Saturday, December 5, 2009


Happy Haus


You could glance at this first image and briefly mistake it for a house in a 'suburban setting' - oh how nice it would be to have no fences? - anyway on closer review you'll notice it's a/the White Series Happy Haus by architects Owen and Vokes, located in southbank, corner grey and tribune streets.

So what's a Happy Haus?? Here is some recent press that best describes what it's all about... GREEN MAGAZINE article

Gardens and water storage have also been considered (pineapples in the garden look tasty, give them a few weeks and they be ready for picking)
it's great to see an example of (prefab) sustainable architecture pop up in the flesh - a positive step towards educating the general public!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

1909 Treasury Building

Another one from Mike – this one about the original design for the treasury building – see the model of the original proposal just to the right of centre -

1909 treasury bldg scale model

 Image sourced from Picture Queensland

I did not realise the Treasury Building was designed with this enormous tower emerging from it!  Love this strategy – design a building of good quality and add a preposterous feature which can be removed to save money and then the building you want, gets built!  This model is being displayed in the Brisbane Exhibition Building in 1909.  Like the timber screens!

They really don’t make things like they used to.

Norman Park in the 1950’s

This is another guest post from Michael Scott – a veritable gold mine of interesting bits and pieces of information about the history of our city.

norman park houses 1950Image sourced from Picture Australia

…first saw this when I was working for BCC and was startled to realise how recent this development was – this is Housing Commission houses in Norman Park in the 1950s – Norman Park is now considered a relatively inner suburb but the long rows of back yard dunnies looks like an old pattern of development in a newly developing suburb, so I initially thought it was a 19th century photo. 

It wasn’t till I looked more closely at the houses and saw they were cheap post-war houses that the date made sense.  Of course it wasn’t till Clem Jones came along in the 1960s and half-sewered Brisbane that these earth closets made their way onto the back landings of the houses, as sewered toilets.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Old Space

Artists are always on the look out for good real estate. The Brisbane art scene has a healthy community of artists inhabiting un-loved spaces and making them their own.
The Old Space, 62 Abbotsford Road Bowen Hills, inhabits an old warehouse building which is awaiting new development. Filled with resident artists, Matt Malone and his crew have created a Funky ass space to work and exhibit in.
Recently opened to the public for the BARI festival this space and the art in it are well worth checking out.
Above is a piece by resident artist and gallery founder Matt Malone (Don't worry Matt, we still need you).

Make sure you stay tuned for upcoming exhibitions.

Oh yeah....and they have got a crazy machine that blows smoke rings.
All photos taken by raw Brisbane talent Sam Scoufos.
For sub-cultural rara check out:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BCEC is underway!

It's underway, earth is moving and the cranes are working!

The new Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre expansion at Grey Street has begun - set to be a dynamic addition to the Southbank Precicnt, BCEC is 'due' to open in 2011, read more about it here... MEDIA LINK

Friday, September 4, 2009

good media!

Article source; State Library of Queensland Magazine, Spring 2009, page 02

I remember visiting the State Library during high school, in the late 90's, honestly it wasa pretty drab and daunting experience, both times.

I found this article both relevant and important in that it is from the 'buildings users' perspective, purely on a level that is concerned about innovation and people, backed up with real facts and ideas about the buildings usage and success.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

SAP Exhibition.... Michael Philips

Another great evening at SAP in the Fortitude Valley, which is seemingly and arguably becoming the new heart of Brisbane!

Consistency in 'design' is crucial! SAP is continually providing a great space for local designer's to exhibtion new and exciting works whilst bringing together a range of brisbonites in a simple way... I particularly like that the bar was shoved out the back!

Michael Philips presented the 'Bean Prints' in a range of mediums... my favourite was the large format in the canvas version...

Michael (Philips) and Peter (Harding) collaborated on the night, adding another layer to the exhibtion and presentation of the space!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Brisbane Switched on to Retrofit?

