Cox Architecture Studio Brisbane

  • 2019

  • Architectural
    Interior Design

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

Cox Architecture

Designed In:


This architecture practice sensitively restored their heritage listed 1890 studio, resulting in a creative workplace full of natural light. Formerly a warehouse for metal foundry Smellie&Co, the refurbishment was a journey of exploration and discovery within a space they thought they knew well, being residents of the building since 1998.

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  • The foremost challenge was to design a space to suit both the way the practice works now and how the practice wants to work in the future. The building is positioned next to the Botanical gardens and the Brisbane River, this proximity has been celebrated by providing uninterrupted views across the studio and through the heritage windows. Blending the needs of practice and expressing a sensitivity to context, heritage and location was biggest challenge (and our greatest success).

  • Democratic, open approach to planning was applied. The open kitchen, serving dually as an informal gathering space and a welcome space for clients, occupies the most favourable aspect. Long timber table encourages a convivial atmosphere and provides a focal point for collaboration. The kitchen connects with the boardroom through a series of double height, pivot doors, which creates a ‘Town Hall’. Joinery spine serves as a design review space extends the length of the studio, connecting through a collaborative approach, inviting all participation. The spine bordered by co-working and break-out settings, including Virtual Reality space, team tables and model-making workshop.

  • A design that doesn’t need to shout – engaging with adjacent gardens and river, the heritage building and its crafted secrets, now revealed, provide a wonderfully rich canvas beyond the reach of any material or form. It is naturally ventilated 9 months of the year cutting energy bills by 70%. Waste has been reduced by a remarkable 80% by embracing technology. The new studio has transformed and galvanised us as a practice. It is our identity expressed as form. It’s imbued with our beliefs and our shared passion to create public architecture which balances a high aesthetic with superior function.

  • The team are incredibly proud of the sensitive restoration work carried out during the renovation which has exhibited a sophisticated (and appropriate) level of restraint. The ability to do less and hold back is an underrated skill in design, especially when working with heritage buildings. New interventions are purposefully restrained to maintain the buildings’ original proportions and let the heritage be the hero. This restraint is balanced by incredibly detailed and crafted moments drawn from the building’s metal warehouse heritage. The new palette of black timber, steel and brass detailing draws from the buildings origins as a warehouse for the neighbouring foundry, and from the original and signature cast iron columns. Adding our own contemporary layer to the building has been a fulfilling collaboration. The practice worked with local craftspeople to create an appropriate interior for such a unique building, providing for the future needs of a thoroughly contemporary practice.