A classic 1970s Brisbane office tower of concrete, steel and glass that has been not only restored, but also renewed. To achieve this, the vision was to strip away the layers accumulated over the years to reveal the raw strength of the original modernist design, overlaid with new, refined details.
The office tower had been refurbished a number of times previously, and the strong bones of the original architecture had been concealed beneath layers of superficial finishes. Bringing back the elegance of the original form and structure, whilst also giving new life to the building, was a fundamental challenge.
In addition, the original high-modernist architecture was very visually transparent to the street, but offered very little real physical connection. Our primary objective with the refurbishment of the ground level lobby space was to literally open the lobby onto the street and welcome the public inside.
We started with what we call "tactical demolition", stripping away everything that diminished the clarity and strength of the original architecture. This left us with the raw concrete form of the tower, which we left exposed and burnished to a fine finish. The bare minimum of new, very high quality natural materials were then overlaid onto key touch areas for physical and visual tactility.
To open the lobby onto the street we replaced the original fixed frameless glass walls with very large pivoting glass panels. These open automatically when weather permits, which in Brisbane is almost year-round.
This office tower redevelopment has been commercially incredibly successful, with the asset valuation increasing approximately 40% after an expenditure equivalent to only 10% of the original asset value. This significant return directly benefits over half of all Australians who have superannuation with funds invested in property owned by ISPT.
The project carries many environmental benefits. Its new end-of-trip facility caters to over 160 users, enabling sustainable commuting and healthier lifestyles for a large number of building occupants. Most critically of all, our design approach has extended the building's service life significantly, drastically reducing life-cycle environmental impacts.
A major aspect of this project is the very large video artwork that covers the entire ground level core of the tower, facing out into the L-shaped lobby and visible from the street. This video artwork was commissioned in collaboration with Sydney-based visual art agency Vandal, and the video content is specifically created in response to the Queensland environment. Content is refreshed seasonally and reflects different Queensland landscape and environmental phenomena filmed by world-class cinematographers.
The lift interiors have also been converted from awkwardly small moving rooms into expansive, endlessly reflecting prisms. Mirrored surfaces on every wall create incredibly engaging experiences during every lift journey and encourage interaction of fellow passengers. Rather than staring at a spot on a blank wall, passengers find themselves immersed in a space that is fascinating for the eye to wander around and visually amazing in its infinite depth.