Weeks to build
Largely abandoned since the 1960s, the historic 3.43 hectare Howard Smith Wharves site on the Brisbane River has been transformed to a world class riverside precinct. It includes more than 2.7 hectares of public open space, the 166 room Fantauzzo Art Series Hotel, an exhibition and events centre, craft brewery, and an array of restaurants and cafes.
The historic development was undertaken in two separate portions — the precinct and the hotel. The design and construction of the entertainment precinct and community space included significant civil works and landscaping. The scope encompassed the full restoration and transformation of the existing heritage buildings and wharf, plus the construction of a new 1500m2 convention centre (Howards Hall), with two commercial kitchens and a viewing deck. Hutchies worked closely with HSW Nominees team to keep the Wharves’ historical essence, taking extra steps to create an authentic and energetic space that revitalises Petrie Bight and respects the value of the site. To cater for the vast number of expected visitors, Hutchies installed two operating substations, various toilet blocks and water enclosures.
Anyone who knows Hutchies knows we’re all about community. So we were super proud to deliver this high-quality community space that celebrates its history and waterfront location. The development provides 30,000m2 of parkland that connects local residents, nearby workers, and visitors to the city via the New Farm Riverwalk and Bowen Terrace. The new events and exhibition space can cater for functions of up to 1,000 people.
Throughout construction, we coordinated with the local community to make sure they were well-informed about construction progress and any activities that might impact. We published monthly updates on our website, distributed flyers to letterboxes and local businesses, and utilised community noticeboards around the area to make sure information was readily accessible to all.
As rare artefacts of the pre-1940 Port of Brisbane, the heritage listed buildings at Howard Smith Wharves make it one of Brisbane’s most culturally and historically significant riverfront locations. The site is home to five air-raid shelters built during World War II.
Construction of the wharves began in the 1930s in conjunction with the Story Bridge. They were a project initiated by the Queensland Government to provide locals with relief work during the depression. The site was originally built as the Brisbane Central Wharves and was then leased by shipping company, Howard Smith Co Ltd.
The port moved downstream in the 1960’s, leaving the spaces largely abandoned. Prior to the redevelopment, the buildings were used for office space, storage and wharfage for Brisbane’s Water Police fleet.
Nestled under the Story Bridge at the base of a spectacular cliff face, the brand new Art Series Hotel by Deague Group was designed to blend into its rocky backdrop with a uniquely jagged façade of varying textures. The distinctive face of the building also provides a simple backdrop to the restored heritage buildings to allow them to stand out as the feature of the development. Inspired by acclaimed Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo, the new six-story hotel is an immersion into creativity and contemporary luxury, boasting decadent suites, a rooftop pool, function rooms and a gymnasium.
The original concept for the riverfront boardwalk was to seat it upon a series of piles placed into the Brisbane River. Hutchies modified the design to incorporate a cantilevered steel beam structure for the boardwalk to sit on, rather than having it piled into the river bedrock. To assist with the cantilever — which spans out 5m — hollow core precast planks were used for a working deck which assisted with load bearing, with the final concrete finishes placed above. The new design maximised project and build, minimising time and benefiting our client through great cost savings.
With a tight construction schedule, we seized upon any approach that could expedite construction. We used Ortech panelling as finished ceilings on the main convention centre (Howard's Hall / Building 2), which allowed the roof to be used a walking platform, and enabled work to begin immediately below whilst the roof was still being installed, saving significant time and costs. The material also functioned well because of its strength, sustainability, reverberation control, and ability to reduce noise.
Hutchies used an acoustic ceiling to achieve the highest possible Rw rating and minimise reverberation of music from Mr Percival’s to alleviate any noise pollution. Our proposed value management included an alternative timber species, which reduced costs without compromising acoustic requirements. We gave the bar a minimalist look by seamlessly integrating the air-conditioning into the wall panelling system.
Hutchies has deep connections with Brisbane. We’ve grown up here and our unique history with the city means we are passionate about being involved it its evolution. We were absolutely thrilled to perform the construction of the long-awaited Howard Smith Wharves revitalisation project. With its riverside location and rich history, the site has so much to offer the people of Brisbane, and HSW Nominees have capitalised on this potential with the design of what has already become the city’s most popular new leisure destination for locals and visitors alike.
Scott Hutchinson, Chairman
It was important that construction did not interfere with access to the shared pathway between the New Farm Riverwalk and the city. This was a particularly complex proposition, in light of the highly constrained site access, with only one entry and exit point for construction vehicles and deliveries. Through smart design and meticulous planning, we were able to maintain access throughout the 24 month construction period, ensuring around 3,000 daily users could continue their regular access to and from the CBD. The cantilevered walkway platform was installed seven months into construction, providing thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists. It also opened up access for us to continue construction along the eastern end of the site.
One of the heritage listed buildings stood below the flood line, requiring it to be lifted 1.5 meters above its existing foundation. Due to the delicacy of the old structure, we anticipated that the lifting would be an extremely challenging and protracted process. Once the task was broken down into its elements, we discovered that a traditional method of house lifting — on a much larger scale — could be used. The building was braced in two weeks, then lifted and supported a week later to its new height, where it now sits on new steel support legs.