With approximately 50% of the worlds population now living in cities, it makes it easier to understand how buildings currently consume 40% of the worlds energy. The idea of retro fitting our cities for sustainability has come as a welcome change. But hey….that's gonna be one hell of a renovation project!
Map of the world in city lights. Image sourced from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Go Brisbane!

Marcus Westbury is a man who wears many hats. You might know him from such ABC docos as ‘Not Quite Art’, and other endeavours such as Renew Newcastle, and the ‘This is not art’ festival. He describes himself as a ‘broadcaster, writer, media maker and festival director’, but he is also actively involved in the creative industries and writes about media, culture and politics for a variety of different publications across Australia.

He is basically the ‘go to’ guy for an opinion on anything related to arts and culture.

On his own blog - – he has recently published his thoughts about the cultural lives 4 Australian cities – Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. He manages to dissect the traditional stereotypes (Brisbane = big country town; Sydney = Busy etc) and provide an informed insight into the state of the cultural pulse which runs through these cities.

Brisbane gets a rave review, which confirms what much of us already know about Brisbane, that it is growing up and there’s alot to be exited about. Here’s a cut & paste:

…Further north, something equally interesting is happening in Brisbane.

Compared with its complacent southern sisters, Brisbane feels young, dynamic and eager to try things. Brisbane is well beyond aspiring to be Sydney or Melbourne and is becoming a city that connects with Asian centres to the north and across the Pacific archipelago. Signature events such as the Asia Pacific Triennial, Multimedia Art Asia Pacific and programs of Chinese and other Asian art at the Gallery of Modern Art all reflect this.

Brisbane is also home to a creative tension and fusion between art and pop culture, culture and technology — itself reflective of an Asian dynamic — that makes for distinctive creative ground.

Read the rest of it here.

Go Brisbane! Woot!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

keep it simple! thanks Akira...

As a designer I find it humbling to experience 'design' in such a simple manner, to me it feels more accessible and a whole lot more inspiring!

The Akira Isogawa store in the fortitude valley is so simple it's almost hard to write about - it's a tall well (naturally) lit homely space supplemented with 34 incandescent pendant lights, a few bits of well lived furniture, manual till system, really tall mirrors, oh and amazing clothes! I think that's the point!!

Akira Isogawa is well known throughout the world for his designs, yet when there is a sale on (speaking from experience) he will be there in the store to share the experience with his 'consumers' - good stuff!

“I see craftsmanship as an implement with which to realise one’s vision. Past, present and future; that slogan continues in almost everything around which my work evolves. Timeless beauty and femininity in my design is profound, in a way for the wearer to express their inner soul.”

— Akira Isogawa

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sometimes even the dumbest things can be poetic


Can you guess how many toilets are in this toilet block? I think that once you have studied architecture you start to find beauty in some of the most unlikely places. Maybe there’s something wrong with me though.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Campos Coffee - Adaptive Reuse!

What used to be an electrical storage warehouse is now a great place to enjoy quality coffee / food and hang out on some astro turf and crates (I am pretty sure the crates are 'borrowed' from the neighbouring fish market, they have cushions on them now so it's hard to notice, top marks for innovation!!)

Campos coffee sits in a laneway behind the busy James St markeplace, Fortitude Valley. I have only recently become aware of the ideas around adaptively reusing buildings - to me this is a pretty damn good example, especially considering that the existing building was relatively plain and insignificant.

Before shots  {sourced from Campos}

Now shots {sourced from Studio Plus }

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kurilpa Bridge

Kurilpa Bridge. How cool does it look?

Mixed reactions from the range of people that I talk to, and it's hard to make a generalisation about what kind of people find it attractive and what kind of people don't.

Perhaps it's a tall poppy thing, but it seems as though anything new in the public realm in Brisbane that draws attention to itself gets criticized for not looking like a normal building, or not looking like a normal bridge.

