BNE Open House – QPAC

As of this post goes to this site, I have not completed my NAB reportage. But still, is it wrong to start another one?

Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) is the last Brisbane Open House building that I visited. They had a tour around the building in the morning. Unfortunately, I wasn’t involved in the morning tour and instead join their organ experience in the evening at 4.30pm.

A brief background, QPAC is Brisbane’s answer to Singapore’s Esplanade. It is part of the Cultural Centre precinct in South Brisbane. This year, QPAC held the performances of Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Don Quixote and Jesus Christ Superstar to name a few.

However, the opposition in the sunshine state wants more QPAC in Brisbane. Saying that Melbourne with 4 millions people has five times more performing arts venue equivalent to QPAC-scale but Brisbane has only one. Since I’m a newcomer in this city, I wouldn’t further comment in this issue.

On that day, there were only two Klais Grand Organ Experience. At 4.35pm, the tour just started (it started late) and QPAC staff welcomed tour participants to the Lyric Hall. We sat down and a host gave us a brief introduction. Question session was available at the end of the ‘experience’. Playing the organ is Dr Robert Boughen.

PA021417

I am not an expert in music so my judgement might be basic, bias and you can label me an ‘idiot’ on this matter. This is the first time I’ve been to a concert hall in my lifetime. Don’t ask me about the QPAC facility but rather ask my dear friend in Singapore who commented that there are only five performing arts venue with facility as good as Esplanade, Theatres by the Bay (and I’ll bet if he reads this article he’ll comment that some of the term I used are wrong).

Dr Robert Boughen played Phantom of the Opera and Ave Maria during the experience and I must say I quite enjoy it. It’s free after all. He told us that the organ was made in Bonn, Germany. And the cost of bringing the organ from Bonn to Brisbane doesn’t cost Queensland’s taxpayers a single cent extra. It was delievered on time. He later jokingly added that “You read on the Courier Mail (Brisbane’s local daily newspaper), how many government projects with costs increased?”

PA021420
Lighting effect in action

During question time, one of the audience asked how many pipes are there in the organ. Dr Boughen pretended counting and in a matter of mere seconds say 6,566. Don’t ask me whether it’s huge or small, a music sanction was imposed upon me throughout my four years in Singapore.

Another person asked about wind pressure on the pipe. Dr Boughen simply replied, “Now, you’ve gone too technical”. A lady wondered whether the organ can be used to play jazz. Dr Boughen humbly played a jazz song for that lady. What a nice touch.

The experience ended after the question time and I do hope one day I will sit at QPAC watching a performance. And by the way there is a restaurant located at QPAC as well.

PA021415

Worried about transport? There is plenty parking space at the Cultural Centre precinct or you can take bus until Cultural Centre busway station or take a train to South Brisbane station.

PA021416

Have a great day every one!

Advertisements

BNE Open House – National Australia Bank

The second building that I visted in my afternoon session of the Brisbane Open House is the National Australia Bank. Actually, I had already pre-booked a tour for the Treasury Heritage Hotel but due to long walking distance from Riparian Plaza, I chose the closest Open House building that I had not visited yet.

After the Riparian Plaza tour, it was raining. And at Queen Street, there was a construction took place to widen the pedestrian walkway. Hence, I waited outside NAB where the queue was quite long. A volunteer came and counted the number of visitors coming. He gave me NAB Open House brochure. I think I waited for 10 minutes before a group of 12 people (including myself) were called to begin the tour.

PA021332
This is NAB from the outside with AAMI building located across the street. It is also the first time I edited a photo of mine into black and white.

PA021333

PA021334

PA021335

Most of the visitors dry their umbrella when they managed to be on the queue inside the building. There was a security guard reading a book and enjoying his cup of coffee while the rest of us were drenched.

PA021336
Look upon the ceiling and you’ll see this beautiful ornaments. There is also beautiful ornament on the ceiling of the closed Regent Theatre (which was based on Spanish architecture).

PA021338

Previously a Queensland National Bank building, the NAB was built in 1875. At that time, Australia’s big four banks buildings were located on each corner of Queen and Creek Streets. That’s according to a tour participant. However, the big four banks referred by the tour participant do not refer to Commonwealth, NAB, Westpac and ANZ but the big four banks at that time. While the guide led us through rooms by rooms reading the history of the building printed in a paper. I don’t expect them to memorise or know the history by hearts, after all they are just volunteers.

Back in the early years, when the bank closed, the bank manager would sleep inside the building. That’s for Australia, not sure about my home country.

PA021346
The inner roof taken from a window in the front corridor.

PA021347
The lift is not working.

PA021349
The front balcony on the first floor, facing Queen Street

PA021355
A furnace is located in every room. Strange though for Queensland’s sub-tropical climate. Perhaps that’s why all the furnace are now blocked and unused.

PA021357
The competitor on the opposite side of Creek Street; there was anger mounting on NAB back in 2002. And now there are angers mounting on the big four banks on ATM charges.

PA021358
What is quite unique is that almost all rooms have mini pantries with a staircase to level 1.5. What you can do at level 1.5 is to reach the ceiling. This photo tells about ne of the building’s pillar located near one of the “mini pantries” on level 1.

