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Brisbane Powerhouse acknowledges and respects the ancestral homelands of the Turrbal, Ugarapul/Yugarapul and Jagera peoples, the Traditional Custodians of this country. We pay respects to all Elders past, present and emerging, and welcome all visiting Elders.
A distinct landmark, both as a striking pre-war industrial building and a hub for creativity, art and cultural innovation, Brisbane Powerhouse is situated on the Brisbane River, and central to the bustling New Farm Park precinct.
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 where squatters and artists made their home amongst dangerous industrial structures.
Surviving two decades of neglect and a partially completed demolition project, the building was reacquired by Brisbane City Council in 1989, 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.
Brisbane Powerhouse nowadays is surrounded by family homes and apartment buildings, and makes a significant impact on Brisbane’s economic and cultural landscape as an iconic arts centre.
The industrial red brick facade, interior steel beams and cement floors are remnants of a once-bustling power-station now a much-loved centre for storytelling through art and culture.
We acknowledge the Jagera/Turrbal peoples, the First Nation Traditional Owners of the land on which we gather. We pay respects to all Elders past and present and acknowledge the young leaders who are working beside our Elders in our cultural industries. We recognise all First Nation peoples as the original storytellers of these lands and acknowledge the important role they continue to play in our community.