Urban planning expert Professor Phil Heywood moved to West End over thirty years ago, witnessing firsthand the development of 4101 as we know it today. 

Sipping on tonic water and lime under the balcony of South Bank’s Ship Inn restaurant, Phil stopped to marvel at the cultural precinct that he helped to develop as a cultural community hub following Expo 88.

‘When Expo 88 was in full swing there wasn’t a plan for future uses for the site, and I was concerned at what would happen without a plan. I was president of The Planning Institute at the time, and we formed five basic principles for what should be observed: public access throughout the site, the spirit of expo, uses which would engage everyone throughout Brisbane, links to the existing community, and terracing back from the waterfront within the various forms of development to give one the sense of a local riverside space.’

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‘I think this is simply one of the best riverside spaces in the world. When I visit London, I think it’s lovely, but it’s no better than South Bank. It contributes hugely to the economy of the city, because of the opportunities for people to stay overnight, spend money, and fill the hotels. The money that was spent for the site acquisition has paid for itself time and time again,’ said Phil.

He has collaborated with the Brisbane City Council on more than one occasion, sharing the knowledge and mastery that gained him entry into the Planning Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame last year. The proposed development of Kurilpa is a hotly debated topic, and Phil believes that sustaining the integrity of West End is of the utmost importance.

‘West End could be seen as a state of mind, as much as it is a place. In a way, the state of mind is helping to save the place, and keep it as it is, which is why I am campaigning against overdevelopment of the Kurilpa site, to have 11 000 people on that small site, and too much concrete – we want the preservation of affordable housing.’

The sense of community and the feelings that come with it are things that Phil feels are a particularly exquisite element of life in West End.

‘Going on from when I said West End was a state of mind, it’s also a state of heart isn’t it? There are three kinds of things that West End offers us. It offers us the value of survival for people who have had severe life problems. It offers pleasure for the bright, young people who need a space to celebrate and meet and enjoy. And it offers joy, for togetherness, and for the spirit of support and love.’

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the development of Kurilpa, Phil feels positive about the future of development in West End.

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‘My hope for West End is that it can maintain what is, and can further unfold. I see West End as a cultural, creative centre, with people coming in and mixing and evolving, and I think that it should flow down to the riverfront and on to the city centre, offering the city the capacity for constant self renewal. The creative class mix very well with the elderly and the underprivileged, and mixing is what West End does best; mixing people, mixing age groups, mixing interests, and mixing wealth levels.’

 

Words by Rachel Westbury. Photography by Adam Bortic.