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The Urban Ground Guideline

The Urban Ground Design Guidelines

[ urban design guidelines ]

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In the midst of a period steadfast growth and urbanisation, the Gold Coast Urban Ground Guideline provides a requisite set of principles for future development to shape the urban fabric of the city for future years to come. With an increased emphasis on the development of taller buildings, the guideline reflects planning aspirations for best practice approaches to both architecture and urban design.

The Urban Ground Guideline is an essential policy document that will guide the City of Gold Coast in delivering urban amenity excellence for all users of the city – residents, tourists, business owners and local government. This is particularly important for the Gold Coast as the city seeks to enhance the character of its unique high-rise to beach urban setting.
— Malcolm Middleton, Queensland Government Architect

The following text is from the Gold Coast City Council website.

The guideline outlines a number of principles for the development of medium and high rise buildings, as well as an engaged public realm outcome. The report sets out a structure to ensure new development is able to fulfill on five key tenets of the City of Gold Coast’s approach; form and space, active and engaged, subtropical and living, connected, and functional.

As it is critical that new buildings enhance the amenity that drives investment of these places in the first instance, the Urban Ground Guideline encourages best practice in the design of medium-rise and high-rise development. It guides how this type of development can better integrate with street level and frame the public realm to deliver responsive and well considered street frontages rather than continuous monotonous facades that are cluttered with vehicle entries and services. Outlined in this guideline are important design and planning principles that support a range of podium or street interface development, depending on the location and context of the site. The illustrations aim to assist mutually beneficial discussions between the City of Gold Coast and development applicants on the appropriate form of development for their sites.


The Urban Ground Design Guidelines, in conjunction with Urbis’ The Gold Coast Building Height Study won a Commendation award at the 2019 Ministers’ Queensland Awards for Urban Design. The jury’s citation as follows:

The Gold Coast Building Height Study – An Approach to City Image and the Urban Ground Guideline together offers a compelling and rigorous suite of documents to guide the City of Gold Coast’s future urban form. The documents provide a framework for assessing the distribution of building height while encouraging best practice design for medium-rise and high-rise development.

The Jury recognised the value of these complementary yet separate projects and commends the City of Gold Coast in undertaking such visionary city-shaping documents in a collaborative and multidisciplinary manner. It was acknowledged that these documents set a benchmark for other Councils across Queensland experiencing rapid growth and urbanization. The Jury encourages Council to maintain this ongoing commitment to design excellence and to continue to encourage high quality urban design outcomes that provide significant health, well-being and economic benefits to the City.


Project Details:

City of Gold Coast, Queensland.
Completed 2018.


Commendation for Excellence in Urban Design, Ministers’ Queensland Awards for Urban Design. 2019.
Commendation for Urban Design, Gold Coast Architecture Awards. 2019.