"I don't like all those spiky bits" they say. "Are those things going to stay there? It doesn't look like they're supposed to be there"

I remember people saying the same thing about Brisbane Square. One of my lecturers said, "it's dated, and its not even finished yet." Sure, I mean the primary coloured geometric thing has been done before in other places, but not in Brisbane. I think that Brisbane Square really adds something positive to the fabric of the city, a city in which mediocrity has reigned supreme for the last half-century.

The same goes for the Kurilpa Bridge. Sure, its different, and it will take the untrained eye some time to get used to, and one day an oversized truck might clip the underside of it, forcing it to fling back like a mouse trap and crush GOMA, catapulting unfortunate passengers into the middle of West End. At the end of the day though, it too adds something really positive to the city, a dedicated pedestrian link to the new cultural hub of Brisbane, and I think this is a good thing.

Plus, I can't wait to see it lit up at night. It's going to look unreal.

I think that ventures like this encourage public debate about what is good design, and raise the bar for the future at the same time. Some designers and laypeople alike might rag on it, because its such an easy target. But sometimes you need to stir the pot a little bit to get people moving, and Brisbane has been waiting for a few projects like this to stir the pot for a very long time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Aville Court is just about gone

This is a short guest post from Michael Scott, Architect, Brisbane enthusiast.

Heritage Listed 1930s block of 6 flats in New Farm - Aville Court, was recently bought by a Developer and gutted (legally acceptable, but ruthless). 8 storey building could soon to be built on this site!

You can read more about it here. Only keeping two walls is a bit of a joke, really.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

City Fringe Exhibition "Phoebe"

I think James Sreet is an eclectic and vibrant street that just keeps developing, both physically and culturally!

Last week, the James Street 'newcomber', Small Australian Projects (SAP) opened its design exhibition series, 'On Show', with a lighting exhibition by local designer Peter Harding.
All sourced images: Christina Cho

It was a simple and well executed night with all the right ingredients... Live Jazz, good New Zealand wine and a collection of vibrant people.

"Brisbane is a very happening young design community and a fantastic place from which to work and get your ideas out there.

The support for the launch and the product itself was really exciting. It will be interesting now to see where Phoebe roams!”

Peter Harding 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Queen Street Mall

I think it kind of makes sense to start in the middle of the city.

A few years ago, one of my tutors at university once said to me - 'architects don't talk about the new addition to the queen street mall' - he was referring to the giant steel, timber and glass shade structure at the centre of Queen and Albert, which was part of a much larger redevelopment of the mall that took place right at the end of the nineties. Being young and impressionable at the time, I just laughed and pretended to understand and agree. But looking back on it now - I completely disagree.

The style of the new structure could be described as typical noughties Queenslander - light, airy, plenty of timber battening, with steel and glass extrusions that defy gravity and appear as though the structure could pick up and walk down the street like a giant ant.

In the case of the Queen Street Mall, interventions like this contribute to the dynamic history of the place, and I like the way that each generation has contributed something, be it the awful neon lights of Hungry Jacks, or the most recent development, still under construction, which I think is starting to look like a designer handbag.

Image Source: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

It is rare that the buildings in the background are ever the focus of attention - yet when I look at them I can't help but wonder what kinds of stories they would have to tell, if they could adopt human personalities for a day. These buildings are the survivors, witness to the relentless growth of a vibrant city which sadly demolished so much of its heritage on the way up.

I think that the most successful additions to the city are those which are 'of their time'. Buildings, like photographs, capture a moment in history. Years on, they act like a window to the past and enable future generations to gain an understanding of what life was like in the old days.

I think the aforementioned steel and glass shade structure that architects are not supposed to talk about is most definitely 'of its time', and in 100 years time, when our great grandchildren are flying around in these, they will look down to the corner of Queen and Albert and remember how, at the turn of the century there was a prosperous generation who, in a fleeting lightbulb moment, built this whopping great big shade structure - realising that it was much nicer to sit outside in the shade than it was to sit in the air conditioning of Hungry Jacks.