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    Architects fight for Brisbane's Cultural Precinct under shadow of tall tower plans

    David Wheeldon

    Architects are seeking to protect the heritage of the Queensland Cultural Centre (QCC), considered among Australia’s most successful examples of brutalist architecture.

    Located on Brisbane's riverside, the QCC comprises the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), [Auditorium], Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), the Queensland Museum (QM), Queensland State Library (QSL) and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).

    Designed and built between 1975 and the mid-1980s, the QCC is “a nationally pre-eminent example of Brutalist architecture, an aesthetic movement which was important in the second half of the twentieth century as a reaction to the abstraction associated with international modernism”, according the heritage application lodged by the Australian Institute of Architects Queensland chapter.

    Designed by architect Robin Gibson (1930-2014), it’s considered the most important work of the architect, who dominated Queensland architecture in the second half of the twentieth century. The heritage application also mentions a large number of other Queensland-based consultants and stakeholders for whom this is a defining project.

    The application to the Queensland Heritage Council responds to a draft master plan for the precinct released in May, which could allow 30-storey towers to shadow the area, according to the Brisbane Times.

    The newspaper also noted that Gibson's daughter Tina Gibson, who is now an architect herself and working in Europe, created a Facebook page titled Queensland Cultural Centre Campaign to protest the state government’s plans and oppose the high-rise plans.

    The Institute’s heritage application argues for the exceptional aesthetic significance as a ‘highly unified and sculptural building complex painstakingly realised over more than a decade’.

    “QCC demonstrates key aspects of Brutalism, but softened, and made publicly palatable by its visual unity which results from the dimensional regularity both in plan and section, the repetitive use of cubic forms, often stepped, and consistent and well resolved details. Sand-blasted off-white concrete was been used throughout,” it states.

    The Heritage Council is expected to announce its decision by mid-2015.

    The Institute’s heritage application can be viewed here, including much detail on the original architectural competition, the winning masterplan and the design history and significance of the buildings currently on the site.

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