New Brisbane Supreme and District Court
The Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law
The Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law is arguably the most significant new building built in Brisbane’s CBD for four decades.
Work began on the new courthouse in October 2008 and the new $570 million building took a little under four years to complete. Named in honour of Her Majesty the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year, The Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law was opened by the Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency Penelope Wensley AC, at an official ceremony on 3 August 2012.
Court operations began in the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law on Monday, 27 August 2012.
A unique legal precinct
The opening of The Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law creates a unique legal precinct, linking the new building with a major public square and the existing Brisbane Magistrates Court. The building is physically integrated with Brisbane Magistrates Courts, using existing vehicle entrances and sharing some building systems.
The precinct occupies an entire city block between George, Roma and Turbot streets. Public access to the precinct is excellent, with the Roma Street Station and King George Square bus station situated within 100 metres.
The new courthouse is unique in Australia, with the co-location of the Supreme Court and District Court providing significant operating efficiencies through the use of shared facilities. In other states, these courts are physically separate, which often leads to wasteful duplication of functions and services.
The new complex heralds a new era of justice with greatly enhanced facilities for victims of crime, witnesses, jurors, lawyers, judges and members of the public.
A new court building for Brisbane
Accommodating Brisbane’s Supreme and District courts, The Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law boasts over 65,000 square metres of floor space spread over 19 floors, the $570 million building will be one of the largest court buildings in Australia and will meet the needs of the courts for the foreseeable future.
The building provides:
- capacity for 45 courtrooms, including a large ceremonial court, Court of Appeal, 27 criminal courts and 17 civil courts
- accommodation for 68 judges
- mediation rooms
- separate internal circulation systems and access for judges, jurors, prisoners, vulnerable witnesses and members of the public
- a secure public garden
- an entire floor for the Supreme Court Library
- a basement cell block for people in custody
- closed-circuit television facilities and accommodation to enable child and vulnerable witnesses and victims to give evidence in a private and secure environment
- a jurors assembly area and lounge
- registry and administrative accommodation
- one plant level
- four levels of chambers.
The building design
The design provides a radical departure from traditional court design, providing an open, accessible and transparent design in sharp contrast to the 1970’s precast concrete courthouse it replaces.
Architectus Brisbane and Guymer Bailey Architects are the project architects. They won the design competition for the Supreme Court and District Court project and were awarded the design consultancy in June 2007.
The building's straightforward layout places the criminal courts in the George Street wing and the civil courts overlooking the new public square. The public and circulation spaces join the two wings and look out to the Roma Street frontage. The building forms a triangle bounded by George Street, Roma Street and the square.
The building has a double skin glass façade with integrated screening and glass fritting (a form of glass tinting and colouring) to achieve shading and light control. This façade provides both outlook and privacy for those inside the building and an external appearance of lightness and transparency.
The design makes full use of natural light in all the courts, public waiting spaces and offices through a sophisticated system of glazed walls and layered screens. All courtrooms and jury rooms have one external glass wall, along with internal walls with high level glass allowing passage of light from public areas. The result is a light open courthouse, comprised of generously scaled and simply detailed internal spaces of dignity and presence.
The inclusion of internal and external gardens and courtyards throughout the building responds to the character of the sub-tropical environment and promotes healthy workplaces. All public areas have extensive views over adjacent streets, the square or parkland.
Benefits for the community
The courthouse features an impressive public square as part of the state Government’s commitment to making the central business district more people-friendly.
The design also contributes immensely to the urban realm of the city, creating a major new public square for Brisbane, and completing and defining both the existing powerful George Street civic axis and the new Tank Street pedestrian axis.
The civic square includes shade trees and a community green where city workers and visitors can relax on the grass, eat their lunch or read a book.
Environmentally, the focus on natural light and climate control, smart electricals, water harvesting and recycling aims for the equivalent of a five-star greenhouse rating.
Sustainability and innovation
Modern environmental technology
There are a range of sustainability measures built into the new building including water harvesting and recycling, passive solar design, recycled building materials, low-energy air cooling systems, the use of the double glass cavity and photovoltaic (solar) cells.
Approximately 80 per cent of site waste will be recycled.
The new courthouse incorporates the latest justice technology, including a state-of-the-art recording suite to take evidence from children and other vulnerable witnesses, digital audio for transcription services and free wireless broadband access for lawyers and other court users.
State-of-the-art information technology systems is employed throughout the building to facilitate security, digital recording, secure data transmission, and voice/video-conferencing facilities for all court proceedings. The high-tech management of data will improve efficiencies in operations and increase the quality of every user’s experience, including the public, staff, jurors, and sensitive witnesses.
There is also structural capacity for future technical innovation to keep pace with new forms of evidence and legal procedure over the life of the building.
Lend Lease is the managing contractor for the project. Lend Lease recently completed the Millennium Arts project, Preparatory Year of Schooling project and Brisbane Correctional Centre and Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre for the Queensland Government.
Quality assurance systems
Lend Lease quality management systems meet the requirements of SGS Systems and Services Certification - ASO 9001
Disruption to the local area
Works will be conducted within the working hours outlined by Environmental Protection Authorities (EPA) guidelines. Any works outside of these guidelines will be subject to Brisbane City Council approval.
In the immediate stages, there will be limited disruptions for the public and adjoining neighbours as construction works will be primarily contained within the site boundary.
We plan to complete haulage on Saturdays to ensure limited impact on the local traffic, especially during peak hours.
Given the scale of the project, minimal disruption is anticipated. Adjoining neighbours and stakeholders will receive newsletters updating them on site and project activities and notices regarding any additional noise works outside of normal working hours.