Development Approved for Annerley Supermarket

Brisbane City Council has approved the proposed new supermarket for Annerley on Ipswich Road, which comes with local support and pent-up demand. The POWE Team has been working with Capital Transactions to design a carefully considered response to the site context, including the heritage-listed Glassworx on the corner.

Verandas on the supermarket rear wall and arch frieze accents between structure break down the façade mass and reflect the local vernacular, along with layered planting and complementary coloured glass.

Read more here: Annerley Supermarket

Redbank Plains Child Care Centre

Kids Club’s Redbank Childcare Centre is due to complete construction towards the end of March 2021, with the capacity to cater for 116 children. It’s been a pleasure working with Apollo Property to deliver this fun project for Capital Transactions.

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What a Blast! 2020 Christmas Party @ Smoked Garage - A Big Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who attended our Christmas party at the awesome @smoked_garage_brisbane, it was magic!

In a year like no other, where social contact was heavily sanitised and face to face meetings were reduced to Zoom and Teams, the best thing we could do was to bring everyone together, celebrate getting through this difficult year together and importantly, say:
thank you!

Thank you to everyone for your determination, tenacity and resilience while we’ve navigated through all this uncertainty. For your understanding and patience during the lockdown, when we all worked remotely and did our best to seamlessly deliver your projects, we say thank you.

To our new clients for showing faith in us, to our long term clients for your support and loyalty, and to everyone for keeping us informed and sharing your thoughts and opinions during unpredictable times; thank you. Thank you for understanding how important cashflow is to a business of our size. And thank you for checking in on us from time to time just to see if we were doing OK. It meant a lot and reminded us that:

we are all in this together!

In the brief window where borders to our neighbouring states were opened, my father and I took the opportunity to visit the Warrumbungle National Park in central New South Wales. This trip was inspired by another road trip in 2017. While returning to Brisbane from Kosciuszko National Park, the Warrumbungle’s volcanic peaks of the park grew from the barren horizon of NSW central-western plains and we immediately added it to our bucket list.

What I didn’t know at the time, is that the park, roughly eight hours south-west of Brisbane, is Australia’s only Dark Sky Park.

What does this mean?

Due to its remote location, low light pollution and high altitude, it makes the park the perfect spot for stargazing.

Why did this excite me so much?

Because while I love architectural photography, my true photography passion is astrophotography!

Astrophotography from Glasshouse Mountains
Astrophotography from Glasshouse Mountains

With a less-than-favourable weather forecast for Friday night, we arrived late Thursday afternoon and set up camp. If the view from our camp was anything to go by, I knew I was in for a photographic treat.

Warrumbungle is a Gamilaroi word meaning crooked mountain. Sheer & dramatic peaks formed over thousands of years of volcanic activity including volcanic plugs and dykes, such as the parks most iconic formation, The Breadknife.

The Breadknife formation shot from our campsite
The Breadknife formation shot from our campsite

We spent the first night exploring the park in search of the perfect vantage point to shoot both the peaks of the park and the sparkling lights above. Unfortunately, due to the geographical arrangement of the park, such spots don’t exist. That is unless you’re willing to hike the Grand High Tops Walk. Marked as one of the top ten hikes in NSW, this hike will see you climb and scramble up various volcanic volumes. You can even camp on the mountainous ridge to capture some of the best panoramic views Australia has to offer.

We didn’t this time, but I will be back!

Instead, we completed the somewhat less intimidating, but still slightly sketchy, Macha Tor hike with views towards the Grand High Tops.

The Warrumbungles striking geological formations
The Warrumbungles striking geological formations

Shooting the stars

Our final night in Australia’s only Dark Sky Park saw us embark on an astronomy tour at the Warrumbungle Observatory just outside of Coonabarabran, known as the stargazing capital of Australia. Here, we had the opportunity to use telescopes to view star clusters, nebulae, constellations, and neighbouring planets such as Saturn and Jupiter. The real reward of the night, and the trip, was the opportunity to connect my camera to an observational telescope to photograph the Lagoon Nebula.

