As More Australians Migrate to the Coast, Development Follows


On the coast of Western Australia, the city of Busselton awaits the arrival of a 3,000-ton whale made of concrete and steel, breaching from the depths of the Indian Ocean.

The leviathan is part of a marine observation center, the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre, a project that cost 30 million Australian dollars, about $23 million, and was designed by Baca Architects and Subcon, a marine contractor. Situated at the end of the Busselton Jetty, a city attraction, it will be Australia’s largest natural marine observatory when it opens in December 2022.

The multilevel structure, which will offer art and science exhibits while allowing visitors to marvel at life beneath the surface of the ocean, is the latest example of a new rush of developments steadily cropping up around Australia’s coastline to entertain locals and draw international visitors.

It is unlikely that net population loss from major cities will persist, but analysts predict that cities and towns around the coast will continue to grow. The shift toward remote work is only aiding that, Mr. Coster said. “We’re in the midst of a lifestyle shift movement, and we’re going to see a lot more projects in these areas,” he said.

Smaller civic spaces geared toward their communities are also experiencing a moment.

Found on most major beaches, the shore patrol pavilions known as Surf Life Saving Clubs were once overlooked as utilitarian buildings full of gear like surfboards and boats with maybe a club room or bar. Now, they are highly sought after by developers and architects who are turning them into multifaceted community meeting points.

To drive a recovery, tourism operators and developers will continue to create coastal attractions and developments that are both attractive and environmentally sustainable.

Broadly speaking, coastal developments have improved in Australia as the commercial real estate industry works more closely with other sectors such as the science community, said Dr. Beth Fulton, senior principal research scientist at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s national science agency.

“In the last decade, there has been more cross-collaboration, which means we are heading in the right direction from a development perspective,” she said.

Intelligent development needs to continue because “these are the places that’ll experience a lot of change in the coming decades due to climate change,” she said. “We still have so much to learn from our oceans.”

It’s a sentiment shared by the team at the Busselton Jetty as they prepare for the installation of their whale-shaped underwater discovery center.

“From the outset, we wanted to do it the right away,” said Ms. Shreeve. “It may be partly about entertainment, but we’re also equally about educating and doing work for our ocean and marine life.”



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