Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Urban Regeneration: Gold Coast Cultural Centre

July 23, 2015

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BRISBANE – The CTBUH Australia Chapter’s Brisbane Committee held the second of its Urban Regeneration Breakfast Seminars on Thursday July 23, 2015. More than 100 people attended an engaging presentation on the design competition for the Gold Coast Cultural Centre. This seminar explored the backstory that created a brief for the new Gold Coast Cultural Centre, including the international design competition, shortlisting, as well as the outcome of the selection.
ACTBUH Australia Chairman John Flynn gave a snapshot of some exciting developments in tall buildings, with an emphasis on several proposed Queensland projects. He then introduced the three seminar speakers:
  • Malcolm Middleton, Queensland Government Architect
  • Tory Jones, GCCC Executive Coordinator Major Projects
  • Howard Raggatt, Director, ARM Architecture
Malcolm Middleton began with an overview of the competition and the jury assessment process through the two-stage competition. He noted that the Stage One of the competition had attracted 75 entries from across the globe. The diverse group of entries comprised 55% from overseas, 25% from Queensland, and another 20% from interstate Australia. After careful deliberations the jury selected three teams to compete in Stage Two of the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct Design Competition. The three teams were:
Gold Coast Cultural Precinct: Living Arts Centre
Stage Two involved a 12-week intensive design period in which teams were asked to further develop their design proposals, and to provide costing and phasing plans. Each Stage Two team received AUD$250,000 to support their plans. Following this design phase, the jury met again to consider the teams’ Stage Two submissions. They unanimously selected ARM Architecture as the competition winner.
John Flynn, CTBUH Australia, Chairman Malcolm Middleton, Queensland Government, Architect
The jury members included Professor Gordon Holder (Foundation Head of Architecture at Griffith University), Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, Gold Coast Deputy Mayor Councillor Donna Gates, Professor Michael Sorkin (Principal of the Michael Sorkin Studio), Professor Geoffery London (Victorian Government Architect), Greg Forgan-Smith (Past president of RAIA Gold Coast Region), Professor Helen Armstrong (Emeritus Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Queensland University of Technology), Destry Puia (General Manager of The Arts Centre Gold Coast) and John Kotzas (Chief Executive of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre).

Tory Jones gave a fascinating account of her experience with tall buildings in the Gold Coast, where she has lived and worked since 1994 after migrating from Melbourne. For more than 20 years she has been keenly observing, considering, and photographing the Gold Coast’s tall buildings. She discussed how she had arrived at three key understandings of these towers. These were:
  • While few of the Gold Coast’s tall buildings are architecturally significant in and of themselves, they create significant collective clusters that define the urban structure of the Gold Coast;
  • They are all “Tall Buildings on Holidays” – resort style with balconies and landscaped grounds in tropical settings; and
  • There was a remarkable variety in styles and forms.
Tory Jones, Gold Coast City Council, Executive Coordinator – Major Projects
Tory went on to discuss the evolution of the concept of a tall building for the Cultural Precinct, rather than the usual low, wide, and flat building style. This concept was not originally included in the shortlisted Stage One competition entries but emerged through their concept development in Stage Two.

She concluded by discussing the merits of ARM’s Art Tower as a new typology for an Arts Museum in three categories:
  • Spectacle – a beacon from afar and a destination with a new cultural corridor;
  • Point of Difference – colorful faceted glass façade poised like a palace within a subtropical garden; and
  • Functional Efficiency – access and circulation, flexibility, and adaptability.

Howard Raggatt offered an interesting synopsis of another recent ARM project in Melbourne. A 32-story apartment block at the Carlton end of Swanston Street which features – in an architectural world first – the image of indigenous leader William Barak across its 100-meter-high, sculpted façade.

Portrait of indigenous hero William Barak on Swanston Square Apartment Tower, Melbourne
When completed in 2014, Barak's image on the Portrait building, on the former Carlton & United Brewery site, will be in direct line of site of the Shrine of Remembrance, nearly three kilometers away. ''The Shrine is about honoring a great set of Australians who made a sacrifice to Australia, and this is also honoring a great set of Australians who made a sacrifice for Australia.'' The image of the tribal chief's face, sculpted in light and shade using the building's white concrete balconies, will be best seen from a vantage point on Swanston Street, near Lonsdale Street. Over 4,800 different façade sections were fabricated to create this stunning building.
Howard went on to discuss the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct site which is 11 hectares of centrally-located land at Evandale, framed by the Nerang River and views to the Surfers Paradise skyline and Gold Coast hinterland. The Council’s vision for the site conjures a dynamic, seamless interaction between indoor and outdoor experiences. The precinct will be activated through a rich and ever-changing artistic program and energized by cafes and restaurants, production studios, and showrooms for arts and creative industries. Artscape outdoor civic gardens will interface with a New Arts Museum and Living Arts Centre, and a green bridge will link to Chevron Island.
Howard Raggatt, ARM Architecture, Director
Howard discussed the creative design process their team went through to arrive at the winning design. He discussed the inspiration gained from:
He also discussed the constant change and unpredictability of the buildings at the Gold Coast. The team’s search for the project’s DNA resulted in a “Eureka” moment of the idea of masterplan and tower, modelled on a cellular vine leaf. This resulted in a self-generating mathematical system to produce the general form of the site’s masterplan which can be constantly reinterpreted.

