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Brisbane's Best New Spaces of 2018

Six of the most stunning and thought provoking new buildings, artworks and venues to arrive in Brisbane this year.
By Concrete Playground
November 22, 2018
By Concrete Playground
November 22, 2018


Six of the most stunning and thought provoking new buildings, artworks and venues to arrive in Brisbane this year.

Our city is constantly changing and evolving, with sky-high stands being erectednew high-frequency trains being built and even plans for billion-dollar precincts being thrown around. And amongst all these big infrastructure changes, small, carefully designed spaces popping up. In Bowen Hills alone, a European-style market — complete with a personal shopper service — and a permanent food truck park have arrived; while the Valley has scored a new resort-style hotel with an all-day bar and an acclaimed restaurant. These are the spaces that are really catching our attention, the ones that are quietly evolving the community — through innovation and sustainability — and are accessible to you.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Brisbane to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new spaces were nominated for Best New Space in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards.

  • 6
    Welcome to Bowen Hills - CLOSED

    Food trucks have reshaped the casual dining industry to the point where you can get gourmet treats at markets, beaches, events and basically anywhere people gather en masse. The only problem is that you usually have to seek them out or otherwise find yourself in the same location by some happy accident — such is the blessing/curse of food on wheels. Until now. Enter Welcome to Bowen Hills, a permanent indoor-outdoor food and drinks venue where the nosh is supplied by a rotating cavalcade of the finest food trucks in Australia. Boasting a rotating roster of food trucks, a gin bar dubbed Swill and full capacity for events and functions, Welcome to Bowen Hills is definitely one to keep on your radar. The main bar is aptly called the Dairy Hall, and features a long bar so there will never be much of a queue for your favourite drinks. The beer offering at Welcome to Bowen Hills is nothing short of incredible, with 68 taps and 17 products available. You’ll find Carlton Draught Brewery Fresh unpasteurised beer, and Brisbane classics like XXXX jostling for space with Balter beers and Newstead Brewing Co. options, to name just a couple. 

    Words: Laura Dawson. Images: Savannah van der Niet.

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  • 5
    W Brisbane

    For as long as most Brisbanites can remember, the CBD’s riverside stretch has been synonymous with bland buildings and an always-busy expressway — but that’s changing. Popping up amid the hustle, bustle and boring concrete is the city’s newest luxury hotel, W Brisbane is bringing a touch of ultra glam to the northern bank of the river. The five-star spot boasts a view across the water to the Queensland Museum, the State Library of Queensland and the Gallery of Modern Art. And that’s just the first of many features that might entice locals to book a staycation. Others include 312 designer rooms decked out with ten-gallon drum baths and in-suite cocktail stations, an onsite spa, and a fourth-level deck that includes an eye-catching pool, an adjacent bar and a barbecue area. While the overall look of the place takes inspiration from its location, with design agency Nic Graham & Associates working to the theme of “a river dreaming”, W Brisbane’s other main highlight actually springs from down south. As revealed a couple of months back, the hotel is home to Queensland’s first Three Blue Ducks restaurant.

    Words: Sarah Ward.

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  • 4
    West Village

    West End’s massive West Village precinct continues to get bigger and bigger. While the project is still in development, it has held everything from ice cream festivals to weekend providore markets since it was approved in 2016. And, as of Saturday, October 2018, the $800 million project had some hefty new additions. The former Peters Ice Cream Factory site is now home to The Garden Pantry and The Common. The former is a casual dining precinct featuring multiple eateries, plus indoor and outdoor seating, while the latter is a 24-hour public space brimming with grass, trees, plants, a water installation and a field of lights. In short, the inner-city development has gained a heap of new dining options and a lush place to hang out. Unsurprisingly, in terms of decor, the new spaces play up the garden theme — both in The Garden Pantry space, which is decked out tropical-style, and in The Commons’ greenery-filled garden area. Later this year, West Village will open Factory Lane, and add a new arts and events studio called The Bromley Room #2.

    Words: Sarah Ward.

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  • 3
    The Calile - the best hotel in Brisbane.

    Two years in the making — as anyone that spotted the constant construction site on James Street will know — the seven-storey, this 175-room spot is calling itself ‘Australia’s first urban resort’. Yes, that means that going for a splash in the central pool, lazing around in cabanas or on a sun lounge, and eating on the hotel’s outdoor deck are all on the agenda. So is hanging out at the spa, which is also open to the general public, and just making the most of Brissie’s climate. The white brick design, by architects Richards and Spence, certainly highlights the tropical side of things. Think open-air spaces and breezeways, natural ventilation and plants aplenty, as well as a cool, soothing colour scheme. Inside the rooms, guests will find oak furniture, cork floors and sisal matting in the bathrooms, day beds for afternoon naps, linen robes and a mini bar stocked from local suppliers. Recognising how sunny the city gets, every room is also fitted with motorised blackout blinds. If you need to escape the glow, the in-suite Chromecast and sound bar will help as well.

    Words: Sarah Ward

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  • 2
    Night Life at GOMA

    It has been 11 art-filled years since Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art first opened its doors, and the creative riverside hub just keeps going from strength to strength. As unveiled on Friday, July 13, GOMA is now home to an illuminating new permanent work: Night Life, a brand light installation by artist James Turrell. Brisbane’s Turrell piece isn’t a standalone structure like his other two Australian works. Instead, Night Life lights up GOMA’s eastern and southern white façades from within the building, using an 88-minute-long shifting pattern of vibrant coloured light developed by Turrell especially for the location. When illuminated — which it will be from sunset to midnight each and every night from this point onwards — the gallery is visible from across the river and around South Bank’s cultural precinct.

    Words: Sarah Ward. Images: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA.

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  • 1
    Mercado — CLOSED

    Bowen Hills has yet another new addition, and while the inner-city suburb is now teeming with places to eat, Mercado wants you to not only enjoy its onsite food experiences, but to also take them home with you. A giant 1500-square-metre market hall brimming seafood, meats, cheeses, bread, pastries, chocolates, fruits and vegetables, Mercado aims to give Brisbane the kind of one-stop gourmet shop that it didn’t know it wanted. The idea is to make the routine task everyone hates — that is, buying groceries — feel luxe, and something you actually want to do. With that in mind, the site also offers tours and a personal concierge service in case you need a hand filling your pantry — and its own bottle shop, bar and restaurant, too. If you’re keen on an indulgent dinner, there’s also Far Eastern-inspired eatery, The Duck Room. It has a Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan-influenced menu and duck is — naturally — the hero ingredient. As for the drinks list, as well as a 20-page selection of wine, beer and spirits, the cocktail range is sizeable.

    Words: Sarah Ward.

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Top image: The Calile Hotel.

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