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Commonwealth Games 2018: A development fit for repurpose


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Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

The Gold Coast in Queensland is an area ripe for construction development in Australia. It is set to grow by over a million people within the next 20 years, and is undergoing a rare city-building opportunity with the construction of the 2018 Commonwealth Games athlete’s village and associated sporting sites.

Once completed, the athlete’s village will house 6,600 athletes and Commonwealth Games officials from all over the world during the Commonwealth Games in April 2018. 

Athlete’s villages, which are more often than not built to purpose, haven’t enjoyed a good reputation over the past few decades of major sporting gatherings, Olympic Games being no exception. With a propensity to go well over budget and turn into unused ‘white elephants’ after the event is over, athlete’s villages represent a major investment that needs careful consideration for future reuse.

Jobsite spoke to Dr. Jason Byrne, Associate Professor at the Griffith School of Environment, about the ramifications of the Commonwealth Games development on the Gold Coast region.

Breathing New Life Post-Games 

Dr. Byrne notes that infrastructure such as the Commonwealth Games’ athlete’s village must be used post-games. 

“In Athens during Olympic construction, they didn’t manage the location of facilities well in terms of urban fabric,” Dr. Byrne says. “But the Gold Coast has enhanced existing facilities to ensure growth of patronage after the games. They are world-class facilities that will be of ongoing benefit, because they haven’t been concentrated in one or two locations like in Rio de Janeiro or Athens.”

There is potential for a long-term legacy project due to the sustainable practices used in the construction process. 

There is potential for a long-term legacy project due to the sustainable practices used in the construction process. Dr. Byrne says the idea is to sell and rent most of the apartments in the athlete’s village after the Games are over.

“They’ve been clever in the way they set up the site. For example, the kitchens don’t have full facilities yet – they’ll install these after the Games through retrofitting. This means they can reduce the impact of the appliances during the intense period of time during the games.”

Sustainable Construction on a Mega-Scale 

Incorporating a sustainable approach to large-scale construction sites is a crucial part of the journey, in order to futureproof and create a development with long-term positive impact.

Dr. Bryne notes the positive aspects of the Games’ development, which has achieved positive accreditation of the site, achieving its target of a 5 star system for waste reduction and energy. They have also been set a 60% target of construction waste to be diverted away from landfill. 

They have also been set a 60% target of construction waste to be diverted away from landfill.  

Along with the positives, Dr. Byrne also sees room for improvement.

“I believe more could have been done to harness the abundant sunshine that Queensland has to make the site energy neutral or harness more solar energy. Similarly, they could have stepped up their effort at habitat conservation and environmental consciousness, such as reducing land clearing for the benefit of the local koala population.”

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