Heart of the Valley Brought Back To Life

Yesterday marked the official opening of the newly revitalised Brunswick Street Mall in Fortitude Valley. Six months ago, construction began on Brunswick Street Mall, with a distinct objective to not only reinvigorate the precinct visually but to also bring social, cultural and economic benefits to the community.

Lord Major Graham Quirk along with John Cotter (Chairman of the FVEDB) and Julian Simmonds (Councilor within the Brisbane City Council) unveiled what has been an almost two year journey from inception to completion.  Cr Quirk said the refurbishment was all about strengthening the Valley’s daytime economy, helping to attract new investment and reinvigorate established businesses. That the upgrades had a focus on creating economically sustainable retail and entertainment destination, with an emphasis on driving increased visitation. Cr Quirk further said the Valley is already known as a hub for music and entertainment, however this refurbishment will support its reputation and growth as a vibrant mixed-use precinct made up of residential and hotel accommodation , cafés, restaurants, retail business, nightclubs and live music venues.

PLACE Design Group were commissioned to head the project as lead of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture while collaborating with the Brisbane City Council and the FVEDB (Fortitude Valley Economic Development Board) to find a design solution for Brunswick Street Mall.  The final design needed to embrace public realm opportunities, embrace the entertainment precinct that exists and rediscover the creative culture and gritty character that is The Valley.

Shaun Egan, Design Manager at PLACE Design Group says, “It is critical the Brunswick Street Mall redevelopment not only reinvigorates the precinct visually, but also brings social, cultural and economic benefits to the area and these have been the key drivers behind all of our design decisions. We have worked with JMAC Constructions in the redevelopment and have been able to achieve a design that provides clear and open circulation, create areas for performance, outdoor dining opportunities, allow for a rebrand to the markets,  and retained existing trees for shade where possible.”

“The collaborative work unveiled yesterday has been guided by an overall redevelopment of the mall which has strived to create a space for the people of Brisbane that reflects the creative and entertainment focus of the area. Fortitude Valley has a reputation for being gritty, edgy and raw and PLACE Design group wanted the design to reflect that identity while also having a refined design outcome”.

A curatorial theme of resonance and reverberation, managed through Creative Move, has been incorporated into the Mall with two permanent artworks. The artworks which are located in key access points across the Mall to Liquorice Lane and the TC Beirne building and McWhirters, aim to make the area visually appealing while reflecting and appreciating the history of the Valley.  The intricate Ground Plane Artwork by Jennifer Marchant which is titled the ‘Sunset Strip’ aims to pay homage to the musicians and their contribution to the music scene over the last 20-30 years. The themes of amplification, vibration, intensification, energy, history and cultural memory were incorporated into the two locations of the work, offering a poetic insight into moments of time and emotion. The works have been sandblasted and includes lyrics from some of Brisbane most loved bands.  The suspended Catenary Artwork by Sandra Selig, titled ‘Echo Orbit’, designed in collaboration with PLACE Design Group, is a central feature and influence the overall character and atmosphere of the Mall while closely complementing Marchant’s ‘Sunset Strip’. The integrated structure also aims to offer shade, shelter and lighting.

As well as the integrated artworks, new flooring and planting, economic development structures will also be implemented. In early 2015 the Placemaking Pods are scheduled for construction. These Pods will act as dining and retail outlets which have been designed to attract a new type of clientele to the mall, and are another part of the overall goal to activate the daytime economy.  Furthermore, the Pods will join the ranks of other upcoming projects which aim to stimulate economic growth, such as the TC Beirne Refurb (Boutique Hotel), Gastro Pub on the Mall, California and Bakery Lane projects and the Wickham Street triple tower.

Brunswick Street Mall will join a list of significant projects that are set to be completed prior to the G20 World Leaders Summit. Whilst many of these projects, such as the new development of Southbank Streets Beach, are already unique tourism destinations it is anticipated Brunswick Street Mall will be put on the ‘tourism map’ with the redevelopment and also become a long term economic driver for Brisbane.