Brisbane Magistrates Court

Brisbane, Queensland

The Brisbane Magistrates Court performs as both an important civic building in the Brisbane CBD’s legal precinct and as a catalyst for the north-west expansion of the CBD known as the Citywest precinct. Its design combines significant urban design strategies to shape this future growth by instigating particular civic connections with architectural approaches that impart a new typology to buildings for justice.

The buildings triangular form was developed to facilitate simultaneously contextual and typological benefits. Contextually, it generates a major pedestrian spine from George Street through to Roma Street Parklands, this spine currently being extended from the site over Roma Street. Typologically, it enables the building to be made more transparent than is conventionally the case with courts buildings. These generators guided the articulation forms and treatment of spaces and surfaces towards initiatives which impart human scale, enriched by artwork and architectural language. This language entailed the devising of repeated forms from roofs and canopies to window screens, seats, joinery and surface articulation as a means of devolving the impression of scale.

The building works vertically in four zones – detainees level, public level, seven courts levels and two magistrates levels. It is arranged in plan with courts flanking two sides and a central intervening space facilitating orientation, outwards views, waiting and negotiating. The principal function challenge was to segregate public, magistrate and detainee circulation systems, achieved by wrapping the latter two systems around the perimeter. This strategy offered the additional benefit of increasing the apparent transparency of the building.

The Magistrates Court is the culmination of an unusually cooperative process of design and fabrication – between two client bodies, two architects, 15 artists, several consultants and contractors which facilitated considerable exploration of the meaning, role and substance of the courts building.

  • Awards
  • Technical Information
  • Cox Team

Art & Architecture Award, RAIA QLD 2005

High Commendation for Interior Architecture, RAIA QLD 2005

Public Building Architecture Award, RAIA QLD 2005

In association with
ABM Architects
Department of Justice and Attorney General, Queensland Government
Project Status
Completed, 2001-2004
Key Consultants
Don Hewitt (Project Services), Robert Bird Group, Norman Disney & Young, SPP Group, Tract Consultants, Ron Rumble Renzo Tonin, Rider Hunt, RCP, Arup, Jay Younger, Daniel Templeman, Fiona Foley, Eugene Carchesio, Judy Watson, Freya Pinney, Sandra Selig, Barbara Heath, Guy Parmenter, Marian Drew, Sebastian di Mauro, Judith Kentish, Bruce Reynolds, Lilla Watson, Judith Wright, Philip Chun & Associates
Contractor / Builder
Walter Constructions
Gross Floor Area
Jeffrey Bennett
Arlyn Mangabat