Australian architects mourn the loss of a Queensland icon

Queensland has lost one of its most renowned and cherished architects, Gabriel Poole. Poole’s work was highly awarded — most notably, he received both the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture (the highest national accolade for new residential design) and the 1998 Royal Australian Institute of Architecture Gold Medal for his lifetime contribution to Australian architecture.

Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, the Hon Jackie Trad MP has praised Poole’s contribution to Queensland architecture. “We have lost a true design visionary,” she said.

“Poole’s extensive contribution to our built environment includes delivering Queensland home-owners affordable and environmentally responsible architecture. Driving that agenda and guiding colleagues and emerging architects to be equally impassioned, shapes much of Poole’s invaluable legacy.”

Photographer: Harry Frith

Born in Ipswich, Poole studied architecture at the Queensland Technical College (QIT) and the University of Queensland. He is best known for his work undertaken in private practice, predominantly on the Sunshine Coast. In addition to designing commercial projects and apartment buildings, Poole specialised in residential design. Here, Poole displayed great confidence in the exploration of modernism combined with an understanding of Queensland housing traditions.

In the mid-seventies, Poole teamed up with architect John Mainwaring to establish Atelier-Two-Designs. The work of their practice is acknowledged as having helped to establish Noosa as a ‘resort’ destination.

In the early eighties, Poole returned to private practice and went on to design game-changing ‘flat-pack prefabrication systems’ for units and residential homes. Affordability and sustainability remained the key motivators that drove his enduring ingenuity.  

Dr Michael Lavery, President of the Queensland Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, said Poole’s passing has deeply saddened all at the organisation. “Gabriel’s work is defined for me by a unique combination of craft, minimal means and significant innovation, built around an intimate understanding of climate and place. 

“In these past few years Gabriel coupled his determination, knowledge and talent with his generosity of spirit and humility, by collaborating on significant work with the next generation of practitioners,” Dr Lavery said. 

In 2018, Poole with Tim Bennetton won the Queensland Robin Dods Award for residential architecture.

Poole died of natural causes, aged 85. He is survived by his wife, collaborator and artist Elizabeth Poole, and his four children and two grandchildren.