This giant interstellar gas cloud is located in the Sagittarius constellation, approximately 5,200 light-years from Earth. I found trying to comprehend our distance from Earth to the nebula, and distance in time I was looking back through unfathomable. I was also completely taken back by the colours and formations my small camera had captured. This one image perfectly captured the ending to our trip and I was leaving the Warrumbungle National Park one happy photographer…. that and the cloud rolled in about two hours later and it rained for three days straight on our drive home.

Lagoon Nebula
Lagoon Nebula

By Jayden Cronon. Click through to see what else Jayden has been working on:

Annerley Supermarket

Redbank Plains Childcare

And Jayden’s previous article:

By Lizbeth Montesinos

For many years, I have been interested in urban farming and its intersection with architecture and urban planning. The future of cities depends on food and water security, as well as social sustainability. A year-and-half ago, I was invited to join a group of Taringa neighbours and form a community garden. To me, this presented the perfect opportunity to try a practical application of my ideas and interests.

We formed a committee with the mission to create a space for the community to gather, cultivate food locally and educate the community to adopt sustainable practices.

Seeds of change

There are no guidelines about how to start a community garden on Council land. Our process of community consultation started through surveys where local people expressed what they would like to see in the community garden.

At the same time, our community development officer helped us to develop a mission and vision for the garden. We have learned a lot about community engagement and stakeholder management this last year, from maintaining community engagement through events like Clean up Australia to approaching local community groups to develop partnerships.

With the help of our local MP, Councillor and other local community groups, like Vera Street Community Garden and the Cubberla Witton Catchment Network, we secured land in Perrin Park to develop the Community Garden and a composting hub.

The site comes with a lot of challenges from flooding, soil contamination and a nearby bat colony, but we are happy to be able to apply sustainable practices in our community. Some of these challenges have been addressed through council-proposed garden bed selection and design. These designs will be available through the Council website for future community gardens.

From little things….

Our composting hub is currently operational and the garden bed prototypes are established. We are in the process of funding grant applications to build more garden beds and start the garden. Our collaboration with Council continues to create a community garden model that can be replicated to other sites across Brisbane. We hope that with the lessons we learned during our process we can inspire and help other community groups.

Taringa Garden proposed layout - drawing
Taringa Garden proposed layout

Click through to see what else Lizbeth has been working on in the office.

Sierra Nuvo Apartments
Buderim Retail Centre

Courtesy of Lucas Muro, first images of the completed Sierra Nuvo are in!

Architectural photography: turning challenges into opportunities

By Jayden Cronon

With lockdown conditions easing, the POWE team took the opportunity to take a break from the home office to finally breathe some fresh air, hit the road for a snappy tour and photograph some recently completed projects. Armed with a wide-angle lens, zoom lens and tripod, I shot the subject projects varied in scope, size and type, ranging from a childcare centre, retail centres and service centres.

Photoshoot orientation

Arriving on-site, the first step is to explore the subject being photographed. This allows you to investigate the opportunities the architecture and the site present. It also allows you to understand how light interacts with space and plan the shoot, mentally sketching out the suite of shots in your mind. An active site may also be busy and we may need to work around pedestrian and vehicle traffic and other active hazards.

Seeing with your camera’s eyes

The one thing that is often out of our control is also the most crucial in architectural photography; lighting. Without ideal lighting or weather conditions to emphasise the structure, space or atmosphere, images may appear flat, washed-out or even lifeless.

During the week the POWE team was snapping away, we were quite fortunate with mostly clear skies or dramatic clouds. Naturally, however, beautiful clear skies and abundance of natural light can present other challenges.

When photographing in very bright sunny conditions, lighting can become very harsh, with naturally illuminated areas becoming overexposed and areas in shadow becoming underexposed. When we see this in real-time, our eyes and our brains naturally adjust to and compensate for these conditions.

