The 5 Buildings That Epitomize Brisbane Architecture

Once thought of as a ‘big country town,’ Brisbane has become a destination for those wanting to take in its warm climate and beautiful architecture

Brisbane, Australia, is outgrowing its long-held reputation as a “big country town.” Today, Brisbane’s built environment represents a city with both a colorful history and an exciting future.   

Take a tour of Queensland’s capital city by visiting five structures that span more than a century of Brisbane’s architectural history.   

Take in these fascinating facts while you watch:   

The Story Bridge (1935 – 1940)  

  • About 95% of construction materials came from within Australia, and 89% of the cost was spent in Queensland. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, by contrast, was designed by British engineers with British steel.   

1 William (2013 – 2016)   

Customs House (1886 – 1889)  

  • James Atkinson won the construction tender for Customs House in 1849 for £407 (equivalent to $65,000 AUD or $48,000 USD today).  
  • Customs House was a functioning Australian Customs Service building until 1988. It remained empty until the University of Queensland leased it in 1991 and began a three-year restoration project to preserve the building.   

The Powerhouse (1926 – 1940; restored in 2000)  

  • When it was in peak operation, the New Farm Powerhouse supplied electricity for the largest tram network in the southern hemisphere.   
  • Some of The Powerhouse’s past lives include a homeless shelter, an army target practice site, a set for filmmakers and photographers and a meeting point for underground arts groups.  

Brisbane City Hall (1920 – 1930)  

  • When Brisbane City Hall opened, it was the second largest construction in Australia after the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   
  • Known as “the People’s Place,” Brisbane City Hall still holds regular Council and Standing Committee meetings that are open for the public to attend.   
  • Like the Powerhouse, this site had many lives prior to Brisbane City Hall’s construction in 1920, including as a roller-skating rink, circuses and Brisbane’s first roller coaster

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