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Morton Bay TRANSBOUNDARY WATERS Clara Abecassis 2006 A regional map indicates the areas that have been investigated as part of the SEQRWSS. While consideration is being given to the specific areas covered by the Council of Mayors (SEQ) member councils, where relevant, a number of significant cross-boundary connections have been taken into account with adjacent local governments. Principal Reasons for Sand Extraction Commercial: Ongoing commercial extraction for use mainly in concrete and concrete products 2

Development: Large-scale extraction for development of capital projects, including fill requirements for the expansion of the Brisbane Airport Shipping and Port Access: Navigational channel maintenance works and capital dredging undertaken by the Port of Brisbane Corporation to maintain designated minimum channel depths and to provide safety for navigation Water Filtration: For use in rapid sand water filtration to provide further freshwater sourcing for Brisbane and its surrounding communities 1 Combined distribution of primary river basins 2 Wind flows into Morton Bay 3 River flows into Morton Bay 4 Sand Extraction from Morton Bay 5 Site Plan 6 Site 7 Completion of the 4.6 km seawall extension at the Brisbane Port, Aug 2004 3


length, the tree-lined strips, the enhanced embankments, rest points, wooded areas, sports and recreation facilities—all these could comprise the layout for a networked park area that could innovate public spaces within an extended territory. There are of course certain precise conditions to consider: the problem of hydraulic security, the changes in irrigation techniques, the abundance of the gravel pits, factors that presently constitute the possibility for a collective and effective territorial project.

The consequences of abandonment are that the gravel pit is today an extremely attractive setting, which the project maintains while working for its partial transformation. For example: The central woods and the grassy escarpment need not be completely modified while, conversely, the pit can be transformed into a veritable ecological testing ground as well as a place for recreation to be inserted within a more ample context. The idea advanced here is for a reservoir basin that draws off effusions from the irrigation canal, south of the gravel pit, and from the northern new canal during the Meschio flood periods, while the woodlands at its heart are to be maintained. Pathways, jetties, and waterside rest stops can all enhance the area and make the vicinity comfortable, in passing down through the different elevations towards the low woods where part of the grassy es-





The Merotto gravel pit recuperation project is therefore interesting in a number of ways. Its planning resulted in three important objectives. First, to help ensure the availability of water for agriculture during the summer and periods of drought, as shown in the previous scenario; second, to mitigate against the flooding of the river Meschio; third, to test the possibility of enriching the phreatic stratum (direct improvement of the reservoir bed). Its introduction here, into an ex–gravel pit that is already in a very advanced state of renaturalization and constitutes “an extremely interesting biotype from a naturalistic point of view” (CBSP, 2003), is even more intriguing. The water table flows from northwest to southeast; it is located between nine and ten meters below surface level, and different types of habitat have developed within the gravel pit, including wet woodlands of white willow (Salix alba) and black poplar (Populus nigra), reeds, and wetland habitation, which constitute a rare element of biodiversity in the higher dry plain, together with mesophytic grasses over large edge areas. Among other considerations, geological surveys around the gravel pit show that the trees manage to grow in an area of “notable adaptation to the under-soil” where building rubble, concrete chunks, and even plastic material can be found to a depth of approximately 1.8 meters.

2006 Morton Bay TRANSBOUNDARY WATERS Clara Abecassis

carpment creates a “natural� arena. The various design hypotheses for the new canal resulted from a broad debate between hydraulic engineers and designers that confronted the issues concerning floodwater management and territorial redevelopment. Progress was made from a complete separation of the two aspects (the hydraulic workings ensured by a flood-overflow pipeline and a surface trench that superficially resembles a traditional water network) towards the idea of a canal connecting the river to the gravel pit with variable and articulated cross-sections, more coherent both to the scope of maintaining open-air water and to the actual situation of settlement dispersal. The variable sections allow the canal to adapt to different situations, taking advantage of its capacity for expansion and only having to reduce itself to a pipeline in the stretches deemed necessary. The new feature introduced into the countryside landscape clarifies the connection between the gravel pit and the river via the creation of linear parklands with hedges and clearings: a new (territorial) scale for public space.


As I have already written, the paradox of public spaces in the territories of dispersion is clear, revealing at the same time the crisis of traditional urbanity, of the modern concept of public space and the limits of a strongly individualized way of life. A weak structure of small squares, roadside churches, and modern facilities, often in marginal and disconnected areas, is dispersed throughout the territory. In recent years, much investment has been made to requalify public spaces within a traditional urban framework, often inventing them where they had never existed and in competition with new places of consumption. The modern welfare city, highly standardized and isotropic, has found it difficult to represent the peculiar mix of rurality and urbanity of the Venetian territory, and has remained a predominantly functional space. Public space is something larger. It is an infrastructural space that individuals cannot afford on their own. Yet it is a social space that we consider our own. It is related not only to urbanity or to the modern idea of welfare but also to larger symbolic representations. In a metropolitan region such as Venice, where more than 70 percent of the land is still cultivated (producing only 2.8% of GDP), the ideal can be neither Times Square nor a village community space. In the European dispersed territories, along the isotropic network of water and asphalt, minimal and large-scale projects can produce denser environments. Flooding areas, former gravel pits, new forests, irrigation devices, canals and public transport nodes are materials and places with which and in which to reformulate the concept of public and public space. They

W6: Transboundary Waters  
W6: Transboundary Waters  

by Clara Abecassis