I never thought something like this would have been possible, but I have become enamoured with a plaza. Not the 1980’s gathering-of-soulless-cookie-cutter-shops type of plaza that once littered the Brisbane landscape (though I confess to once having a fleeting schoolgirl crush on the since demolished City Plaza), but the spiffy 21st century one that recently opened down at the Newstead Gasworks precinct.
Overlooked by the giant industrial-gothic gas ring (the sole relic of the gasworks that used to operate in this no-man’s land) that looms up over the landscape like a kind of Brisbane Stone Henge, the Gasworks Plaza could be the lovechild of the Barracks and Portside, only with the best traits of both parents.
Despite being located on what was previously an airless ex-industrial wasteland, Gasworks Plaza has been designed to catch the river breezes so that anybody dining in its eateries can stay cool al fresco throughout summer. In a nod to the arts that all retail centres could do well to learn from, incorporated into the design are some stunning industrial-inspired public artworks. And best of all it features a performance space under the heritage-listed gas ring which gets a lively workout on weekends from musicians, and, in between acts, the young and the restless offspring of nearby diners.
Good looks aside, some of the tenants here alone warrant a visit to the plaza, from the giant gourmet foodie heaven complete with cheese wall (not an artwork) that is The Standard Market Company, Reef Seafood and Sushi, the seafood restaurant that has imported its own Japanese chef as part of its merry gang and Hatch and Co, an upmarket casual diner from the creators of some of Brisbane’s best venues (Laruche, Gerards Bistro and Lychee Lounge) a funky Campos coffee bar, florist and a fro yo bar perfect for the onslaught of summer.
And that’s just the start, with a Chinese 200 seater and a whole Stage 2 building on the way.