King George Square has been criticised for its lack of greenery.

An Urban Design Alliance walking tour will include King George Square, which as has been criticised for its lack of greenery. Photo: Michelle Smith

The creative teams behind a host of urban landmarks across Brisbane will open up to the public as part of a walking tour next week beginning at the city's notorious King George Square. 

Speakers include Brisbane City Council's senior urban designer Scott Chaseling, South Bank Corporation's Matthew Lawson and regarded Brisbane architect Peter Richards will lead the Urban Design Alliance Queensland (UDAL) walk intended to spark debate about Brisbane's best built bits.

Even if that debate is somewhat controversial says UDAL past-president Andrew Hammonds who will also present as part of the city tour. 

A view of the new King George Square. Click for more photos

King George Square opens

A view of the new King George Square.

"It's no secret that King George Square is controversial," Mr Hammonds said. "We're starting the tour there, and it's deliberate because if there's one thing that's been left out of the King George Square debate, it's the perspective of the people who created it."

Though the square's redesign was completed in 2009, a campaign against it by council opposition leader Milton Dick has kept the place in the headlines.

But Mr Hammonds, an urban planner with over 20 years' experience, said the square was an example of design "best-practice".

"The square is excellent," he said. "It works very well as a place to host events and it complements quite nicely Queen Street Mall, which is more of a shady, sit-down place."

Recently lord mayor Graham Quirk defended the square's open layout and lack of shade on the grounds its primary function was as an events space.

"There's been over 200 events we've had in King George Square since the redesign, so it is what it is," Cr Quirk said. "It is an events location now."

However Mr Hammonds said the open, grassy space at South Bank's River Quays was in line with an international push towards green development.

The lawns, created as part of the precinct's multimillion-dollar 2011 overhaul, connect Brisbane residents with the river in a way that had "never been achieved before," he said, raising council's new River's Edge Strategy as a sign more like development was to come.

That said, Mr Hammonds believes the the stand-out component of the tour will be Brisbane's blossoming laneway culture, with the walk taking in Burnett Lane, a side-street redeveloped under a $23 million council planning initiative aimed at activating ignored urban spaces.

"Laneways are a huge trend in Australia at the moment – everyone wants to see a bit of Melbourne in their own backyard," Mr Hammonds said.

"Obviously you can't transplant the same culture, but it's important to remember even Melbourne's laneways required the support of council and business and everyone else to become what they are today.

"Around 30 years ago Melbourne was dead in the city at night but it's laneways are thriving today – it's not unreasonable to suggest Brisbane is heading in that same direction – people love enclosed spaces."

That Brisbane is balancing the "grunge and the green" is a good indication the city is heading in the right design direction, the urban planner said.

"We've been blind-sided by the last 40 years which have seen planning decisions focus on cars – now we're moving toward a time when pedestrians and public transport are reclaiming the city space," he said.

"Brisbane is behind the other capital cities, but we're catching up fast."

Mr Hammonds said some of the city's chief eyesores were centred around George Street.

"If I had my way we'd get rid of the Roma Street Transit Centre building and widen the footpaths to make George Street an attractive boulevard," he said.

"We'd also get rid of the city's one-way streets – Perth has done that and they're better off for it."

The UDAL Supurban Street Walk tour – which includes pit-stops at pubs - takes place December 13.

More information is available via the UDAL website 

*A previous version of this story reported Urbis planner James Tumas would be speaking as part of the tour. A UDAL spokeswoman has since confirmed Mr Tumas will not be presenting.