Queensland Performing Arts Centre
New Performing Arts Venue




In May 2019 Snohetta was announced the winner of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) design competition together with local Brisbane based partner Blight Rayner. The theatre is a government funded project with a large number of stakeholders, on a compact site that requires intensive technical coordination to achieve maximum functionality. It will serve the QPAC for ballet, opera and drama, and amplified performances including Broadway musicals, and will have flexibility to cater for new and emerging theatre styles and trends. The project will provide a 1500 seat commercial theatre venue in the heart of Brisbane.

Technical details

Performance Space
Under Construction
Meanjin / Brisbane, Australia



Blight Rayner 


"Beneath the Southern Cross, and the canopy of the rainforest along the river bank, the Kurilpa, which still survives here, dug out its nests, and left its tracks. They looked out over the river, the ripples on its surface stirred by the wind and tidal surge, and the fish swimming in the water."

Aunty Lilla Watson, 2006

a layered approach

The design seeks to honour the traditional owners, the Turrbal and Yuggera people, and is inspired by the movement and flow of the Brisbane River. Aunty Lilla Watsons short prose poem about the kurilpa native water rat was a key reference, conveying the spirit of the river.

The building is arranged in a layers. The auditorium is at the heart, encased in a concrete shell that builds upon the legacy of the existing 1986 Robin Gibson building, a bold modernist composition of stepped concrete. A rippled glass veil wraps around the concrete core, referencing the reflection and movement of the river, revealing and blurring the activities within.

The theatre venue is conceived as the warm heart of the new building, made of curved timber ribbons that express the energy flow between performer and viewer. The black spaces created between the expressive timber ribbons are used strategically, to accommodate equipment and technical functions.

Render by Ray Lau

welcoming, functional, flexible

The brief calls for a space that is warm and welcoming, unique and memorable, with a sense of occasional appropriate to its contemporary setting and flexible functionality. The finishes will celebrate the lush forests of Queensland through the use of warm timber, lustrous deep green seating and carpet, and black timber battens and panels. The use of textured and varied batten profiles creates desirable acoustic scattering and enables various levels of acoustic absorbance and transparency to be achieved within the one finish.

A highly flexible orchestra pit, with three lifts and one rostra row, allows for four different pit sizes and multiple pit levels to suit the needs of many different performance modes and events. The lifts can also be used to create a thrust stage.

The original brief calls for a single balcony with side circle boxes. To increase the sense of intimacy and connection between audience and performers, the front edges of the balcony were pulled as close to the stage as possible, and an additional row of balcony boxes was added to create fullness and visual balance.

To enhance the sense of intimacy, continental seating is used at the front of the stalls and balcony, with the rear seats on both levels having aisles at the sides at approximately 25%, 50% and 25% distribution. This achieves a balance between accessibility and togetherness.

QPAC New Performing Arts Centre is located on Meanjin Country of the Turrbal Peoples. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we live and work and pay our respect to Elders past, present and future.