Thomas Dixon Centre, Refurbishing the Home of the Queensland Ballet

Queensland Ballet continues to take centre stage as a vibrant and compelling contributor to Australia’s cultural landscape, and is an integral part of the national and international ballet scene. The company’s exponential growth in the number of enablers, creatives, company dancers and community engagement activities placed pressure on the former facilities at the state heritage listed Thomas Dixon Centre, West End. To safeguard sustained growth, Queensland Ballet and the Queensland Government are engaging Conrad Gargett to revitalise their headquarters and home for their artists, arts workers and the broader community.


“Originally conceived of as a small extension, but over time it became clear that we needed to dream bigger to capture the ambitions of the company in this project. After considering other sites, it was eventually determined that the Thomas Dixon Centre is their true Home and we needed to fully utilise this site to realise their ambition for a world class facility.

— Tamarind Taylor, Associate, Thomas Dixon Centre Project Architect





Through a series of workshop sessions with the Queensland Ballet team, we came to understand the values not only of the company, but also of the individuals. The commonalities, differences, processes and opportunities, together we worked towards a design that would in turn encompass the many voices and activities of the ballet.

There is great complexity and a lengthy program of events that come together to create a Queensland Ballet performance, and we believed this redevelopment presented the opportunity to not just architecturally support their activities but to share this fascinating process with the public. Through the workshop series and analysis of Queensland Ballet’s visionary development strategy, we collectively arrived at an architectural response that is underpinned by four pillars; art, people, home and wellness.


The Ballet is a culmination of a number of artists; dancers, choreographers, stage writers, composers and musicians as well as the wardrobe and costume designers, production designers, teachers and educators, and the enablers. The aspiration is to go beyond the core business and artforms. To build connections with traditional and digital artists, sculptors and installation artists, and to increase connections with the community through dance classes, education and providing support to other performance groups with the development of a small to mid-scale performance theatre. Collaborations with Judy Watson, Jamie North and artwork from TeamLab are just some of the exciting features of the new venue.


The vision accommodates a larger ensemble of dancers, expanded training programs and enhanced community initiatives to deliver world-class productions. The redevelopment seeks to enrich people’s lives through ballet, to build connections not only with their current audience, but importantly, to inspire future generations of dancers, artists, technicians, dance/ sports medicine specialists and more, with a new level of accessibility to all aspects of the performances.


The architectural design seeks to invite the community into the Home of the Queensland Ballet by offering glimpses behind the curtain. There are opportunities for visitors to observe the activities and the creative process in the wardrobe and production workshop, or sneak-a-peek into the Company’s hero studio as rehearsals take place, or watch the production crew in action as they prepare the stage, scenery and lighting effects from above a tension net.


The Thomas Dixon Centre became the Home of the Queensland Ballet in 1991. Prior to this the centre was originally The Thomas Dixon Boot Factory completed in 1908, operated as a multi-generational family business from 1878 until 1980.
In considering a number of sites very early on for development, we all kept returning to the Thomas Dixon Centre. Described by the client as an ‘Old Queen,’ there is a great deal of character to this heritage place. Queensland Ballet wanted to be a part of the buildings story and preserve it into the future.

“But Home is more than just the physical place, it is the people that reside there and the community that it is part of. As part of Queensland Ballet’s identity, it is also about the creation of an open and caring environment, where the health and wellbeing of the Company is central.”

— Tamarind Taylor, Associate, Thomas Dixon Centre Project Architect


Wellness underscores the project at each design decision, not only for the benefit of the dancers, but for the entire Queensland Ballet team and visiting community. This project follows the International Well Building Standards (Well), which influences the experience and quality of the built environment; air, lighting, acoustics, food and beverage, exercise, community engagement, gardens, and more. All contributors, stakeholders, designers and builders carry responsibility for the Well accreditation making it far more of a collaborative and integrated process than other sustainability and environmental certification such as NABERS and Green Star.




It has been an absolute privilege to work alongside the Queensland Ballet, Queensland Government, the consulting team and contractors, on what is a very complex brief on a challenging site. We are counting down the days on what has been an incredible journey, to see the project open its doors and raise the curtains for all to experience and enjoy. We hope to see you there.