Arkhefield break with tradition for new Cinema complex in Brisbane
The Barracks is a commercial, retail and cinema redevelopment with a pedestrian link to a major
Sports Stadium and city precinct. The Barracks had sat vacant for 20 years, with the redevelopment
containing five theatre cinemas, 10,200 sq m of commercial space, a supermarket, plus 2,700 sq m of
speciality retail and dining, including fresh food markets.
With the clients Arkhefield developed a high density, low‐rise masterplan and negotiated all
stakeholder requirements. The brief was complex and involved multiple stakeholders including State
and National governments, transport services and private companies. Careful consideration of the
needs of major tenants, stadium access, heritage constraints and Barracks patrons has resulted in a
distinctive group of buildings.
Previously abandoned schemes included predominantly residential redevelopment; therefore it was
imperative to facilitate the right balance of commercial, retail and entertainment to overcome this
challenge and meet the clients brief. The buildings were incorporated deliberately to create an
inviting retail precinct of shops and open air dining with the positioning of pedestrian arrival points,
cinema entry and supermarket entry to activate the external malls and lanes at ground level.
An innovative Retail and Commercial precinct was led by resolving the heritage and site access
constraints. The heritage listed Police Barracks and Stables buildings are much loved Brisbane
landmarks and the design for the precinct required that these buildings retain visual prominence on
the site. Maintaining this led to low buildings with large floor plates which strategically hid the new
buildings behind the old, leaving the Petrie Terrace streetscape intact.
The Cinema was designed as a beacon for night‐time entertainment and provides a unique view of
the eastern and southern reaches of the Brisbane River, not seen from any other site in the city. It
celebrates the romanticism of the Cinema unlike the ‘black box’ format commonly used for cinemas
in retail developments, and provides a large glass foyer for patrons to take advantage of the city
views whilst providing a visual link to the diners in the mall.
Overall, the project demonstrates how lively permeable public spaces can be weaved into private
land holdings to the maximum benefit of the city.