WHO ARE WE?
Believe it or not, we haven’t always been this pleasing to the eye.
From power station to underground art haven, our history spans across generations.
The industrial red brick facade, interior steel beams, gantry, generator and cement floors are all remnants of Brisbane’s tram days; when, in the early-mid 1900s, the city was serviced by a bustling tram system.
As a power station, Brisbane Powerhouse not only expanded the tram network, but generated power and lighting for the suburbs of Toowong, Ithaca and Yeerongpilly.
Coal supplies were delivered to the Powerhouse by river and train, then burned in a boiler to produce steam which in turn, ran the turbine to generate electricity.
The tramway was decommissioned in 1971, thus beginning the spiral into dereliction.
Hordes of squatters and artists made their home amongst dangerous industrial structures and left a legacy of graffiti, or what is now officially known as heritage-listed aerosol art.
Talk of rave parties and break-ins are common – with SES tearing down doors with axes and chainsaws for training, the UQ Architectural School hosting rock shows and Queensland Collage of Art students trespassing to create short films.
After 23 years of heedless fun and neglect, New Farm Powerhouse finally opened to the public in 1994 – in a spectacle like no other.
Imagine people scaling the inner brick walls, surrounded with acts of art, fire and pyrotechnics, opera singers, circus performances and strange costumes. This was Transplant, the rebellious event which broke the 23-year-old art drought, and set Brisbane Powerhouse into its contemporary direction of provocative art.
Reacquired by Brisbane City Council in 1989, the building 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.
Brisbane Powerhouse is now known as a leading art precinct within the contemporary arts culture of Brisbane city. Engaging with artists and audiences like never before, our deeply rooted connections to not only the city, but the trailblazing performers within music, theatre, comedy, dance, film, visual arts and in-conversation allow our venue to inspire the space and people around us.
Come visit, and be a part of our next chapter.