QUT students tackle real world design projects

QUT Bachelor of Creative Industries students collaborated with Lendlease to research, plan and create an innovative activation for King Street, Bowen Hills.

Licking your lips after enjoying a fresh strawberry sundae is synonymous with the Ekka. Thanks to the work of QUT students, we can all conjure those warm and fuzzy memories year-round by gazing upon the giant pink neon installation on King Street, Bowen Hills.

The pink strawberry sundae neon light has helped to activate King Street, Bowen Hills. Photo courtesy of Michael Blazek.

The transformation of Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds has given the area a much-needed regeneration. It has also presented an exciting opportunity for QUT Creative Industries students to put their stamp on the new look.

Students come to QUT knowing they can apply real world teaching in the industry they aspire to be part of. From design, fashion, visual arts, animation and theatre to music, media, dance and creative writing, partnerships with organisations like Lendlease provide invaluable opportunities.

Lendlease is behind the bold plan to link Gregory Terrace and St Paul’s Terrace with a mix of retail, dining and hotel accommodation in the heart of the Brisbane Showgrounds.  Instead of only coming to life in August, the King Street Precinct is now an exciting hub for year-round action and QUT students are a big part of its ongoing development.

It all started in 2016 when QUT Bachelor of Creative Industries students collaborated with Lendlease to research, plan and create an innovative activation for King Street.

With a specific brief from the Lendlease Public Realm and Marketing and Place Urban Regeneration Departments, student teams pitched projects to enhance the precinct and give joy to the community.

The unique and playful strawberry sundae concept was one of the outcomes.

Pink Strawberry Sundae neon light - step 1

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Even the King Street car park has a QUT connection with industrial design alumnus Tom Emmett’s award-winning artwork in its façade, which is Brisbane’s largest public art installation. His design was inspired by the continual flow of people, ideas, producers, livestock and culture through the Brisbane Showgrounds over 100 years, and incorporates 58,000white diamond-shaped pixels, installed in five days by over 150 volunteers.

This year Creative Industries students have been working on a range of other King Street Precinct projects for Lendlease, including a ‘Sleep Refresh Work Relax’ brief which, on paper, transformed the Royal Snack Bar into a Micro Hotel.

Second year interior design students were asked to design a destination experience for ‘Global Nomads’ visiting Brisbane for business or pleasure. They re-imagined compact hotel rooms, public spaces and an aligned retail facility for a particular client demographic. The project was inspired by Brisbane’s subtropical climate, the unique site and context of the RNA showgrounds and Lendlease’s four development pillars.

QUT Lecturer in Interior Design and project coordinator Natalie Wright said the students showcased their diverse skillset by producing fresh, unconventional design outcomes for their portfolios while opening up future career opportunities though their real world industry experience.

“Working closely with a national organisation and industry leader like Lendlease gives QUT students a major head start when they are ready to seek employment,” said Ms Wright.

“This kind of opportunity inspires them, gets them noticed, expands their networks and boosts their project management, teamwork and social skills.

“The King Street Precinct in particular, has also given them an important insight into the tremendous impact creative industries can have in a community.”

In semester two, Lendlease will provide a live brief to Bachelor of Creative Industries students who will visit the King Street Precinct, develop project ideas and pitch them.   

A QUT Creative Industries student shares her idea for Lendlease.

Bachelor of Creative Industries course coordinator Dr Sarah Winter said the students would have six weeks to come up with an idea.

“We allow flexibility for the students to develop ideas that come from a design thinking process of empathy. So each project is designed as a response to a need,” Dr Winter said. 

“The brief from Lendlease essentially asks the students to develop ideas to enliven the precinct and encourage people to visit and experience all that the King Street Precinct has to offer.

“King Street is seen as the ‘front door’ to the re-imagined Brisbane Showgrounds space and community.

“Lendlease has four project place pillars considered in all redevelopment plans – paddock to plate, hyper local, modern history and urban eclectic. These concepts will guide our students in their design thinking.”  

Future King Street projects that will involve QUT students include the fitout of 25 King St, the world’s tallest engineered timber office building. Students will investigate workplace design principles, the Green Star compliance and the structural and services aspects of the building. 

Michelle Wooldridge Project Director, Brisbane Showgrounds, said the company was enriched through its engagement with QUT’s Creative Industries students.

“It’s a win-win really. We know the students get a lot of working with us in terms of real world experience and building their resume but it also keeps Lendlease in touch with fresh new ideas,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“It is a really positive way to foster bright young design minds who will be responsible in future for creating liveable and sustainable environments like that which is being created at Brisbane Showgrounds which has made it the most exciting new inner-city suburb to live, work and play in.

“The King Street Precinct is the heart and soul of that suburb and QUT’s students have shown they are able to read and set trends that appeal to the community.

“There is also the added benefit of talent spotting for future employees of Lendlease and associated design and architectural firms. We are always on the look-out for people with an innovative approach to urban development.”