Raising the roof of the Top of Town
VISIONARY architect Graham Birchall has big plans for Ipswich, with the centrepiece a futuristic building in the Top of Town.
The director of Birchall Constructions has been a builder in Ipswich since 1983 but his portfolio has escalated in recent years.
Until now, his most famous creation has been the bubble house he built in Karalee that features 11 domes and 16 rooms.
But he is planning an even more eye-catching four-storey building on land he bought at 202 Brisbane St for $600,000 in 2007.
Mr Birchall said he was attracted to the site next to the Bob Jane T-Marts outlet simply because it was in the Top of Town.
"We see this area going ahead in leaps and bounds as an entertainment precinct," he said.
"So on the ground floor we're going to continue that theme with entertainment on that level and probably offices on the next level and probably residential above.
"We wanted to keep the same feel as the other buildings on the first two floors but on the next two levels, being residential, it needed to be different to attract the right person.
"We've designed the building, now we have to get council approval and then we'll have to lease it and then find an investor because we haven't got the resources to develop it at the moment.
"We're open to all sorts of offers. We just want to see something happen because Ipswich is going ahead."
He agreed it would be beneficial to the project if that section of the street was changed to a more low-speed traffic boulevard-style zone.
"That would make a big difference. You need a whole lot of coffee shops. You need a repeat of Park Rd in Brisbane," he said.
Mr Birchall said the Top of Town building was one of four similar projects in Ipswich he had on the drawing board.
"We've got a place down at South Station Rd on the corner of Railway Terrace, that big old place, which we've done a design up for a similar thing," he said.
"We reckon South Station Road could be a Park Road, because you've got the train station at one end, you've got Woolies at the other end - virtually - and people walk up and down there all the time.
"Then we've got a shopping centre and another building in Mill St, Goodna.
"There're all different designs but similar uses."
The Top of Town building is being marketed by PRD Nationwide agent Helene Shephard, who is very enthusiastic about it.
"I think Graham's vision is putting Ipswich on the map; taking us from a city of more character homes and traditional homes to something that's more futuristic," she said.
"He's designed quite a few buildings in Brisbane as well and when you see the curves and lines of his showroom, you understand where he's getting all that creativity from."