Winner: Best in State (Commercial) - AIDA Awards
Commended: Heritage projects - AIA State Awards
This project has completely transformed the main entry foyer of 259 Queen St commercial tower for the building owners, Investa. The upgrade increases area by 30%, integrating sympathetically with the heritage listed GPO via a minimalist glass canopy. The result is a modern, light-filled entrance with cathedral-like volume. The foyer to the flagship building in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD now also includes direct access to a 70-seat café, a concierge, and the covered pedestrian links of the GPO. 259 Queen Street now has a fitting entry statement to its more than 24,000 sqm of NLA, anchored by NAB. The previously hidden south façade of the GPO is revealed and celebrated. The manner in which the new and old fabric come together is unique in the Brisbane CBD context. Tenants and visitors alike to both buildings now enjoy their journey and interactions whilst being bathed in natural light.
The 259 Queen St owners recognised that their entry space was sub-optimal and not meeting CBD commercial tenant expectations. We quickly realised that the foyer’s greatest asset, its adjacency to the GPO, was pivotal to any potential transformation. The zone between the two buildings had become a forgotten residual space, filled with the detritus that comes with years of neglect. The existing lobby of 259 Queen itself was also narrow and cramped, lacking an authentic qualitative experience.
We aimed to bring together two previously disparate spaces, breathing new life into each and optimising both. We ‘dissolved’ the bounding wall to the commercial lobby, uniting the two spaces under a singular glazed canopy, creating a singular space as a top-lit ‘urban courtyard’.
We sought to reveal heritage elements, celebrate them, and integrate them into a new foyer experience; but in line with best heritage practice we did “as much as necessary, but as little as possible.” We avoided major impacts on heritage fabric, joining with it as delicately as possible, and always in a way that was “reversible” at some future time.
Ensuring the newly revealed heritage façade remained “the hero” of the space, we chose a restrained palette of quality materials, adding warmth without adding distraction. The stone, steel, timber and performance glass are used in simple expansive planes to form a backdrop to the heritage elements. The new foyer uses clean and simple lines of classic contemporary space as a deliberate contrast of ‘new’ to ‘old’.
Public and Cultural Benefits:
Revealing the long-neglected façade of the GPO and opening the long forgotten linkway connection are huge positive benefits for Brisbane. A new urban courtyard has been created inviting exploration, and contributing to the grain of Brisbane’s mosaic of city spaces, with the added value of experiencing heritage fabric.
Relationship of Built Form to Context
The structure and envelope of the new architecture needed delicate insertion to not diminish the heritage elements, and to ensure all work was ‘reversible’ in the future. New glazed roofing touches the heritage fabric lightly, with all load cantilevering from a main haunch beam.
Requirements for a ‘new identity’ at 259 Queen has been achieved by adopting a simple approach to functionality. Improvements to the basic pedestrian flow parameters, provision of intimate seating bays, a concierge desk, plus a new indoor cafe space at the ground plane, providing activation and connection.
Integration of Allied Disciplines
Structural engineering was integral to the project; in dealing with existing fabric, helping to ‘dissolve’ the commercial lobby bounding wall, and minimising connective impacts. Lighting design was also critical in evolving discrete ways to illuminate the space warmly from discrete sources.
Whilst small in scale, the project’s procurement was not simple. The client’s desire for a ‘statement piece’ needed balancing against a range of constraints. We adopted simplicity in detailing and used elemental planes of material to maintain simplicity and streamline construction. Prefabrication was used wherever to minimise site impact time and therefore cost.
The development uses high efficiency LED lighting throughout, however, the most sustainable feature of its design is the “reversible” nature of the new construction fabric. This means that a future generation may yet modify the space again and not diminish the listed GPO façade.
• Brendan Gaffney – Project Director
• Spyros Barberis – Project Leader
• Mark Sierzchula – Design Leader
• Patricia Bozyk - Architectural Assistant
• Heritage expert - Ruth Woods Architect
Winner: Best in State (Commercial) - AIDA Awards Commended: Heritage projects - AIA State Awards Summary: This project has completely transformed the main entry foyer of 259 Queen St commercial tower for the building owners, Investa. The upgrade increases area by 30%, integrating sympathetically with the heritage listed GPO via a minimalist glass canopy. The result is a modern, light-filled entrance with cathedral-like volume. The foyer to the flagship building in the heart of...
- Year 2018
- Work finished in 2018
- Status Completed works
- Type Office Buildings