Sometimes the complexities of a project extend beyond the intricacies of design and construction. Hutchies worked closely with the Brisbane City Council — the owner of the wharves precinct — together with operators on site, and the general public to ensure all stakeholders were engaged, informed and aligned with what was happening with the project.
Building the lifts and lift towers that line the New Farm cliffs and connect the wharves to Bowen Terrace came with its own set of challenges. To assemble the lifts on site would have needed a vast amount of space, requiring site access to be shut down. To overcome this issue, Hutchies consulted with steel fabricator CASA and conceived the concept to manufacture the cliff lift towers in two halves. These were clad offsite with corten weathering steel, and craned into place as free-standing structures. This innovative approach removed the need for fully scaffolding the towers on site and eliminated major site interruption.
Mr Percival’s unique overwater bar hovers just above the ebbs and flows of the Brisbane River. It is positioned along a bend in the river where the current surges and the bedrock beneath is positioned at a difficult angle. To ensure the integrity of the structure, we installed two land-based piles between the Story Bridge gabions. We also fitted a catch net underneath to provide safe installation of underdeck services and safe access for all trades. Before commencing construction of the pylons, we undertook comprehensive testing to ensure the stability of the rock would not be compromised with the inclusion of the piles between the pylons. We were able to adapt the schedule to accommodate the months-long wait for approvals for this testing work. Once the piles were in place, the bar itself was brought in on a barge, rather than trying to manoeuvre across land on the constrained site.
Art Series Hotel
The overwater deck with octagonal façade and roofing, commercial kitchen, octagonal bar, toilet facilities, awnings and feature timber cladding
Located in Building E included two bars and two kitchen fitouts, HSW offices, toilet facilities and furnishings to the 500 person conference centre
Located at the end of Building E in the 'glasshouse' – included a commercial kitchen and amenities
Two commercial kitchens which incorporated wood-fired pizza ovens, bar, merchandise counters, seating, brewery area (brewery install by HSW), offices, beer garden, awnings seating areas
We're excited to announce @felonsbrewingco is now open! Beer's back on the Brisbane River
Today’s the day we welcome our first event guests to Howard’s Hall!
A big day for HSW yesterday with Lord Mayor Quirk and Cr Vicki Howard on-site to officially open stage 1 of the Howard Smith Wharves precinct: our lift from Bowen Terrace, East Lawns and two event spaces - Rivershed and Howard’s Hall. Watch this space for announcements on more exciting openings over the next few weeks
We’re gearing up for a massive week at HSW as we welcome our first event guests to the Rivershed and Howard’s Hall. Exciting times ahead – only 2 days to go!
Hello @mrpercivals. You’re looking beautiful - Only a few weeks until we’ll be enjoying a drink right on the Brisbane River
Soon to be the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic on the lawn ☀️
HELLO SPRING! The boutique hotel looking beautiful behind the jacarandas in full bloom
What a view! We love seeing the transformation of the site from above
We’re getting close to finishing the construction of the Overwater Bar under the Story Bridge! Are you ready Brisbane?
The almost-completed Story Bridge seen from Petrie Bight in ca. 1939. Can you see the ship docked at Howard Smith Wharves in the background? This was taken back when HSW was a working wharf! ⚓️ Photo: SLQ
Reaching for the sky ↕️ Our lifts will provide access from Bowen Terrace directly to the precinct – how good is that!?
Introducing Joey Cassin, @hutchies1912 Site Manager at HSW. Joey enjoys organising the trades and looking after all the workers on site (with pizza of course!). He said, “It’s great that everyone’s interested in what’s going on. You’ve got a bike path running through the job with people peering through the fence – everyone’s excited about it.”
A great view of HSW! Public spaces will occupy 2.7 hectares of the site including grassed play areas, gardens, a walking track and dedicated cycle path
Pedestrian and cycle path with a view! We’ve worked hard to maintain the cycle path through the site during the whole of construction. Apologies for any inconvenience.
Thanks for visiting today to view progress @cityhall_bne @cr.amanda.cooper @crvickihoward - our boutique hotel carpark is nearly complete ✔️with restaurants, bars, brewery and event spaces due to open in late 2018.
What a view! Soon to be home to one of Brisbane's most exciting event spaces on this very site. #howardsmithwharves #brisbaneevents #brisbaneanyday
We’re delighted to be working with Hutchinson Builders. A locally based family business 105 years in the making means restoration of #howardsmithwharves heritage buildings are in experienced and respectful hands. #hutchies1912 #brisbaneanyday
What a night hosting the Professional Conference Organisation Association Networking Event earlier this week! Big thanks to our event partners @visitbrisbane @artserieshotelgroup @scenechangeav @moretonhire #howardsmithwharves #brisbaneanyday #thisisqueensland #pcoa
Thanks to @whereswiwi for capturing this great perspective of Howard Smith Wharves. The city is buzzing with energy thanks to #brisbanefestival #howardsmithwharves
The early stages of the Story Bridge construction circa 1938. #howardsmithwharves #brisbaneheritage
Howard Smith Wharves, originally built as the Brisbane Central Wharves, were leased by the shipping company Howard Smith Co. Ltd from the mid-1930s until the early 1960s… Here it is in full operation circa 1940. #howardsmithwharves