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A Year in Review – 2017

Date: 21 December, 2017

Categories: In the field, Ideas + Concepts, Arkhefield Initiatives, Under Construction


Every year begins with its promises and its challenges, and 2017 was true to form. From a standpoint at the end of the year, we realise how much has been achieved in us continuing to dare to make great places and spaces that benefit all.  In this issue of reflection of our 25th year of practice, we look back at our celebration event in August, we identify a sample of 2017 projects, and we spotlight achievements of our people. We hope you can find the time to enjoy reviewing this material from 2017, and we certainly look forward to interacting with you in the New Year, after what hopefully can be described as a safe and restful Christmas break.

We marked our 25 years in practice in many ways, but principally by producing a special edition of our Practice Profile, by curating and developing a photographic exhibition of projects from across this time span, and by holding a celebratory event for staff, and then another with some great people where we contemplated more about our future, though reflecting on a very successful past.  From our simple origins in Brisbane, we remain constantly challenged and inspired to continue our ongoing contributions to the broader built environment here and beyond.


We have perennial discussions internally on what it is that we specialise in, because so often we are asked this, or at other times we are categorised into a particular sector specialisation.  The reality is our 25 year history is underscored not by our specialisation, but by the diversity of our offering and achievements. Within this, we may have been seen to have specialised in, say, houses, transportation, retail or hospitality –  because we have successfully undertaken multiple and noteworthy projects within these sectors.  True as that may be, we put our longevity down to our ability to practice architecture and design from a broad and highly principled perspective.  Indeed, some of our commissions have come about expressly because we are not seen as specialists nor indeed have had any experience in a particular form of development.  They have come about because those clients want us to apply a completely new set of eyes and thinking to their particular design problem – and this is what we do with every design problem with which we are presented.

This is illustrated by the brief array of differing projects we present below and drawn from our diverse activities this year.



The selection we present here can broadly be described as addressing the ever present demands within the sectors of Community and Commerce.  These vary in scale enormously – from a single dwelling house through to a development providing 1200 apartments, and from a coastal club to major passenger terminal facilities.  We hope you enjoy the selection.



Now complete, and handed over to GOLDOC as they prepare for the greatest sporting event in Queensland’s history, this vibrant project is the state’s largest multi-residential development to have been undertaken in a single stage. Sustainability was at the core of the design with the project recently acknowledged as Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star Community by the Green Building Council of Australia.  Arkhefield is proud to have collaborated so successfully with ARM + Archipelago to design and deliver this project for Grocon.  Let the Games begin!


The newly completed Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club contains surf club facilities as well as a supporters club, the latter comprising a 600 seat restaurant, café, bar and gaming lounge.  The client’s competition brief was for a bold and visionary architecture which still maintained references to its functional use as a local surf life-saving club. The design concepts sought to find an identity balancing the building’s dual civic and recreational functions to become a place where the city meets the beach.  Key to the design is a generous, publicly accessible and civic-scaled outdoor room.  The expansive sculpted roof with a dynamic uplit sunscreen contributes to both the casual beach culture and lively Broadbeach street atmosphere.  The Club will be at the centre of the media facility and the volley ball heats during the Games in 2018.



The repurposing of the commercial building on the corner of Adelaide and Wharf Streets to provide high quality student accommodation was completed in 2016.  The 40 level high rise, across Wharf Street, is reported to be the tallest purpose built student accommodation building in the world.  Substantially complete, Hutchinsons will hand over the project for staged occupation early in 2018.  Meanwhile, the third project for Student One is coming out of the ground at the old Elizabeth Arcade site.  This comprises towers at both Elizabeth and Charlotte Streets above a podium which contains “communal heart” facilities and provides for a new retail arcade linking both streets again.  This project should be completed in the first half of 2019. 



And for something quite diverse, Arkhefield are excited to be working on Coral Expedition’s new cruising vessel to create an elegantly relaxed experienced for their guests.  Our joint vision is to design an honest and welcoming reflection of our Queensland culture.  We are creating authentic yet casual spaces that will allow guests to define their own experiences – with materials, art and colours that clearly reference our unique part of Australia.  We feel privileged to be able to infuse our local aesthetic with such a high quality hospitality offering in order to assist the Coral Expeditions team to create personal, intimate and informative expeditions for their adventurous guests. The Coral Adventurer should be taking on its first guests early in 2019.



Through our involvement in the makeover and updating of the River Quays base building in Townsville, we were commissioned to undertake the workplace design for AECOM prior to their relocation from existing premises.  Occupying approx. 1,000m2 of space on the whole of the fifth floor, the design will provide a more contemporary setting – including open work areas across most of the floor with extensive sit-to-stand desking, a generous collaborative space which can be utilised as an indoor cinema, strong emphasis on good staff facilities, ceiling treatments in the more public spaces, and general access to the open air terrace.  Occupation is anticipated to be complete by early January 2018.


This beautiful home retreat, designed for a large family to enjoy and relax in, has just been completed.  The house is nestled into its natural setting, and takes advantage of the surrounding bushland, the contours of the site, and hence the views that are available from prime spaces within the dwelling.  Elements of the house are developed along the site and key living spaces are interconnected with a boardwalk which embraces the outdoor livability of this family retreat.


Following completion of the Southern Food Hall, BAC again commissioned Arkhefield to develop a retail masterplan for the domestic terminal building (DTB).  BAC seeks to capitalise upon the developing attitudes towards air travel, formalising the DTB’s place, economically and socially, as the primary welcoming experience for Brisbane.  Deliverables of the plan included design principles to meet functional, experiential and logistical objectives, taking into account passenger priorities in shaping the eventual terminal experience.  The plan was also required to meet BAC corporate objectives of economic, operational and social sustainability.  This masterplan was completed and approved late in 2017, with detailed design scheduled to take place in 2018.



With the Queensland Government’s approval of the early stage Market Led Proposal (MLP) Stage 2 submission for this $158 million development, the Port of Brisbane has retained Arup, and in turn Arkhefield, to undertake the detailed design development of this 9,300m2 new passenger facility.  The new building and associated parking, landscaping and wharf facilities, located at Luggage Point, will be able to service the mega cruise ships existing and coming into service, which the present facility at Portside is unable to do, due to height restrictions at the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges.  The new terminal, which will support base porting and transit services, will operate over two levels, and provide enclosed and elevated walkway connections from the building to the ships at berth.  With preloading of the site already underway, it is anticipated construction of the new facilities will commence in early 2019.




As with any organisation, we too grow and mature with time, driven of course by the impressive array of human resource talent within.  Building on changes over recent years, the leadership team is particularly pleased to have recently announced a number of promotions within Arkhefield, as well as noting industry acknowledgement of one of our senior team members.


As a reflection of the commitment of these individuals, both to Arkhefield as well as to our broader client and industry base, the leadership team announced the following changes within the practice:



It is also pleasing to note that our Strategic Director Gavan Ranger was recently recognised with a Design Icon award by the Design Institute of Australia (SA/NT) for his previous contributions to the design industry while practicing in South Australia.


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