Using innovative engineering to protect artworks in open galleries from south-east Queensland’s subtropical climate.


  • Queensland, Australia



  • Environmentally Sustainable Design
  • Specialist Lighting Design
  • Audio Visual, ICT & Technology
  • (View all)

Project Value

  • AU$107 million

Project Status

  • Completed 2006


WSP used innovative engineering to protect GOMA's artworks in open galleries from south-east Queensland’s subtropical climate. 

On this riverside site, the Queensland Cultural Centre sought to create a new Brisbane landmark with one of the largest galleries of modern and contemporary art in Australia. The design of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) had to acknowledge the city grid and the river while providing a dynamic stage for various cultural uses. With a floor area of over 25,000 m2, GOMA has two major levels of exhibition space, two cinemas, education facilities, a restaurant and boardwalk café.


Multidisciplinary Services Delivered

Working closely with our client, we took an integrated approach to building services, security, vertical transportation, audio-visual, sustainability and lighting design.


GOMA challenges the 'dark box' gallery trend. The architect’s use of natural daylight, open floor plans, large overhangs and balconies presented some interesting engineering challenges.


GOMA must display artwork in an atmosphere that always protects the pieces. Glazed façades made the building vulnerable to the external climate and southern Queensland's intense daylight.


Our innovative solution was an Australian design first. We used floor-fed displacement to maintain the galleries' temperature and humidity, ensuring stability throughout the building. This has increased the gallery’s ability to borrow important works.


Other key features include:

  • A passive design approach achieved through the overhanging roof that shades the walls at critical times
  • Sun-shading elements and façade materials
  • Campus-wide central energy plant
  • Daylighting studies that enabled us to maximise natural light to public spaces without affecting displayed artwork
  • River heat rejection


Valuable Outcomes Realised

GOMA is an award-winning public building that encompasses several significant sustainable design initiatives. The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art institution holds a collection of over 17,000 works of historical, modern and contemporary art and stages a dynamic program of local and international exhibitions.

25000 sqm