Gold Coast opens its houses

There’s nothing more hospitable than opening your house to strangers: giving them an insight into how you live, how you work, how you play. And this month, the entire city does just that. It’s opening its houses (and churches and schools) to people from all walks of life, to give them a unique opportunity for a behind the scenes look at what makes the city’s buildings tick.

The City’s second Open House program will unlock the doors of quirky, interesting and significant buildings and offer behind-the-scenes tours of places not typically available for public access.

More than 30 Gold Coast properties from Coomera to Currumbin are included.

Philip Follent was the City’s inaugural architect. He’s also the co-chair of Gold Coast Open House and he spoke to Blank GC about the event.

“Change can happen rapidly in a city,” Follent said. “It’s important that people understand and value their built environment.”

“The may come through the stories associated with parts of the environment like individual buildings or from understanding what goes on in those buildings.”

Many people walk past a building every day and have no idea what goes on. After an Open House experience, they’ll never walk past again without a sense of attachment.

As well as being the City’s inaugural architect, Follent has served as the Queensland Government Architect,  was the Inaugural head of School at the Soheil Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University until 2013, is Chair of Swell Sculpture Festival and a practicing architect and adviser to the State on cultural and infrastructure issues.. He’s just a bit qualified to talk about Gold Coast’s architecture.

“Infrastructure hangs around a long time,” Follent reflects. “If one looks at the last 30 years of architecture (on the Gold Coast), there are some great pieces of work between the tall steel and glass towers that often take precedence.”

“Gold Coast is known for its high rises, we are national leaders in high rise design… the capturing of lifestyle well above the ground.”

“Through the 80s and 90s, apartment designs were quite generous in area, but also sophisticated in allowing a lifestyle to be led above the ground.”

“There’s no doubt our design focus has been about capturing lifestyle opportunity – and blurring that boundary between interiors and exteriors,” Follent said.

“Our city’s identity is very much related to a built environment. The sense of opening of our buildings, opening of facades, opening of balconies, connection of outside to inside. That clearly separates our architecture from a place like north America.”

The open house event includes the Gold Coast Hospital, St Hilda’s and The Southport School, Bond University, media outlets such as ABC Gold Coast, NINE and NBN headquarters and Hot Tomato studios plus private homes, Q1 and QT and heaps more. Get the program at

Here’s five unexpected buildings, Blank GC readers will love:


The Exchange

This 60-year-old building has been adapted to a co-share office space with 26 desks, meeting room, photography studio and artist studios. It used to house the Gold Coast’s first post and telegraph office built in 1909. The old Post Office was demolished in 1967 and a new Post Office and Telephone Exchange erected a year later. Built in the stark Modernist style for $369,828, the facility was run by the Postmaster-General’s Department, part of which later became Telecom, then Telstra.

41 Nerang Street, Southport. Open 10.00am – 3.00pm, bookings required.


The Station

The Gold Coast’s original ambulance station, built in 1922 near Town Hall and Southport Courthouse, serviced the region for more than 50 years. The two-storey building (pictured in feature image) was about 80 years old when local engineering family the Howes enlisted Burling Brown Architects to restore the exterior and repurpose the interior as co-share office space. It is now home to about 30 businesses.

45 Nerang Street, Southport. Open 10.00am – 3.00pm, bookings required.


Hot Tomato House

Radio station 102.9 Hot Tomato hit the airwaves on 1 August, 2003. David Cooney Construction won a Master Builders Award for the conversion of former regional TV station into radio station. A pre-existing generator and tower – the station’s link to a Mount Tamborine’s transmitter – is still used today.

60 High Street, Southport. Open 10.00am – 3.00pm. No booking required and there will be sausages, face painting and a balloon artist on site.


Nine and NBN Gold Coast

Channel 9 Gold Coast News launched in 1996 and reporters and producers moved into offices in the 22-storey 50 Cavill, located in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Locals affectionately called it the Tower of Power, a nod to its then tenant list of power brokers. The location, just a short walk from iconic Surfers Paradise beach and the nightclub strip, put the team right at the heart of all the action on the glitter strip. The clincher was a balcony where local weather presenters could report rain, hail, gale or shine backed by Gold Coast sunset or glittering highrise skyscapes by night.

Level 17, Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise. Open 10.00am – 3.00pm, bookings required.


ABC Studios

The home of ABC Gold Coast was built in 1988, five years after launch in Surfers Paradise. The station changed from AM to FM and made its home at Mermaid Beach. The resulting 91.7 ABC Gold Coast, then called Coast FM was aimed at the youth market. Several on-air transformations followed before it became the home of local content. The building is very much a product of its time with the Grand Arch a talking point for visitors. So too is the use of gold throughout. The building, barely changed since it was built, is due a facelift. This may be the last chance to see it as is.

33 Francis Street, Mermaid Beach. 8.00am – 12 noon, bookings required.


In addition, a panel of speakers will explore the way that a sense of place, home and belonging is created in different building typologies. Gold Coast Living Macro to Micro takes place Wednesday 2 November at Gold Coast City Gallery from 6.00pm.

Gold Coast Open House takes place Saturday 5 November. Book via

Some of the highlights:



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