University Development Proposed for Brisbane’s Most Derelict Retail Row

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Architectural rendering of Torrens University's new Brisbane campus in the Fortitude Valley
Architectural rendering of Torrens University's new Brisbane campus in the Fortitude Valley

An updated development application has been submitted by Mount Cathay Pty Ltd for a new mixed-use 30-story building which would house Torrens University’s new Brisbane campus at 250 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley.

The Walton’s Emporium site was subject to an approved development application by Millinium Capital back in 2019.

The historic building was built in the early 1900’s when the Fortitude Valley was Brisbane’s top shopping destination, however since the 1980’s, all four buildings closed and the complex fell into substantial disrepair.

According to the architects, Arkhefield, the site has significant, untapped potential to become a vibrant hub of activity and connection in the heart of the Valley once again.

Architectural rendering of Torrens University's new Brisbane campus in the Fortitude Valley
Architectural rendering of Torrens University’s new Brisbane campus in the Fortitude Valley
Architectural rendering of Torrens University's new Brisbane campus in the Fortitude Valley
Architectural rendering of Torrens University’s new Brisbane campus in the Fortitude Valley

“The vision and purpose of this project is to breathe new life into the precinct: to bring light,
safety, upgrades and new uses to the site, so that the public may experience these buildings once more.”

“The value of this project will be taking a collection of buildings that have been closed off from the public for 30 years and breathing new life into them, for the public to experience once more.”

– Arkhefield

The proposed use is predominantly for university and student accomodation as well as associated shops, coworking offices, collaboration spaces and cafes.

Project rundown

  • Revitalisation of the entire Overells and Lincoln Mills buildings with a key University tenant.
  • A new public open air plaza on the former Braggs site, providing a connection through the site to the McWhirters/QR walkway;
  • Activation of Overells Lane with exciting new hospitality retail and provision of a link at the end of laneway, connecting to Brunswick Street level and the Valley train station;
  • A new 30 storey student accommodation tower on the site of the former Waltons building with coworking office space in the podium levels and retail on ground level.
  • Rooftop: An outdoor communal space is proposed for the rooftop
  • Height: 30 Storeys / 103.710m
  • Units: 23 Levels of Rooming (Student) Accommodation (344 beds in 183 Units / Apartments)
  • Total Site Area: 3,489 m2
  • Stage 1A GFA: 7,916m2
  • Stage 2B GFA: 10,451m2
  • Total GFA: 18,367m2
  • Existing (Heritage) Buildings: 12,550 m2
  • Total Existing Gross Floor Area (GFA) 12,560 m2
  • Car Parking: 25 total
  • The project will be delivered in two stages.
  • Torrens University website – https://www.torrens.edu.au/
Proposed Torrens University entry along Wickham Street
Proposed Torrens University entry along Wickham Street

Stage 1a comprises of refurbishment works of the heritage listed Overells and Lincoln Mills buildings, including internal fit out works for Torrens University.

The application states that the University’s front entrance will revitalize the significant Wickham Street facade, and active University uses will bring new life to the existing Brunswick Street shop front.

Proposed Torrens University entry along Wickham Street
Proposed Torrens University entry along Wickham Street

Stage 1a will also establish Overells Lane as an active laneway with the provision of a new entrance and a University training restaurant on Lower Ground Level. Stage 1a includes demolition of the Waltons and Braggs buildings, while their Brunswick Street facades are proposed to be retained. This will provide construction access onto the site to enable the Stage 1a building works.

Stage 1b includes a new 30 storey tower proposed over the Waltons site, to house a mix of Co-working space, Student Accommodation and Diverse Rooming Accommodation.

Proposed Torrens University facade along Wickham Street
Proposed Torrens University facade along Wickham Street
Proposed Torrens University facade along Wickham Street
Proposed Torrens University facade along Wickham Street

According to the application, these uses will benefit from the proximity of transport and high levels of amenity available to this site and take advantage of the influx of university students resulting from Stage 1a.

