The Buchan Group has been engaged to refurbish Fortitude Valley’s historic TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings and transform the ground floor into a new urban retail precinct.

The TC Beirne Building began its life in 1902 as a department store designed by Brisbane architect Robin Dodds. During the 1950s, the TC Beirne building and the nearby McWhirters established Fortitude Valley as the largest shopping precinct outside of a central business district in Australia.

Under the latest urban renewal project, the ground floor of the TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings will be transformed into The Arcade and The Beirne Laneway to form a new centrepiece for food, beverage and retail in Fortitude Valley. The refurbishment project was initiated following the decision to convert the upper levels of the TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings into a new commercial start-up precinct.

T C Beirne building, Fortitude Valley, 1947. Image: The Fashion Archives


The Buchan Group Senior Architect Katrina Tolhurst observed that the refurbishment project presented a unique opportunity to celebrate the architectural heritage of one of the Valley’s most distinctive buildings and reclaim its position as a premier retail destination. The building’s dual street presence on the Chinatown and Brunswick Street Malls, allowed for the two precincts to be linked by retail and dining tenants.

A new central arcade with access to the commercial foyers above and a repositioned laneway with an expanded food and beverage offering, are some of the newer features in the building. Within these connections, two multi-volume spaces extend upwards, connecting the retail with the commercial precinct above.

A new mesh screen will fold upwards at the entries from China Town Mall and Beirne Lane to create an impressive entry statement that respectfully addresses the textural and materiality qualities of the building’s heritage façade and provides a clear entry node for the retail, food and commercial tenancies within.

A Feature Atrium would sit within the central arcade and celebrate the heritage volume that extends upwards into the commercial spaces above. Ornamentation will be removed from the structural elements of the Atrium to reinvigorate and express the strength of the raw materials used in the building’s original construction. A feature fabric sculpture suspended from the ceiling will help to define this area and its connection to the commercial lift foyer.

According to Tolhurst, the Beirne Laneway will extend inwards from the Brunswick Street Mall, between the TC Beirne Building itself and the adjacent building, allowing for an expansion of the food and beverage offering. Moving through the Beirne Laneway and back inside, the Urban Court will link the central arcade to a new commercial office entry stairway, as well as new retail offerings and existing commercial foyers.

The existing tenancy walls and structural elements will also be stripped of ornamentation to express the raw heritage qualities of the existing building. Tolhurst adds that the abundance of natural light from the skylights above this area makes it a key location to provide seating and amenity as well as a feature exposed brick wall with street art to celebrate the verticality of the space.

Images: TC Beirne Urban Plaza