Toowoomba is a proud and elegant tableland city serving the Darling Downs, an
abundant farming region in Queensland, Australia. The city has a fine tradition of masonry and stone buildings, particularly along its main streets of Margaret Street and Ruthven
The Grand Central redevelopment expands the old retail centre, bridging a lightly used rail corridor and the western armature of the city creek system, Gowrie Creek. The new wing and bridge frame a broad, multipurpose civic space.
Grand Central is embedded in the urban fabric of the city, integrating the retail offering with the main streets and pedestrian networks that characterise the centre of Toowoomba.
The new building ensemble and tectonic is developed from careful analysis of the materials, scales and proportions of the city’s valued buildings including the 1912 White Horse building on Ruthven Street and the 1905 Exchange buildings on Margaret Street.
Fronting Margaret Street, the predominant two storey scale of the existing streetscape is respected and a rhythmic facade of precast frames and folded brickwork incorporates street facing retail, protective awnings and generous colonnade. Contemporary facades and forms that give depth, light and shadow, acknowledging the textural qualities of the established city buildings.
The interface of the Grand Central retail experience with the new civic space is open and inviting. The new plaza is folded up over the creek to connect to the upper level retail and create space for informal seating and events. Here the Euclidean geometries give way to the organic, creating an engaging and memorable civic moment for the city of Toowoomba.
A multi-level restaurant precinct is connected by stairs and terraces that provide visual connection and movement opportunities between the plaza and upper level retail arcades.
The terraces are positioned below a broad roof canopy that filters the abundant sunlight afforded by the northern orientation. The canopy references the city emblem, the Toowoomba violet, in petal like forms that are woven organically into a central timber and steel supporting column. From here there is a new vantage point for understanding and enjoying the setting of Toowoomba.
Timber and glazing complement the masonry and off-form concrete finishes. Curved GRC balustrades, ‘brick snap’ panels and weathered steel profiles expand the palette of high quality, natural and warm materials, delivering low maintenance, maximising off-site fabrication and enhancing sustainability.
The new carpark fronting Victoria, Little and Duggan streets is wrapped in folded weathered steel allowing natural ventilation of the carpark levels and recalling the robust vernacular buildings of South East Queensland.
The activated frontages of Margaret Street and Victoria Street, the unique Duggan Lane, and the restaurant precinct in Central Square, expand the daytime and evening dining options available to the community.
The internal retail environments are akin to arcades and gallerias, infused with natural light and connected to the surrounding city.
Grand Central embraces the future of the shopping centre typology, opening up to the street, and creating community focused public spaces.
Collaboration between Buchan and fjmt.
Buchan are a multidisciplinary practice of architects, masterplanners, interior and brand experience designers, with 10 studios covering Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific and the UK. Our team of 375 professionals draw on both local knowledge and our international experience, travelling between locations and sharing their expertise. This allows us to service projects with the best skills we have to offer, wherever they may be.
fjmt is a multi-award-winning Australian architectural practice dedicated to design excellence and the enhancement of the public domain.
fjmt has won numerous architectural and design awards including the WAF ‘World Building of the Year’, and the Lloyd Rees Award for Urban Design, the NZIA Architecture Medal, and the RIBA International Award.