopment authorities etc)
    • Operational mindsets.   I was fascinated by the pure complexity of Games operations – from security, roads closures, waste bin collection to how you feed an Athletes Village!   It was deep in the “nitty gritty” and major events really truly excel in operational and scenario thinking.. This level of clear implementation and action plan, is something I often felt missing in some urban planning strategy and policy.   
    • Temporary VS Permanent Investment
      City Councils are typically great at hard infrastructure projects and while I’ve watched temporary place-making definitely move more on the agenda over the last 5+ years – it still seems a “grey space” which could be improved in policy, investment, and strategy.The overall split in City Presentation ended up  61% permanent infrastructure, 26% temporary works and 13% staff.  This has now made me wonder if this could be applied as a “golden ratio” for place-making budgets.   Much like the good old 2% public art policy idea, imagine the power of temporary activation funded as part of implementation plans!


Leaving the job, someone asked me if City Presentation will live on as it ongoing role.  It doesn’t as a single role, but I also think it’s more about a mindset across many roles.  The benefits to GC2018 City Presentation was to have visibility, integrate and champion across many areas of interests in public spaces (public art, branding, infrastructure, urban design, marketing, asset owners, events, and across both permanent and temporary works).  

The ability and culture to integrate and collaborate like never before, was such a clear feeling to me in the Commonwealth Games Unit, and ultimately I think that is the real lesson and success of the Games.  



If you or your staff would like to hear more detail about GC2018 City Presentation – get in contact at yengen@gmail.com

Opinions are my own and not of my employer  


LinkedIn version of this article >


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