Trying to compromise between harsh bright light and deep shade with your camera alone is challenging to find the right balance between over and underexposure.

This is where exposure blending in post-processing software comes into play.

Snap with contrast & balance

Exposure blending allows you to refine the tonal contrast of the image, retaining the details of objects and spaces in shadow, without washing out surfaces exposed to natural light.

An example where this technique is helpful would be retaining the lighting and signage details of commercial shopfronts under awnings, without the sky being overexposed or ‘blown out’, appearing flat white, rather than blue. A greater dynamic range of light is typically achieved with post-processing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

A Vertical Perspective

Another challenge, particularly with architectural photography, is working with vertical perspective. Like exposure balance, our eyes typically adjust what we see in real-time so that we tend not to notice the distortion of vertical perspective. Some photographers choose to embrace the converge of parallel lines, and this can be used to excellent dynamic effect.

Often, vertical perspective is less problematic on smaller buildings or projects, or where the camera is positioned at a distance from the subject site. However, for some of the projects we shot, vertical perspective presented a significant challenge for entry canopies of the larger retail centres. This can be corrected while photographing on-site utilising tilt-shift lenses.

Nevertheless, if you can’t afford the luxury (or baggage!) of an extensive collection of highly specialised lenses, we can utilise post-processing software to handle small amounts of perspective correction. It is crucial, however, that when we utilise post-processing software, that the final images stay true to what was captured on-site and doesn’t try to suggest that the architecture is something it is not.

While architectural photography can prove to be challenging, learning how to turn those challenges into opportunities and overcome issues of false perspective or bad lighting, results in images that can be invaluable for a practice. Architectural photography can showcase the creativity and knowledge of the architects through a plethora of formats, on a variety of platforms. However these images don’t just benefit the architect, they showcase a product or outcome that a client may want to achieve, or inspire potential users to travel to the place and enjoy it for themselves.

As this COVID19 Lockdown and social isolation situation has made us spend so much more time inside our homes, no doubt this has precipitated many of us reconsidering our current housing.

Locked down, in such constant proximity to partners and children, intensifying the work-home-school-life-balance juggle, may have some of us longing for a little more space.

Whether we think we need an extension for a dedicated home office or recreation space, crave a full wing for a parent’s retreat, or if our apartment is suddenly much too small; how do we know what we really need?

Our Director, Len Powe, discusses some thoughts to help us decide what we really need: should we stay and renovate or extend? Should we move to a larger home? In the words of The Clash, Should I stay, or should I go…?

We start with the reality that you will likely live in a minimum of three different residential dwelling types during your lives.

  1. The one when you build a relationship and grow into a young family (fur kids count as family too!)
  2. The one where you bring up your school age/teenage/student children, where you all need separation and privacy (the home you may be dreaming of during lockdown!) and
  3. The empty nest one. This one is either your second home, remodelled to allow your children (and their families) to visit and stay (they may live interstate or overseas) or alternatively, you “downsize”.

Before you start on the uncertain experience of undertaking (any) building project, consider the following:

  1. What is a reasonable budget? How much can you borrow and/or afford to spend, particularly if interest rates increase significantly?
  2. What do you need to include in that budget? Rental costs (read on below), new furniture, window coverings, floor coverings, appliances?
  3. Is there anything you are prepared to do yourself or separately? “Painting” is the first idea everyone has when trying to save money, but be careful and think it through.
  4. What is the current value of your property and how much would you have to spend if you added this selling price to your extension budget?
  5. Are there properties in the area you could purchase for this combined amount and still achieve a similar outcome without the pain of the extension?
  6. Should you just look for another property and build your “dream” home to your brief and without compromising?

