Architect Shane Plazibat, Principal and Founder of Plazibat Architects, is carving out a new direction for multi-residential design in the city where he was born and raised. 

“Ours is a pretty wonderful environment to live in, thanks to ample sunlight, cool breezes and warm temperatures much of the year,” Plazibat says. 

“It makes sense that our future multi-residential developments be designed to protect and promote that climate.” 

This design approach was recently honoured at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Queensland Regional Architecture Awards. 

Lucent, a multi-residential development in Newstead, was designed by Plazibat Architects and awarded 'The Lord Mayor's Brisbane Buildings that Breathe Architecture' Prize. 

The project encapsulates the Brisbane City Council’s new design guidelines to “embrace Brisbane’s subtropical climate and showcase the city’s urban character and outdoor lifestyle”. 

Lucent comprises a 15-storey tower that’s home to 190 apartments and a ground-floor retail space that can accommodate up to five tenancies plus a mezzanine tenancy. 

Outdoor spaces are a key element of Lucent’s design. Shane describes the ground floor of the building as akin to an “island”. 

Here, cascading planting sits atop a large concrete awning suspended overhead, providing shade from the sun and protection from summer storms. 

Meanwhile, by locating vehicle access and refuse/service areas elsewhere, the design maximises the available outdoor space on Lucent’s corner site.

A “pocket park” of lush lawn and planting adjoins the retail space, and provides respite for future  diners, tenants and pedestrians. “We were determined to create zones that not only enlivened the space for residents but also made a positive contribution to the wider community as well,” Shane says.

“In big urban cities such as ours, people respond to greenery and natural, tactile materials.” Consequently, plentiful planting, natural stone cladding, timber joinery, off-form concrete and tumbled marble are among the materials to be found at the entrance to Lucent.

Upstairs, residents enjoy large balconies and a rooftop “oasis” that features a 55-metre swimming pool — under which rainwater collection tanks are housed to irrigate all of Lucent’s landscaping. 

“We thought of the rooftop as serving the same purpose as a more traditional “backyard” so we created a space suitable for entertaining, exercising and relaxation.” 
Mindful that Brisbane’s western sun can be extremely harsh, western orientation of the building has been minimised with north orientation maximised where possible – to capture and capitalise on the warmth of Brisbane’s morning sun. 

Apartments also benefit from extensive glazing. On each floor, much of the glass façade extends 2.7m from floor to ceiling. “It’s very important for people to access natural daylight — not only to reduce the cost of artificial lighting but to help promote a sense of calm and wellbeing too,” Shane says. 

A series of large sliding screens are operable by residents to control light and privacy for their living and bedroom spaces. 

“This allows occupants to take ownership over what happens in their own spaces, which are essentially micro-environments within Lucent,” Shane explains. 

In common areas, gardens and louvers are located at either end of the long corridors that separate north and south-facing apartments. 

“If there’s a breeze coming through that part of the city, it comes right through the building thanks to this device that naturally ventilates the tower,” Plazibat says. 

According to Plazibat, as the city grows, it’s likely more and more people (especially downsizers and empty nesters) will transition from suburban lots of land to inner-city apartments. 

“We want to design buildings that these people can feel proud of — places where they can thrive,” Plazibat says. 

Design Manager David Bell from Cavcorp, the Property Developers responsible for Lucent, praises Shane’s collaborative approach, his efficiency and in-depth understanding of the entire process, from documentation through to construction. 

“Shane’s design is a welcome departure from traditional multi-residential towers,” Bell says. 

“Lucent’s architecture cleverly enables residents to truly engage with their environment — whilst on the ground plane, the building provides Newstead’s locals and visitors with an open and welcoming thoroughfare into the Gasworks’ precinct.”