The natural history of the Mackay region in far north Queensland has quite literally been set in concrete within the city’s magnificent new botanic gardens.

Lawrie Smith of Landplan, landscape architect for the project, says the over-riding inspiration for the Gardens was the local landscape itself. Three 6m long by 3m high concrete feature walls set this tone at the entrance of the Gardens.

Several varieties of sugar cane were selected, arranged and attached to the formwork for these walls. When the formwork was stripped away, the distinct impressions of the cane were left behind in the muted green concrete.

Off-form, charcoal-coloured concrete walling has been used for the Garden’s Visitors’ Centre. Architects Mark Trotter and Paul Sekava of Fulton Trotter and Partners saw concrete as the ideal building medium because it is low maintenance and gives a solidity to the structure.

Angular tilt-up concrete slabs are a feature of a 10mm long serpentine paved walk. Serving as both retaining and feature walls, they represent the volcanic peaks that dot the alluvial plains of the Pioneer Valley.

“The geological forms of these rock peaks is quite pronounced so we textured the concrete walls by cutting up formwork and layering them in an angled stratified pattern before we poured,” Smith says.

Different coloured oxides were used in the concrete mix to replicate the various natural colours of the rock surfaces.

The Cement and Concrete Association of Australia’ s Brisbane-based Construction Solutions team provided technical advice on the use of concrete in various aspects of the project.

Source: Building Products News.