In the early 1900s Brisbane City Council cast its vision towards a tramway system. The result was the creation of the Brisbane City Council New Farm Powerhouse, designed by council Tramway Architect Roy Rusden Ogg and constructed in stages between 1928 and 1940. Built on the eastern riverside point of what is now New Farm Park, the water from the river provided cooling and the rail link supplied coal.
At its peak in the post-war years the New Farm Powerhouse supplied electricity for the largest tram network in the southern hemisphere and serviced many of Brisbane’s suburbs. When trams were replaced by buses, Brisbane City Council sold the building to the state. The Powerhouse was officially decommissioned in 1971.
The now derelict building was a welcome shelter for the homeless, a site for target practice for the army, a location for film-makers and, as a precursor of its future, a canvas for graffiti artists and a stage for underground art happenings.
Surviving two decades of neglect and a partially completed demolition project, the building was reacquired by Brisbane City Council in 1989. A significant example of industrial design of the art deco period, the power station was envisioned as a space for arts and culture.
The redeveloped Brisbane Powerhouse was designed by Brisbane City Council architect Peter Roy and was opened on 10 May, 2000 by Lord Mayor Jim Soorley. Seven years later the building underwent a further stage of development to increase audience capacities, restaurant and bar facilities as well as functions and conference spaces. Brisbane Powerhouse was re-opened on 6 June, 2007 by Lord Mayor Campbell Newman.
Since its re-opening in 2007, Brisbane Powerhouse now puts on 1,200 artistic performances a year which are chosen in line with our Cultural Vision.