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The road to Brisbane 2032: How is the city’s design landscape evolving ahead of the Olympics?

We spoke to Plus Architecture’s Chrisney Formosa about a string of recent Brisbane projects and what they might tell us about the city’s design evolution.

The road to Brisbane 2032: How is the city’s design landscape evolving ahead of the Olympics?

Rotherham Hotel.

Plus Architecture recently revealed designs for Rotherham Hotel, a new boutique hotel in Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point precinct. The 179-key, 16-level, 15,500-square-metre hotel (pictured with renders below) raises the question of how the city’s design landscape is changing, especially in relation to the 2032 Olympics. Here’s what Plus Architecture Principal, Chrisney Formosa, had to say on the topic.

Indesignlive: Looking at a sectors such as hotel design, what is Brisbane missing – or what can it add – ahead of the Olympics?

Chrisney Formosa: An individualised personality. We have a lot of branded, large hotel chains but a lack of Brisbane-centric hotels that celebrate the locale and encapsulate the essence of what and who we are. Let’s face it: we are different to the other states – the way we live is different. We are relaxed, and our lifestyle defines us. When you travel to San Francisco you are undeniably in ‘San Fran,’ same with New York – the experience of the hotels are undeniably of that place.

What Brisbane needs is an exciting celebration of who we are – connecting to the place, to the people, to the lifestyle and the locals.

In the absence of design that is connected to place, much of Brisbane’s environment will be commercialised and perceived as disposable because it lacks identity and soul.

What opportunities does the Olympics provide for designers in the city?

The World Expo 88 had a hugely transformative impact on the city’s development, putting Brisbane on the global map. The 2032 Olympic Games provides a similar opportunity for the city.

The investment of capital gives designers a platform to define the city, considering what Brisbane is and can be, and to craft a unique identity that can be celebrated locally and on a global stage too.

It provides an opportunity to harness the investment in infrastructure – hotels, community, sports, retail, residential and placemaking – to create a legacy that will serve future generations long after the 2032 Olympics have taken place.

Tell us about some of the work going on at Plus Architecture in Brisbane?

At Plus Architecture, we specialise in designing and delivering couture architecture – working with clients from the start to develop a brief and ultimately a design that meets their specific needs. With a strong focus on experiential design, we’re excited to be exploring opportunities to apply this approach across different market sectors – to create destinations that create lasting memories. Some of the projects we are currently working on Brisbane are Rotherham Hotel, and River House and Ascot Row – both residential projects.

Related: The ‘missing middle’ in Australia’s urban density with SJB

How do your designs tell the city’s story?

Our approach is centred around creating designs that connect to place – understanding and designing for each individual locale is at the heart of everything we do. There is a story to be told on every site – a story about the past, but also a story about the future.

For example, our design for Rotherham Hotel is inspired by the architectural language of its iconic surroundings whilst forging a distinct new identity. Paying homage to the adjacent and renowned Story Bridge, the exteriors of the hotel are defined by striking green brickwork and bold geometric shapes that reference the bridge’s heritage design. Large porthole-shaped windows – a nod to the Story Bridge’s foundations – welcome expansive views of the city skyline and the river, allowing natural light to fill the interiors and providing connection to the vibrant sub-tropical surrounds.

Imbued with a strong focus on storytelling through bespoke design, the hotel anticipates the continued growth of an emerging traveller demographic: young individuals seeking out dynamic and artfully curated accommodation.

What new or changing demographics do you expect to come with the Olympics?

We expect to see the 2032 Olympic Games drive incredible growth in the city. It’s a really exciting time for Brisbane, for Queensland and for Australia. Capitalising on the opportunity will have benefits across all sectors which will boost investment, immigration and development.

What trends do you think we’ll see in the built environment in the lead-up to and aftermath of the Brisbane Olympics?

We will probably see two trends. One will be about ‘just build more’ – which is a considerable risk because it can create ‘Olympic-purposed cities’ which can be homogenous and temporal, but leave long lasting imprints on the city.

The other trend will allow for clever design and opportunities to uncover unrealised placemaking, adding true value and an enduring legacy for the people of Brisbane.

Plus Architecture

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