Here we explore the development of the Queensland vernacular and how it brings forth works that inspire, attract, educate and humble. It is sensitive, it is fresh, it is us.
Wilson Architects in association with John Wardle have recently completed the Queensland Brain Institute for the University of Queensland. This building won the regional Royal Australian Institute of Architects building of the year award for 2008. The design team exploited the program and network of arteries to build a body of spaces that configure and celebrate relationships, connections, practice and execution. The designers best describe this as ‘Theatre for Research’, that 'encourages fertile cross-pollination of ideas. To this end, the building exaggerates the visibility of research activity, placing the laboratories on display upon entry. Circulation routes have been elevated from the prosaic to become lively promenades that are attached to informal conversation spaces important for conducting accidental research in a more social environment.” Wilson Architects 2008.
On another part of the University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus stands a building that seems to grow out of the landscape. Richard Kirk Architects in association with ML Design have recently completed the General Purpose North 4 teaching facility. The building’s angular gestures respond to vistas and topography, orienting to inversely track the path of the sun, shading interior spaces and mediating the lines between inside and out. Earthy pallets and robust materials wrap and extract from the ground to shroud a courtyard entry. Articulated scales metaphor the organism these buildings commonly become.
Arkhefield‘s contribution to the University of Queensland’s architectural investment includes the Rural Clinic Division on their Toowoomba campus. This polished form elegantly composes spaces and sequences with a simplicity that leaves little critique, and plenty delight. The embodiment of character is celebrated in off formed concrete with timber grain adding texture, telling the story of ‘making’ and the original material of this place. Place is preserved and reincarnated for another lifetime. Opening to the north and south facades, curtain walls balance the rugged softness of concrete east and west facades. Picture windows dramatically penetrate east and west facades to reveal internal planning sequences. The entry forecourt aligns the southern boundary spilling onto luscious grassed and shaded landscaped areas. Molecular voids in the four concrete blade walls offer glimpses through the building, and in times of alignment provide surprising delight.
|Another fine example of form finding is Union at Milton designed by John Wardle Architects. This mixed use high-rise complex of buildings unfold to reveal a series of forms that come together in an orchestrated manner to couple both, civic and private spaces. This project, presently in development application, is an exemplar Transit Oriented Development for Brisbane City Council and serves to define the direction of urban design for the future. The project will deliver approximately 210 apartments, 127 hotel rooms, 13,760 sq m of office accommodation and 2846 sq m of retail space, strategically located above Milton Railway Station.
With the burgeoning office market in Brisbane experiencing unprecedented vacancy rates, the Cox Rayner designed One One One (111 Eagle Street) responds by providing high end office accommodation... sensitively. The first high-rise office tower in Brisbane to be designed to the highest environmental ranking, One One One is fast proving that sustainability is not just an ambition, but a reality. The distinctive architectural expression references two large culturally significant fig trees at street level. This respect inspired extension of the structure organically across the facade and above the roof to form a canopy over planted roof terraces. Though poetic, the structure is born from pragmatic load bearing and site constraints, and contributes to environmental initiatives employed. Clever planning strategies and environmental initiatives deliver a built product that speaks of its time, its context, and a sustainable future.
Brisbane's corporate interiors have likewise come of age with Hassell studio's recent fit out for accounting firm KPMG. Hassell resisted the temptation for gregarious putt putt greens, quirky meeting rooms, and psychedelic colour schemes that challenge every bit of my 256 colour printer, to deliver an elegant fit out notable for its, style and understated sophistication. The fit out design offers both front of house meeting areas capable of customization, and practice floors that enhance teamwork and collaboration, balancing the need for privacy and a cohesive team work environment. The flexible open plan workspace merges effortlessly with informal breakout spaces and utility functions to create a seamless, elegant workspace.
The most refreshing direction in residential design has erupted from a plethora of small design firms where ethos is more important that ego, where minimalism pays homage to the greats like Corb, Mies and Alto, and interpretation is left free to you and I to realize individual aspirations through interactions with their work.
Owen and Vokes recently completed the Balmoral House citing the process as a reaction of manipulation and editing, orchestrated apertures, and ambiguous retinance. Owen and Vokes "drew on the formal devices of Palladio and the latent spatial complexity, and silent facades of Loos for inspiration.
|The application of Loos' room planning technique assisted in optimising the tall volume, reminding us of the story of the Villa Mueller in Prague.” (Owen and Vokes 2007). Palladian openings suggest evidence of a large or public room behind, however, one discovers a stair room that is open to weather conditions, reinforcing the coalescence of the stair (promenade) and nature (garden).
m3architecture's Armstrong House needs no reference to inspiration. The clearly minimalist ethic is disciplined in a manner that is rarely seen in the sub tropics, and is refreshingly engaging. The garden pavilion accommodates “the evolving co-existence of 4 adults, and reflects upon the changing needs of parents and children”. m3achitecture. Bedrooms become studios, and hibernation becomes activation as adult daughters embrace the space through their maturing pursuits. The flexible program is wrapped in mirrored surfaces multiplying the perception of the landscape.
Our next generation of designer shows no sign of abatement. Their confident articulated ambition holds Brisbane design in good stead for the future. One such example is the recent project work by Mark Sierzchula, undergrad at the Queensland University of Technology. His functional insertion of a Pavilion in the Park into the Brisbane Botanical Gardens “glides elegantly over the landscape as if growing from it”. Mark Sierzchula 2007. Beacons “form indexical relationships to what was and now is, fusing with concrete elements to seduce you to its side as the ravine closes, hiding and revealing, compressing then exploding into the grand space”. Mark Sierzchula 2007 Landscape becomes form.
No renaissance is complete without the betterment of human kind. The Brisbane chapter of Emergency Architects Australia provides a profound response to human endeavour with philanthropic ventures offering non-profit voluntary assistance to emergency relief and reconstruction programs in developing countries within the Asia Pacific Region. The recently formed Brisbane branch of EAA is on the front line due to their proximity to the Asia Pacific region. With subtropical expertise, EAA’s Brisbane volunteers have a wealth of experience to share in developing relevant solutions to relief activities in our region. Design is for everyone.
The innovations of Brisbane architectural firms visited through this rendering, demonstrate a collective understanding of the requirements of a city which is no longer the sleepy town of the north. The increasingly tangible influence of the many cultural masters of Europe & Asia promotes a stimulating dialogue about who WE are and where WE’RE heading. With scientific, business and cultural pursuits at the forefront of emerging excellence, we see a sharpening of design to respond to the development of this intellectual infrastructure.