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of these different scenarios can be summarised as follows:

Undertaking an extension or renovation

  1. You will not be able to live in the house while the construction work is being undertaken, for obvious reasons such as noise, dust, safety and insurance.
  2. Therefore, you will have the cost of moving and renting during construction (remembering, it always takes longer than you think). A side note; moving house is regarded as one of the top 3 most stressful things you can do.
  3. You have a likely timeframe of 7-10 years to enjoy the benefits of the improvements and to realise your costs in value appreciation.
  4. You will avoid selling agents fees, removalists costs and stamp duty. This money can then supplement the budget for the home improvements.
  5. You have the advantage of already knowing whether you can tolerate your neighbours.

Selling now and buying an upgrade in the same area

  1. Avoids the stress and inconvenience of the construction work. This advantage is not to be underestimated. (“It’s all too hard. I just want to move to a bigger house and let someone else do the renovation.”)
  2. Change is generally good.
  3. You will incur relocation costs (including agents fees, removalists costs and stamp duty).
  4. Typically, there is always something that still needs to be done to make it what you want.
  5. You can’t choose or change neighbours.

Building new

  1. You (generally) get what you want in the design of the home without compromising or buying someone else’s problems.
  2. You need to be patient. It can be difficult to find good vacant sites or “knockdowns” with the ideal location, aspect, orientation, noise, proximity to transport and amenities.
  3. There is the challenge of lots of decisions and selections to make (this can also be fun if you are properly advised).
  4. Everything is new when you move in.
  5. This option will take the longest time to complete as a project.
  6. This is also likely the most expensive option but, if you plan to stay for 15-20 years and make this your family home, a great alternative.
  7. This asset option is the most likely to appreciate in value the most.
  8. You still can’t choose or change neighbours.

No doubt there’s some food for thought here, to promote some robust discussion for those who have been longing for a little more space during the current lockdown.

What do you think? If you’ve had to approach this decision before, we’re interested to hear how you approached the decision and key factors that helped you make the decision. Did you stay or did you go?

aka office vibes during the lockdown and how we’re REALLY doing

It’s hump day of week 6 of COVID19 Lockdown. While we have been – and still are – regularly checking in with each other in the team, and asking RUOK…? But how are we really feeling as we ride this COVIDCoaster?

From an Office Manager’s observation, it has been a rollercoaster of emotion amongst our team.

Some may argue that architects may tend to be more emotional than other professions… perhaps.

I present, The COVIDCOASTER: the POWE Team week-by-week, play-by-play, highs and lows of lockdown.

Week 1 – the Honeymoon period

We were all a bit excited about the opportunity to work remotely. The comforts of home, testing the technology, introducing the fur-kids to Zoom and Teams, skipping the stress of school drop-offs, battling traffic or public transport crowds and delays.

We even found some new playlists, great online workouts and a spot to roll out the yoga mat! We were gonna nail this lockdown!

Week 2 – Hitting our stride

We are #Allinthistogether (…four weeks later, does anyone still love this song!?? More like #Wearealloverittogether ?!?)

If we were lucky enough to find flour in the supermarket, we were getting into #quaranbaking, tracking down the best #quarantips and other long-neglected hobbies and hashtags.

We had ironed out the kinks in the tech, found the “Touch up my Appearance” setting in Zoom, and our favourite spot in the house for videoconferences. We even did all those online yoga classes that we found!

Week 3 – Over the Honeymoon

Watch out for the energy drop after the Easter long weekend!

After an Easter long weekend in lockdown – that would otherwise have been enjoyed outdoors making the most of the end of summer – the energy and enthusiasm dropped off dramatically. This was no mere post-chocolate-binge low. This was getting to be a real bummer. And the dog was tired from all the extra walking!

We were really in the lows of the COVIDCoaster now!

Week 4 – Rallying for the long haul

The lead up to Anzac Day seemed to provide a timely reminder, that the lockdown, while becoming tedious and tiresome, was no comparison to years of appalling war; and our small inconveniences weighed nothing against the sacrifices made by those who lived and died 100 years ago.

The team rallied. We knuckled down.

This was especially true for parents of school-aged children who suddenly had to juggle not only full-time remote working but also new challenges of home-schooling supervision as Term 2 kicked off.

