Ageing Brisbane mall temporarily reborn as cultural hub

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<i>Jem</i> by ENESS, part of the Flowstate precinct designed by Stukel Stone and Lat27.

Jem by ENESS, part of the Flowstate precinct designed by Stukel Stone and Lat27. Image: Tony Gwynn Jones

A temporary redevelopment of the defunct Arbour View Cafes precinct in Brisbane’s South Bank has seen a number of colourful additions made to the aging site in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 

Titled Flowstate, the new, 3,000-square-metre space consists of an “immersive digital installation,” a grassy “relaxation zone” and a performance pavilion.

South Bank Corporation chairperson and landscape architect Catherin Bull said, “As a place where ideas about what the city can and will be are explored, Flowstate aims to encourage a vibrant culture of exploration and exchange across the South Bank precinct.”

The project has been designed by Stukel Stone, an interdisciplinary practice that deals in both architecture and performance design, in collaboration with landscape architects Lat27.

Bull said, “the spaces the team have created are surprisingly fresh, convivial

and intimate, transforming the preexisting structure as an exemplar of contemporary sub-tropical design.”

In November 2017, Stukel Stone directors Tobhiyah Stone Feller and Daniel Stukel Beasly said, “Flowstate blurs the distinctions between landscape and architecture, theatre and public space.” 

“We have provided multiple possibilities in the design for how the site can be used and [we] are very interested to see how performers, artists and audiences will respond and activate the site in unique and unexpected ways.”

The design, which comprises three distinct spaces including a grassy relaxation space and performance pavilion, is based on the idea of a “chrysalis” – a reference “to the transitionary nature of the site.” This concept is explored through features like the facetted khaki mesh fused to the pavilion entrance.

“This transparent exoskeleton is a grand and subtle contemplation; a demonstrable expression of the passage of time, of gestation, transition and growth,” Feller and Beasly said. 

Flowstate will be in place for 18 months, and will be accompanied by a program of free events.

At the centre of the pop-up is Jem, a “hybrid instrument sculpture,” by new media design studio ENESS. The sculpture is “played” by visitors as the ribs of the structure react audibly and visually to people passing through.

Nimrod Weis, creative director of ENESS, said the work was the studio’s “most technologically complex, biggest works in the public realm to date.”

 “We’re […] excited to observe the way people from all walks of life naturally react to the work and each other,” he said.

Catherin Bull said, “Around the world, leading public precincts are constantly evolving and it is the Corporation’s role to oversee, adapt and transform South Bank so it remains relevant, desirable and exciting both publicly and commercially.”

The installation will mark the first redevelopment of the South Bank parklands since the 2011 River Quay project by Arkhefield and Cardno S.P.L.A.T.

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