Last week, Elizabeth Quay recorded its one-millionth visitor.

Our Elizabeth Quay precinct opened on 29 January 2016 and so far it’s been packed out.

Elizabeth Quay is a new place that unites Perth’s CBD with the Swan River. We have created a completely new inlet and a new island, by excavating the ground that used to join it to the mainland.

ARM, in conjunction with landscape architects TCL, masterplanned it and designed the public spaces. These include the new shorelines, BHP Billiton Water Park (a water-play area) and a ferry terminal with a distinctive blue canopy. This was constructed over land then the land was excavated from under it.

So far, only Elizabeth Quay’s public spaces are open. Over the next few years, buildings for commercial, retail, hospitality and residential uses will appear in the development lots set out in ARM’s masterplan. The as-yet-undeveloped lots are currently hosting big events—the Perth International Arts Festival and the Fringe World Fairground are currently on until 6 March. The World’s Biggest Playgroup Day will be on Saturday 19 March.

Where did the distinctive shapes come from?

We generated them from a design motif we call the ripple-wave pattern. We created it by dropping a virtual egg (a Wagyl egg from the Noongar Dreamtime) into virtual water and recording the patterns the water disturbance makes. From this, we derived the shape of the inlet and its shoreline.

The ripple-wave pattern has also determined the built edges for paving and terraces, the building and planting interfaces, furniture locations, trees, stairs and water features. It gives distinctiveness, individuality and unity to the whole precinct. The pattern is built into the paving colours, and responds to things like trees and buildings as if they were objects floating in water, creating swirls, ripples and whirlpools in the paving.

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There are four kiosks on the site designed by other practices: Matthews & Scavalli Architects; CODA; Iredale Pedersen Hook and Hocking Heritage Studio.

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There’s a ramp on the island for swans, kids and launching kayaks.

“…a very stimulating contribution to the life of the city as a whole, where the CBD now extends down to the water, with a wonderful public space as its conclusion”

—World Architecture Festival founder and director Paul Finch

Images by: Peter Bennetts and ARM Architecture