Ulster Lane

  • 2021

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed By:

  • Cameron & Co Architecture

Commissioned By:

Aria Property Group

Designed In:


Ulster Lane is the conversion of a former service alleyway and carpark into a new, small-scale pedestrian-only city laneway filled with dining, retail and upper level workspaces. Layers of historic refurbishments of the original two-storey corner building have been delicately pared back to create a timelessly beautiful city space.

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Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott
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  • The overall challenge of this project was to create a new and densely-activated public laneway environment in what was formerly very much a back-of-house service alleyway packed with all manner of plant & equipment, pipework, waste, and of course vehicles accessing the rear carpark at all hours. With the original, non-heritage-listed but very early 20th-century building having received many minor additions and refurbishments over its century or so of existence, it was a significant challenge to initially uncover the truly original fabric and structure of the building in order to establish the starting point for any new work.

  • The solution proposed was to "tactically demolish" all services and infrastructure from the laneway, as well as banish all vehicles from the small city site which was already well served with kerbside loading opportunities. Old layers of paint and render were removed to reveal a characterful brick facade full of varied window openings, and a new concrete "core" structure was built into an existing recess in order to provide lift and stair access between the laneway level and the new office tenancies above. New food tenancies were proposed using leftover spaces that could open directly onto the laneway.

  • Brisbane as a city is severely under-serviced in terms of the number, quality and variety of fine-grained public spaces. With malls and footpath-fronting retail aplenty, the city still lacks the sorts of spaces that make city living truly unique and engaging and can imbue a globally-aspiring city such as Brisbane with a distinct personality. Ulster Lane takes a small step toward addressing this shortfall by proposing a lushly landscaped, pedestrian-only, eating, drinking, shopping and working environment without any local precedent.

  • Rather than being a "big idea, big diagram" sort of project, Ulster Lane is moreso a heterogeneous collection of details and vignettes that have been carefully curated together to form a cohesive and compelling whole. The old bitumen driveway has been replaced with a textural surface of porphyry cobbles, which themselves have been flush set and carefully set out in order to ensure disability access throughout to all of the complex interrelated levels of this old an irregular building. The windows of various shapes and sizes fronting the laneway have been re-finished and very finely re-framed, with the main arch-topped window to the upper level featuring a display box that extrudes and truncates the arch window form as an internal volume toward the street. Because the laneway remains an easement favouring an adjoining owner (the Catholic church), nothing permanent could be constructed in the lane. Therefore, all planting, lighting and screening elements had to be designed and fabricated to be lightweight and removable in the event that access may be required.