Lines in the Sand: Urban Design Attributes, Characteristics and Values of Selected Gold Coast Beach Precincts

  • Nigel Cartlidge

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The thesis seeks to understand how people value, use and relate to urban beach precincts so that the urban design and development of seaside places may functionally reflect the role that they play in people’s lives; in particular, the walkability of the precincts and the degree of public access to the beach. The research has examined the complex relationships between the urban design attributes and spatial arrangement of beach precincts and public access to activity, amenity and facility in a case study of three different types of Gold Coast beach precincts. Urban design theories and guidelines were examined to produce an urban beach typology and develop tools of analysis to assess and survey the beach precincts using the principles of governance that prioritised an accessible, walkable and restorative environment.
Observations were conducted of use and activity in transitional locations between the naturalbuilt and public-private environments in the precincts. The urban design analysis was combined with an inquiry into the expectations, preferences and perceptions of beach precinct use and visitation. The research further inquired into the public and professional narrative of the urban design, governance, planning and development of beach precincts using content analysis of web pages and articles on the ‘Oceanway’ and public access to beaches. Finally, a Delphi group process inquired into the opinions and beliefs of professionals who had an interest in the urban design and planning of beach precincts, and compared them to the evidence produced in the content analyses, urban design survey and field observations.
The research has found that dominant and special interest groups have created a cultural landscape that favours the activity interests of active adult males. In doing so, they have marginalised a broader constituency including children, carers, seniors, socially, economically, perceptually and mobility-impaired people, women and in particular older women, and in the context of the Gold Coast, all those people who live in inland suburbs.
The research identified the most important spaces and edges for public access to amenity and activity are along the pathways through the transitional corridors located between public and commercial and built and natural forms. The thesis proposes a research-based urban design and planning process, aligned to the inherent values of place, to produce a public realm that does not compromise or conflict with the restorative nature of the adjacency of environments found in an urban beach precinct.
Date of Award10 Oct 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLynne Armitage (Supervisor) & Daniel O'Hare (Supervisor)

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