Introducing contemporary functionality to an older building is one thing. Doing so seamlessly while retaining a heritage fabric is quite another.
Built in the 1920s in the Classical Revival style, the Brisbane City Hall is a gracious urban landmark and focus of civic pride. Its 10-storey tower was the tallest structure in the inner city until the 1960s.
In 2008, Brisbane City Council recognised that the heritage building needed to be restored to its original grandeur, and at the same time brought up to speed in terms of functionality and code compliance. Subsidence and water ingress had compromised its structural integrity, and fire detection and control systems were inadequate. Adding to the mix, earlier refits, which included faux heritage detailing, mezzanines and services, had detracted from the building's functionality, with service plant obstructing lightwells, and dropped ceilings obscuring original features.
Tanner Kibble Denton Architects (TKD) and GHD, as architects in association, formed TannerGHD for the restoration, which began in 2009. TKD led the design team, with GHD providing support in relationship and contract management, interior design, architectural drafting, risk management and safety in design.
Project leader for TKD, architect Megan Jones, says there were many aspects to the project, from the restoration and updating of the hall's facilities to the seamless insertion of a kitchen and the new Museum of Brisbane on the roof.
"The rejuvenation of the entry foyers, circulation spaces and public amenities was one important focus. Work included cleaning and restoring the white marble floors, mosaic tilework, oak joinery, and bronzed coffered ceilings. Existing stairs, lifts and bathrooms were refurbished and new facilities introduced. The second floor circular corridor, which was clogged with service plant from earlier refits, was rescued and reconfigured."