PA021360
Imagine this early 20th century and you’re a banker. Your bank is in big trouble and you need to discuss the matter with your boss. The picture above may not be a true depiction of what would happen then but at least it gives the slightest idea. Notice that a picture of the Queen of England is hung on the wall.

PA021361
Yet another furnace

That’s the latest update on NAB. It’s not done yet but I’ll be back tomorrow. Have a great evening.

BNE Open House – Riparian Plaza

On Saturday, 2 October 2010 an event to let Brisbanites to know more about their city’s buildings were held titled Brisbane Open House. It is the first year the city held such an event. The only Australian city that has already held similar event is none other than Australia’s capital of culture, Melbourne (well, from my point of view when it comes to self-promotion Melbourne and Brisbane are competing). Similar events were also held in New York, London and Dublin although I’m not quite sure whether it was on the same day as Brisbane Open House.

I begin this report with my afternoon session visit (morning session coming soon incl. Tattersalls Club, Brisbane Square, Santos Place and Brisbane Law Court). The first building that I visit after my lunch was Riparian Plaza, my favourite Brisbane building. To tour this building, you must book in advance due to limited space and the fact that Riparian Plaza consists of penthouses as well. Aussies really hate when their privacy is disturbed.

PA021313
Riparian Plaza from below, taken from the opposite of Eagle St Pier

PA021314
The lower part of Riparian Plaza

We (tour participants) waited outside the building until a guide came (one of the penthouse owner I believe). The guide told us that photography inside the building is strongly forbidden. But still, the view outside the building is magnificent.

PA021317
The tour began outside the building (again) but instead of Eagle St, it’s from the Brisbane River side. Riparian Plaza is a mix use building consists of carpark, offices, apartments and telecommunication tower. Without the telecommunication tower, it is Brisbane’s second tallest building after Aurora Tower. However, since the calculation of tallest building includes any special features, then it is Brisbane’s tallest. Otherwise, Gold Coast’s Q1 won’t be Australia’s tallest and the title will go to Melbourne.

A water fountain is located on the river side of the building, however, due to water restriction, water is not flowing. If you go to UQ St Lucia campus, the same story also happens to the fountain located outside Duhig building.

According to the information sheet given by the volunteers at the ground level, Riparian Plaza was built by Harry Seidler completed before his death in 2006. It was built between 2002 and 2005 and a similar building designed by the same man is just right next door, the Riverside Plaza.

After the introduction to the building, our guide led us to level 39. First destination is the recreation deck where you can organise your own party. If you think the room is too big or there is another group of people who wants to organise their own party, the room can be separated into two using movable wall (or whatever the correct term is).

And by the way, the lifts at Riparian Plaza is huge you can put your sofa inside. Though might not be as huge as the lifts that will be used at the currently under-construction development at Singapore’s Scotts Road, formerly the site known as Hotel Asia. No clue? Read last year or two years ago editions of the Straits Times.

After that we were introduced to the sauna room. To tell you the truth, I have never tried sauna before. I have seen sauna on the telly but despite my background coming from a tourism-based community, I know nothing about this. What wows me is the stone used as the wall to keep the sauna hot and running. Again, I’m sorry I don’t know what kind of stone is that but it’s black in colour.

Now to the most breathtaking part of this tour, the balcony. Here, you can see downtown Brisbane from 39-storey above the ground.

PA021319
I believe this is Charlotte St. It might be just another common thing in Singapore or Hong Kong but certainly is a unique experience in Brisbane. The water drips on the handrail tells the nature of the weather on that day.

PA021323
A view of the Brisbane River and you can see the Gabba from here and the rich people’s yachts moored.

Taking a picture of Story Bridge from Eagle Street Pier or near Customs House is ordinary. Not trying to be snooty but it’s not always you have the chance to capture the Story Bridge from level 39 unless you own a property at Riparian Plaza.
PA021327

Fortitude Valley, Bowen Hills and even Gateway Bridge can be seen from here. It’s totally wowsville, Gateway Bridge is not that far from the airport.

PA021328
A swimming pool is also located on level 39. A glass panel is used to separate the pool into the indoor and outdoor although the glass panel is only 6-inch deep into the water. A special kind of tiles is used to reduce ‘slipperiness’. A man on this tour took a photo of this swimming pool while the rest of the group was eaiting for the lift exclaiming, “I’m taking picture from the outside.”

PA021330
The opposite end of the Brisbane River shows us Kangaroo Point.

PA021331
The Story Bridge when the sky was much clearer

From level 39 we were then brought to the carpark at level 10 (or 11, I forget). The reason why there is no underground carpark is that the Brisbane River. Higher chances of erosion and that means…

A few nights or weeks before this tour, I watched A Current Affair until it was almost Two and A Half Men and they ran a story on unique properties. Riparian Plaza was featured. Usually I only watch the first one to three stories of Today Tonight or A Current Affair before switching it off. Anyway, if you ever think of buying an apartment at Riparian Plaza, it starts at the million.