Sub-tropical specialists reimagine the ‘Queenslander’

By Anthea Belessis
Jan 24, '19 1:53 AM EST
Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones
Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones

Brisbane architectural firm bureau^proberts has totally transformed a pocket of the Brisbane River with the design of ‘Walan’. This 14-storey residential development, located at the river’s edge and adjacent to the Kangaroo Point cliffs, is a contemporary take on the traditional ‘Queenslander’.

Liam Proberts, bureau^proberts Managing and Creative Director says Walan can be described as ‘Queenslanders in the sky’.

“Walan breaks the mould of apartment buildings over the last decade and represents a new era of design for our climate and lifestyle in the river city,” Liam says.

“We thought of each floor like a house in its size and connection to the outside. In a nod to the traditional Queenslander, all rooms open to a veranda edge, providing cross ventilation while maintaining privacy.

“Carefully selected travertines and natural stones for benchtops and walls feature throughout, referencing the surrounding cliffs of Kangaroo Point.”

This connection to the cliffs was a driver for the external expression of the project and its unique façade of specially-designed screens. They reference the fissures and openings of the surrounding cliffs, embedding the building in the landscape of Kangaroo Point. Importantly, the screens also provide a veil between living spaces and external spaces — while modulating the light and heat of the entirely-glass building.

Each whole-of-floor residence has a unique pocket garden, reminiscent of the cliffs and river-scape. Hallways connect with external spaces on the main street elevation, meanwhile full-size trees and shrubs will grow up over two storeys — creating a similar feel to a mature garden in a traditional house.

The screens are sculptured and face a slightly different angle, which creates complexity in the design as well as contributing to the individuality of each residence and house-like feel.

Continuing collaboration

Walan is the second collaboration between bureau^proberts and developer, Cam Ginardi of GBW Group. It follows the international success of their first collaboration on the SILT apartments, situated beneath Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge in Kangaroo Point.

In terms of Walan, Ginardi believes the completely sold-out development is proof that there is a growing demand and appreciation for high-end, well-designed, whole-of-floor apartment living.

“People get all the benefits of a beautifully designed house, in terms of the privacy, scale, connection to the outside and 360-degree aspect, but the convenience of living in an apartment,” he added.

Honouring the past 

The design of Walan maintains the existing heritage building on the site, designed by Elina Mottram (Queensland’s first registered female architect). The building concept is integrated as part of the entire external connections that open to the street and allow it to become part of its inner-city environment.