Parts of Braggs Building will be reinstated with a new use including a new public plaza and link from Brunswick Street through to the train station and activated retail.

The University

Proposed Torrens University entry along Brunswick Street
Proposed Torrens University entry along Brunswick Street
Proposed Torrens University entry along Brunswick Street
Proposed Torrens University entry along Brunswick Street

The development aims to provide the opportunity to showcase the work of the students across all faculties from health sciences to design.

This includes the opportunity for Brunswick Street and Wickham street shop front displays such as artwork, virtual teaching spaces and pop-out cafes which activate the entry area.

Braggs Passage

Architectural rendering of proposed Braggs Place
Architectural rendering of proposed Braggs Place
Architectural rendering of proposed Braggs Passage
Architectural rendering of proposed Braggs Passage

A new subtropical cross block link is proposed which is said would create a unique sequence of interconnected public spaces, activated by retail and other uses.

A public plaza is proposed including subtropical landscaping, balconies and active uses overlooking on both sides and retail shopfronts on Ground level.

A partial reconstruction of the previous roof form will provide partial cover to the large civic space. The public plaza will connect through to the Lincoln Mills building and up to the Fortitude Valley train station.

Architectural rendering of proposed Fortitude Valley station link entry
Architectural rendering of proposed Fortitude Valley station link entry

Overells Lane

Architectural rendering of proposed Overalls Lane Activation
Architectural rendering of proposed Overalls Lane Activation

The application proposes to open up the end of Overells Lane at the boundary wall of Lincoln Mills. The application states that this would create far greater permeability and connection with both Lincoln Mills and Overells Building. New stairs would connect Overells Lane to the existing train station walkway.

However an existing 2 storey building over the lane does not form part of this application. Planners envisage it could be partially demolished, to allow substantially more daylight into the plan in the future.

Architectural rendering of proposed Overalls Lane Activation
Architectural rendering of proposed Overalls Lane Activation

The podium of the new student accommodation tower would be visible at the end of the laneway, providing overlooking and passive surveillance.

Increased daylight, passive surveillance, the boosted population and foot traffic due to the university and train station link would all work to greatly improve the safety of Overells Lane from its current state.

According to the development application, the preferred future vision for Overells Lane would be for it to:

  • Become a pedestrian laneway
  • Instate bollards at the Wickham St end to ensure it is an appropriate fire egress point and safe for pedestrians
  • Name it with designed signage details to create a sense of place
  • Apply a treatment to the ground surface such as paving or stencilling
  • Breathe life into it with more loose pot plants and public artwork.

Architectural Report

App 4 DA Architectural ReportPart-2

Plans

Torrens Plans

 

Tell us what you think about this development below in the comment box. The development application for this project, available to view on Brisbane City Council’s Developmenti online platform is A005787848.

Architectural design

100 %

Building amenities

100 %

Building greenery (Buildings that breathe)

100 %

Public realm / Street activation

100 %

Sustainability

100 %

By 06 reviewer(s)

  • Avatar

    Bondy

    Christian- have you been paid your fee on this yet?

    July 21, 2021

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  • Avatar

    Tim

    Looks excellent!

    July 21, 2021

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  • Avatar

    Adam

    Great to see this end of the Valley finally being cleaned up!

    July 21, 2021

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  • Avatar

    Barbara Mathieson

    Excellent town planning! Good for students, university facilities, transport, cafes etc.

    July 21, 2021

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  • Avatar

    Nick Wills

    This is fantastic and will tidy up and bring life to this end of the Valley whilst botting an everlasting eye sore. Bloody amazing!

    July 21, 2021

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  • Avatar

    Jane

    This looks amazing, just what the Valley needs

    July 20, 2021

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Architectural design
Building amenities
Building greenery (Buildings that breathe)
Public realm / Street activation
Sustainability