Although the tower was not introduced until the second stage of the project, it represents a vertical eruption of life force similar to “Jack and the Beanstalk,” erupting and generating itself into a tall tower.

The concept includes a double helix external spiral stair around the outside of the building which leads to a launch point for bungee jumping. The building includes over 6,000 square meters of exhibition space with a 1,000 sqm theatre at ground floor. The large podium supports a 14-story building that is just under 100 meters tall, which is equivalent to a 30-story residential tower.

Malcolm Middleton delivered thanks on behalf of the event sponsors, BIP (Building Information and Policy) Division of the Department of Housing and Public Works.
Vidoes of the talks are available online here:

Introduction: John Flynn

Tory Jones, GCCC

Howard Raggatt, ARM Architecture
Attendees Company
Colin Kitto Adco Constructions
Derek Forbes AECOM
Aaron Laurence AECOM
Wayne Blaire AECOM
Nathan Scott AECOM
Tom Dawes AECOM
Andrew Gutteridge Arkhefield
Howard Raggatt ARM
Ian Ainsworth Arup
Craig Gibbons Arup
Andy Bradley Arup
Tim Walker Arup
Alistair Hall Arup
Kalpesh Patel Arup
Richard Kirk Australian Institute of Architects - Qld President
Giorgio Giaroli BG Group Engineers
John Maclean BG Group Engineers
Brett Taylor Bornhorst & Ward
David Teakle Bornhorst + Ward
Eric Ness-Wilson Bornhorst + Ward
Michael Kumala Bornhorst + Ward
Robert Gray Bornhorst + Ward
Paul Kelly Bornhorst + Ward
Martin Henry Broad Construction Services (Qld) Pty Ltd
Don Rivers Building Industry and Policy - Assistant Director-General
Logan Timms Building Industry and Policy - Executive Director
Amanda Allen Building Industry Engagement - Unit Manager
Julia Willis Building Industry Engagement Unit - Policy Research Officer
David Kelly BVN Architects
Scott Hardcastle BVN Architects
John Flynn Conrad Gargett
Bruce Wolf Conrad Gargett
Harm Hollander Conrad Gargett
Christopher Hall-Jordan Conrad Gargett
Kris-Tanya Louca Conrad Gargett
Paul Emmett Conrad Gargett
Claire Bazeley Conrad Gargett
Nic Martoo Conrad Gargett
Brendan Roffey Conrad Gargett
Jessica Shannon Conrad Gargett
Anh Ho Conrad Gargett
Melanie Robson Conrad Gargett
Lawrence Toaldo Conrad Gargett
Richard Coulsen Cox Rayner
Alex Leese Cox Rayner
Michael Bailey Cox Rayner
Christian Skou csarchitects
Georgy De Leon csarchitects
David Brock Cushway Blackford
David Thomson Cushway Blackford
Neil Koest Decmil Australia
Dave Evans Director – Building Policy and Practice
Elwyn Dixon Donald Cant Watts Corke
Scott Chapple dwp|suters
Greg Chemello Economic Development Queensland - Deputy Director-General, Planning Group and General Manager,
Tim Poole, Gold Coast Evolution
Gordon Holden Griffith University - Professor - Discipline Head, Architecture
Greg Baumann Hansen Yuncken
Paul Smith Hansen Yuncken
Kylie Rowlands Hendry Group
Eddie Gangemi Hutchinson Builders
Richard Sale Jackson Architecture
Chris Wright Knight Frank
Lachlan Hateley Knight Frank
Andrew Neighbour Lat 27
Yves DuBois MBMpl
Dan Caldwell McKenzie Group
Cameron McLean McLean Consult
Andrew Gentner NDY
Jeff Marchant Norman Disney & Young
Darryl Brabbins Norman Disney & Young
John McIntosh Norman Disney & Young
Jonathan McCowen Norman Disney & Young
Sean Bell Norman Disney & Young
Frank Bakker Norman Disney & Young
Joe O’Brien Northrop Consulting Engineers
Justin Davies Northrop Consulting Engineers
Mark Sturgess Northrop Consulting Engineers
Roger Macknish Opus
Brian Wooldridge Opus
David Norris Opus
Peter Czyszek Opus
Mark Kreutz Opus
Brett Hudson Peddle Thorp
Ben Thomas Peddle Thorp
Henry Bennet Peddle Thorp
Tory Jones QCCC
Malcolm Middleton Queensland Government Architect – Building Industry and Policy
Mirko Guaralda QUT
Neil Watson Savills
Uma Ranchigoda Springfield Land Corporation
Chad Brown Thomson Adsett
Michael Kusluk TVS Architects
Jose Torero University of Queensland
Cora Pulnicki University of Queensland
Liam MacKichan University of Queensland
Peter Spearritt University of Queensland
Mark Hargraves Urban Development, Economic Development Queensland - Executive Director
Matt Berndt Videographer
John Thong Wilson Architects
Shaun Purcell Wilson Architects