The Tower on the Gold Coast

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-By Jaime McKee

In Surfers Paradise, just steps from the beach, the spire of the world’s tallest residential building reaches majestically into the sky. Q1 (shorthand for Queensland Number One) is a skyscraper located on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The tallest building in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere and the second tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, Q1 stretches an impressive 322.5 metres to the top of its spire. With 80 storeys, a post-modern concrete and glass curtain wall exterior, and a roof height of 275 metres, Q1 serves as a formidable addition to the Gold Coast skyline.

Q1 was designed by Atelier SDG and Innovarchi, and was developed by The Sunland Group and built by Sunland Constructions between 2002 and 2005.

Its form inspired by the 2000 Sydney Olympic torch as well as the Sydney Opera House, the structure has come to be regarded as one of the truly iconic buildings in the region, and indeed, the world. Q1 was the Silver Award winner of the 2005 Emporis Skyscraper Award, coming in second to Sweden’s Turning Torso. It has also been honoured locally, recognised for its grandeur at the state’s 150th birthday celebration in 2009, and taking Building of the Year at the 2006 RAIA Gold Coast Regional Architecture Awards and a High Commendation at the 2006 RAIA Queensland Architecture Awards.

Though soon to be overtaken as the world’s tallest residential tower – when Dubai’s 395 metre 23 Marina is completed later this year – Q1 is likely to remain amongst the top 50 tallest buildings in the world for some time. While the Gold Coast skyline boasts other impressive structures – notably the 220 metre North Tower of Circle on Cavill and the 243 metre Soul building, still under construction – none are quite so imposing as Q1.

The building’s unique design lends it some of the best qualities of both the large and the small. For example, despite its towering heights, the structure experiences sway to a maximum of a relatively calm 600mm. Its three-dimensional honeycomb shape features an internal lift core which stabilises the building. And the shadow cast by Q1 is surprisingly no less imposing than that of its neighbours, owing to its clever design principles.

Q1’s foundations consist of 26 piles, each two metres in diameter, extending over 40 metres underground and through up to four metres of solid rock. Outfitted for stability and safety, the building features a fire refuge lobby on each floor, a mid-level fire command centre, a dedicated fire lift with an emergency power source, and two flights of stairs – coming in at an impressive 1331 steps each!

527 one, two, and three bedroom units comprise the residential portion of the structure, while luxury resort and spa accommodations make Q1 a destination for tourists. Apartments boast an abundance of natural light owing to floor-to-ceiling windows, and amenities include two lagoon-style swimming pools, a lap pool, a gymnasium, a children’s game room, a theatre, a ballroom, a day spa, and meeting and conference facilities. A unique retail precinct and top dining facilities – in the Q1 Beach Club and the award-winning Absynthe Restaurant – round out the structure’s offerings. Residents wishing to experience a taste of the outdoors can visit Q1’s level 60th level Sky Garden, with its 30 meter high rainforest and outdoor terrace observatory, while those who wish to take in the view can access SkyPoint, Australia’s only beachside observation deck, located on levels 77 and 78. Offering 360 degree views of Brisbane to the North, the Gold Coast Hinterland to the West, Byron Bay to the South and the Pacific Ocean to the East, SkyPoint can accommodate 400 people, and may see further expansion if a recent request to construct a walkway around level 78 is approved.

Q1’s staggering heights have proven irresistible to some; the structure has been used as a fireworks launch site during New Year’s Eve celebrations, and in 2007 was the site of (illegal) base jumping out of one of its apartments.

In 2009, reports of building disrepair began to emerge. Complaints included peeling paint, rusting interior and exterior steel, and shattered glass panels on the lower levels. The building’s north stairwell has also been assessed as defective due to its pressurisation system not meeting the minimum air flow requirements for a fire emergency. In July 2010, the Building Services Authority asked Q1’s builders to rectify the problems. While owners are understandably upset by the issues, many have hope that the building will soon be restored to its initial pristine grandeur.

While it remains to be seen whether Q1 will continue to live up to its promise, the building’s significance on the world stage cannot be argued. As a true modern Australian icon, Q1 has certainly made its mark upon the Gold Coast skyline.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 17, 2019, 5:38 AM AEDT