Week 5 – The Blur

Yes, we’re in the long haul now. We feel it. We know it. When every day becomes Blursday.

But we’ve also learned a lot and know that we need to keep plugging away to get through this. We know that this will not just take a little extra effort. We know that VC meetings take extra energy and tire us more. [Check out National Geographic’s recent article on Zoom Fatigue.] But we also know that we are not the only ones feeling this way and we understand why. The extra effort to maintain our social and human interactions in the current context are more taxing and everyone is feeling it. We are over it. But so is everyone else and we are a team.

So, we find new locations in the house for our videoconferences. We use our phones instead of our laptops. We’ve not only mastered quirky backgrounds for Zoom and Teams, but we’ve also found the Snapchat plugin! (Talking banana anyone…?)

Week 6 – The End is in Sight

The sense of relief as Queensland lifted some COVID19 restrictions shouldn’t be underestimated. While we may not have been able to venture far from home, simply knowing that we could, gave us enough hope that this COVIDCoaster lockdown would soon be all over. And the opportunity to enjoy some time outdoors on such a brilliant Labour Day weekend seemed to recharge all of us.

While nothing is set in stone, announcing a staggered plan for children to return to school over the coming weeks is another strong indicator that the end of lockdown is coming. And no doubt a welcome relief for homeschooling parents.

What will the next few weeks bring?

Our team currently has a tipping competition for a return-to-usual date. I’ve got May 25. What do you think?

Networking in a lockdown. A locked-down network. A virtual network.

A month into lockdown life and for some of us, the lack of face-to-face human interaction is starting to take a toll with events we had been looking forward to cancelled or transitioned to an online format.

For some events, as insightful, relevant and informative as they may be, the real value, is the ability to invite clients or colleagues along as a marketing opportunity and to network with potential clients and other industry professionals.

The absence of interactive networking is proving a real challenge in the COVID-19 environment and a webinar-style event just isn’t the same as the face to face experience. Through some platforms and with some tech-savvy operators, the possibility of break-out forums with say, 6-8 participants is interesting; a bit like an online boardroom lunch. This concept has been popular in various formats pre-quarantine, but we can see it struggling in a virtual space particularly if there is a dominant guest.

Such a format would require a savvy facilitator/moderator with an egalitarian approach to prevent the session being hijacked by one or two dominant speakers and to provide space to invite introverted attendees to speak or ask questions to ensure all voices are heard.

There are other limitations inherent in the current VC technology and platforms.

As a part of this industry, architects are business people who just happen to also create spaces and design buildings. We do our best to understand our clients’ businesses and their challenges and help to address their needs through our connections, professional reputation and business experience.

Most of our business success is through our face to face meetings and personal contacts. It’s a very people focussed business, requiring good listening skills. However, this is only one layer of communication.

Tiny or pixelated screens and chugging or overloaded internet connections (anyone else sometimes reminded of the old dial-up days…?) can make it hard to read facial expressions or body language or gain any real clues from a person’s tone of voice or posture.

Unsurprisingly, some people are currently finding digital communication challenging and tiring, requiring a lot of concentration. National Geographic’s recent article on Zoom Fatigue rings true with a lot of us, explaining how video calls, whilst providing an elegant solution to working remotely, can cause complex ‘wear & tear’ on our mental load. We are all social beings who look forward to the time when we can greet each other and interact in the socially acceptable, traditional manner and all its subtle, layered nuances.

In the meantime, our team has been considering the changes to our business development methods required by the current isolation and we appreciate that our existing and potential clients are currently a “captive audience” spending a lot/all of their time connecting with the outside business world through digital means.

We are increasing our social media presence and ramping up the good news about our projects and case studies, publishing anything other than what we are doing about COVID-19 or the challenges of working from home!

Check out the National Geographic article here:

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/science-and-technology/2020/04/zoom-fatigue-is-taxing-the-brain-heres-why-that-happens

We found it particularly relevant and would be interested to hear whether our colleagues have had the same experience.