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.