Rare architectural gems are in our midst and their fascinating stories often pass unnoticed. Tim and Kirsten Baker discovered a few of the Coast’s most intriguing historic buildings.


The Gold Coast is often thought of as a young city without a great deal of history, yet fascinating historic buildings abound on the coast.

For those on the lookout, unexpected discoveries are possible and a little digging reveals some fascinating local stories.

Who knew one of Australia’s most acclaimed modernist architects Harry Seidler designed a prominent Currumbin beach house? Or that Southport’s original old ambulance station is now a thriving, modern, co-working space? As the old saying goes, we shape buildings and then buildings shape us.

Many of these historic buildings have been re-purposed with surprising and delightful results that the original owners, architects and builders could never have imagined.

“Adaptive re-use is really important,” says Philip Follent, former Queensland Government architect and co-chair of the Australian Institute of Architects (Gold Coast and Northern Rivers region).

“The original purpose of most buildings in Queensland of historical significance has changed over time, almost every building is used for another purpose … The public demand is for a quality of outlook or ambience which allows buildings to be rejuvenated.”

Come and discover a few of the Coast’s most intriguing historic buildings and how they’ve been adapted to changing times…


Nearly a century ago when Southport first got its very own ambulance station, its founders could have barely imagined what a co-working space even was.

Today the grand old ambulance station has had a modern facelift and provides bustling office space for a range of local businesses and freelancers, including architects, engineers, ad agencies and accountants.

With more than 1000 square metres of office space, 30 businesses, four meeting rooms, two kitchens and its own café, the Station is now one of two co-working spaces managed by CoSpaces.

Originally built in 1922, the old ambulance station serviced the Gold Coast for more than 50 years and went through a series of renovations in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

The most compelling facelift, though, came in 2002 at the ripe old age of 80, when its new owners, the Howe Family, engaged Burling Brown Architects to restore the exterior to its original grandeur and modernize the interior as office space.

“As part of our commission, we undertook extensive historical research and drew on our experience to recreate the original envelope of the building through historical detailing and building methods,” the Burling Brown website explains.

“At the rear of the building sits a modern addition, which along with the traditional building, houses Co Spaces. This workspace is a flexible, dynamic environment, offering companies (both big and small) the opportunity to rent office space of varying sizes.

“Unique collaboration spaces, meeting rooms and an awarded coffee shop also contributes to the space, creating a flexible and dynamic environment that fosters creativity and embraces the history of the building. 45 Nerang St has become a landmark project in the Gold Coast CBD, having received multiple urban design awards.”

“It is a fantastic example of adaptive re-use,” says Philip Follent.

“There are business and social demands for smaller collaborative work spaces. The ways in which people are working these days, the best results are often through collaboration, allowing for ideas to spark and enrich solutions for whatever you work on.”

Origionally posted on We Are Gold Coast. Read article in full: