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Where we swim: Liquid Blu’s aquatic culture

With a portfolio that extends from Hobart to Darwin and everywhere in between, Liquid Blu has played a key role in the development of Australia’s aquatic culture.

Where we swim: Liquid Blu’s aquatic culture

Gympie Arc, photography by Christopher Frederick Jones.

Liquid Blu, a Brisbane-based specialist in the design of aquatic, sports and leisure precincts, has clocked up 20 years of service. Founded by creative director Yuri Dillon, the practice has over 100 master plans and 25 aquatic centres to its name.

Asked about the origins of Liquid Blu, Dillon explained that while he started his career working on housing renovations and retail fit-outs, swimming pool design is in his blood.

“My father was a pioneer of prefabricated pool technology and created many of the leisure features in pools people have enjoyed around Australia over the last 40 years,” he says. So, his focus on public aquatic centres was a natural fit.

Yeppoon Foreshore Revitalisation Project, photography by Angus Martin Photography.

Considering, Liquid Blu’s list of achievements – including projects like the Gympie Aquatic Recreation Centre, the Blackwater Aquatic Centre, the Miami Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast, and the Yeppoon Foreshore Revitalisation Project – the decision to follow in Dillon’s father’s footsteps was clearly a good one.

Asked about the commonalities across these projects Dillon says that, for Liquid Blu, the design process begins with acquiring an understanding of place and the wishes of the client.

Blackwater Aquatic Centre, photography by Angus Martin Photography.

“We embed the challenging technical and operational requirements in a way which puts customer experience and quality of public space first. We attempt to reflect stories and aspirations of the communities and their unique locations and embed those within the design,” he says.  

From there, the practice leverages it experience and expertise to inform process and identify opportunities within the design which create more value.

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Gympie Arc, photography by Christopher Frederick Jones.

“Outcomes reflect an architecture responsive to the environment, with strong character and legibility.  Connections and view lines within the centre are always highly considered to improve safety and way finding. Spatial qualities such as light and material selections are highly considered for each project,” says Dillon.

At the same time, naturally, no two projects are the same.

“Every site provides an opportunity to explore, challenge and test design rationale. Our projects are unique in the way they respond to their contextual setting and community where they are deployed. They attempt to connect users with a sense of place through strong character and identity,” says Dillon.

Miami Aquatic Centre, photography by Angus Martin Photography.

To gauge where two decades of experience and development have taken Liquid Blu, one need look no further than its most recent project, the Pimpama Sports Hub.

An energy-self-sufficient sports and leisure precinct, the project is emblematic of the technical and commercial understanding that underpins the practice’s design dexterity. Beyond that, Dillon sees Pimpama (which is the Gold Coast’s largest-ever community infrastructure project) as part of a move towards integrated precincts, a trend he sees many benefits in.

Yeppoon Foreshore Revitalisation Project, photography by Angus Martin Photography.

“There’s so much opportunity for co-locating sport, community and cultural facilities. With Pimpama, we were able to prove the economies of scale in both construction and facility management. Integrated precincts also encourage people to participate in activities that they might not otherwise be exposed to.”

If its track record of the past 20 years is anything to go by, Liquid Blu is likely to make a significant contribution to this trend. And the practice is likely be a big part of the development of surf parks, swimming with fish on 3D printed reefs, and all the other types of aquatic facilities that we can expect to see more of in the coming years.

Liquid Blu
liquidblu.com.au

Gympie Arc, photography by Christopher Frederick Jones.
Gympie Arc, photography by Christopher Frederick Jones.
Gympie Arc, photography by Christopher Frederick Jones.
Blackwater Aquatic Centre, photography by Angus Martin Photography.
Miami Aquatic Centre, photography by Angus Martin Photography.
Miami Aquatic Centre, photography by Angus Martin Photography.
Liquid Blu management team, photography by Emma Nevison.

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