Over their twenty years in practice, Queensland-based architectural firm bureau^proberts has avoided becoming stagnant or pigeonholed into a particular style. Their portfolio of projects – which spans residential, education, commercial, public, interiors and masterplanning – is indicative of a sort of permanent dexterity and responsiveness to site. From the honeycomb façade of their Garden Heights project in Cairo to Townsville’s Piccadilly, a more typical yet colourful multi-residential block, it’s hard to pick out an idiosyncratic bureau^proberts project.
The same is not necessarily true of multi-disciplinary artist, Hiromi Tango, who has become known for her kaleidoscopic, immersive and highly sculptural assortments of objects, materials and stories. This is why, when it came time to re-think the high-end fashion precinct of Edward Street in Brisbane, the two were such a complementary match.
Over three years, Brisbane City Council has contributed $11 million towards the Edward Street Upgrade Project. A large part of this was intended to make the street more activated, and engaging to its users. Art and architecture – and the combination of the two – are key to this activation.
Hiromi Tango and bureau^proberts were approached to create pieces of “urban sculpture” that were robust enough to handle the traffic of the street, yet elegant enough to reflect their context within the fashion precinct. The two resulting glass vitrines are reminiscent of museum glass showcases that, with the help of Hiromi Tango’s brightly coloured, eerily lit and strangely visceral assortment of fabrics, act as key visual markers along Edward Street.
“We worked with Brisbane City Council on the development of the vitrines with the vision to create high-quality installations that reflect the detail and sophistication of the high-level brands on offer [along] Edward Street,” says bureau^proberts director, Christopher Chetham.
Describing the project as a “microcosm of design”, Chetham says that, “[from] a design perspective, the vitrines had the same structural complexities as a small house needing a floor, door, roof, walls and cladding [as Tango needed to work inside the vitrine during installation]. They also required complex steel fabrication and embossing.
“We recessed track spot lighting into the suspended grid ceiling and ventilation was included to aid climate control in the enclosed glass box.”
The artwork within the vitrines will change seasonally to link with broader fashion trends, curated by Brisbane City Council as part of an initiative to provide opportunities for design, art and fashion students.