Thomas Dixon Centre | Conrad Gargett

Thomas Dixon Centre | Conrad Gargett | Photographer: Christopher Frederick Jones

2023 National Architecture Awards Program

Thomas Dixon Centre | Conrad Gargett

Traditional Land Owners
Yuggera and Turrbal people
Year
2023
Chapter

Queensland

Region

Brisbane

Category
COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture
EmAGN Project Award
Heritage
Public Architecture
Sustainable Architecture
Builder
Early Works – Hutchinsons
Main Contract – Hansen Yuncken
Photographer
Chris Wardle
Christopher Fredrick Jones
Project summary

State heritage listed and State-owned Thomas Dixon Centre is revitalised as a centre of wellness, art, and performance for the State of Queensland, Queensland Ballet and wider Arts community. Conrad Gargett has worked closely with the company to enrich the historic Thomas Dixon Centre, enabling Queensland Ballet to expand and shine on the global stage.

The Queensland Ballet’s visionary development strategy and our architectural response is strongly underpinned by the company’s pillars of art, people, home and wellness. The Thomas Dixon Centre accommodates a larger ensemble of dancers, expands training programs and enhances community initiatives to deliver world-class productions.

The redevelopment enriches people’s lives through ballet, deepening connections with the company’s current audience and inspiring future generations of dancers, artists, technicians, dance/ sports medicine specialists and more, with a new level of accessibility to all aspects of the performances.

National Architecture Awards Accolades
National Commendation for Heritage
Shortlist – COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture
Shortlist – Public Architecture
2023
Queensland Architecture Awards Accolades
Award for Heritage
Award for Public Architecture
COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture
The Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture (Qld)
Queensland Jury Citation

The Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture

The Thomas Dixon Centre is the vibrant new home of the Queensland Ballet Company in West End, Brisbane. A contemporary addition complements the complex restoration and adaptive reuse of a heritage listed former boot factory. Both building and operations optimise the health, wellbeing, and performance of the Queensland Ballet’s dancers, staff, and company, with restorative spaces and support programming. Catering for physical fitness, nutrition, mental health, injury prevention, treatment, and recovery, the comprehensive suite of facilities includes a gym, medical consultation rooms, and a rehabilitation studio.

The pursuit of WELL platinum certification was a natural fit for the project’s social and environmental sustainability ambitions. Hazardous materials were painstakingly removed from the heritage fabric, and a new renewable energy system includes 40 kW solar power, 71 kW solar water heating, and 50,000 L of rainwater storage. Enhanced mechanical ventilation, with air pollutant filtration and monitoring, filtered natural light, and circadian lighting design support wellness, comfort, and productivity.

Roof terrace gardens provide access to nature, and a street level garden terrace contributes to the neighbouring community. Further, the project’s universal design philosophy transcends mere physical access to offer dignity, safety, and comfort to those representing a much broader definition of diversity, with gender neutral bathrooms and noise reduction strategies such as a sound-isolated seating area in the theatre.

The Thomas Dixon Centre ventures beyond the core business and art of the Queensland Ballet Company to build connections with the wider community. By focusing on the holistic wellbeing of people and community, this exemplar transcends conventional measures for sustainable building performance.

COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture

The modernisation and amplification of the Thomas Dixon Centre has been conceived as a series of interconnected spaces, each with a unique interior experience.

The building program is organised around a central ‘street’, flipping the expected sequencing of spaces: backstage activities are foregrounded, and the theatre occupies the rear of the building.

The curtain has been pulled back and the visitor is invited to witness the intricacies of a ballet production. The costume workshop provides a stimulating backdrop to the ground floor lobby area and visitors are given glimpses into the studio rehearsal spaces throughout the building.

The theatre has been sensitively designed to foreground both the performances and Judy Watson’s exquisite artwork, which occupies the floor planes and takes on new characteristics when seen from the multiple vantage points located vertically throughout the volume of this space.

The original heritage building has been carefully restored, modernised, and made accessible, and is lightly joined to the new volume. References to the building’s various previous incarnations are made throughout the interior, which has been finely detailed.

The ground floor offers itself to the local community, with both ends of the heritage volume housing hospitality offerings and a publicly available changing places facility—all gestures that foster a sense of collective ownership that is rarely seen in cultural institutions of this scale.

Award for Public Architecture

In collaboration with Conrad Gargett, this heritage listed and state-owned facility has achieved an extraordinary transformation, solidifying its position as a beacon of cultural excellence for the State of Queensland, the Queensland Ballet, and the wider arts community.

The Thomas Dixon Centre serves as an artistic home, fostering the growth and success of the Queensland Ballet. Its design supports the company’s pillars of art, people, home, and wellness, creating an environment that nurtures the talents of a larger ensemble of dancers, expands training programs, and enhances community initiatives.

This redevelopment truly exemplifies a commitment to delivering world-class productions and advancing the art of ballet.

Award for Heritage Architecture

As a revered heritage site, the Thomas Dixon Centre holds significant cultural and historic value for the region. Through a program of meticulous restoration and adaptive reuse, the Centre has been sensitively transformed into a dynamic space that seamlessly combines the preservation of its architectural heritage with the demands of modern functionality.

Beyond its role as a heritage site, the Thomas Dixon Centre now serves as a catalyst for wellness, art, and performance in the State of Queensland. Its thoughtful, adaptive reuse has transformed it into a vibrant hub where the Queensland Ballet and Brisbane’s artistic community can thrive.

Project Practice Team

Craig Sargeant, Senior Designer
David Gole, Project Principal
Phoebe Thomas, Interior Design
Simon Boundy, Senior Architect
Tamarind Taylor, Project Architect

Project Consultant and Construction Team

ADP, WELL Certification
Architecture and Access, Access Consultant
Bligh Tanner, Structural and Civil Engineers
Conrad Gargett, Landscape Consultant
DCWC, Quantity Surveyor
DotDash, Signage and Wayfinding
Knisco, Certifier
MRCagney, Traffic Engineer
Richard Stuart, Theatre Consultant
Saunders Havill, Town Planner
Trinity Consultants, Acoustic Consultant
Warrington Fire, Fire Engineer
XBuro, Building Services Engineers

Connect with Conrad Gargett
Thomas Dixon Centre | Conrad Gargett | Photographer: Christopher Frederick Jones

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