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Philip Follent

Philip Follent (image supplied)
Philip Follent (image supplied)

We love the Gold Coast. Isn’t that obvious?! And we love how it’s made up of local businesses and attractions that draw many a tourist to our very own backyard each and every year. What we love more is how our city constantly evolves. Of which, one element is how it’s shaped by developments and structures that seem to always be happening in our bustling city. So it excites us that we had the opportunity to get to know Philip Follent, who was Gold Coast City Council’s first City Architect and also appointed Queensland Government Architect in his career. Read on to hear more about what he loves the most about the GC and where his career has taken him. (Including being part of the Tom Atkin Hall building redesign.)

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Arrived on the GC, April 27th, 1979.

Tell us a bit about you.
Born in Rockhampton, son of an Air Traffic Controller and moved to Brisbane for most schooling and uni. The Gold Coast beckoned after working in brilliant architectural practices of James Birrell and then Geoffrey Pie. The Gold Coast practice of Davis Heather Group capped great practical training prior to branching out on my own with only a kindergarten playground to design. Lucky breaks with good clients led to about 20 years of practice before a few forks in the road to local and then state government as City then onto State Architect. From here, academia as inaugural Head of School at the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond. Back to practice and (school tuckshop) in 2013 and the rest is a plethora of fulfilling honorary roles with community and cultural organisations like: Swell Sculpture Festival, Gold Coast Open House, Tugun Lights Up, along with environmental and community organisations and advocacy for a better city.

Philip Follent's proposed Tom Atkin's Hall in 2014 (image supplied)
Philip Follent's proposed Tom Atkin's Hall in 2014 (image supplied)

What do you love the most about the Gold Coast?
Currumbin Estuary with its emerging rainforest on the Palm Beach Parklands Spit is a remarkable place of beauty and emerging viable habitat…so rare now in urbanised settings! It is the link from hinterland to ocean. That area would have been lost to development in 1979 were it not for community action.

You have won over 20 architectural awards in your career, but what do you consider your favourite project to date?
My first and last projects exhibit a Japanese aesthetic as does a mid-career favourite project (1999) of the Elephant Rock Café, Currumbin. Every project is special in some way and smaller-scale projects do elicit great relationships with clients…almost like a short-term marriage but ending as good friends. Current favourites are the arrivals and welcome building at an indigenous eco-cultural project in Cairns and now underway the site statement for the Chinese Temple archaeological remnants in Croydon near the Gulf of Carpentaria.

What does a typical day in the life of you look like?
Like being in a pinball machine but in slow motion. I can’t complain, every bounce is interesting and there’s no time to be distracted by trivial issues. Mind you, it is nice to be reminded to breathe.

Tom Atkin Hall render (image supplied)
Tom Atkin Hall render (image supplied)

What does your ‘creative process’ look like?
Do the homework and research VERY thoroughly. Understand the place, people, and the needs. Be quiet with it. Sleep on it. Have a shower when you wake up. The answers come. Our subconscious is our most under-used asset. 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Design inspiration has to be tempered by the knowledge that no matter how original we might think we are or want to be …it has always been done before. Like all designers, I am constantly taking in clues and cues from everything I encounter. This adds to my biases and therefore my approach to design. I find it easiest NOT to set out to design something that will turn heads. Focusing on the project and not on a predetermined, stylistic outcome while remaining faithful to the key tenets one has set up at the outset seems to elicit a result that turns heads anyway.

How did your involvement in the Tom Atkin Hall come about?
Joined the Tugun Progress Association in 2013 with the Tugun Lights Up initiative and saw that the hall needed love and heaps of maintenance if it were to last. Kirsten Baker initiated Saltwater Cinema to broaden the hall’s appeal. I then sketched the façade reno in 2014 which has since evolved into the 40’s/50’s picture theatre design currently being built, and which hopefully will attract a myriad of culturally enriching events.

Architectural photography of the MY Ecotourism Project, East Trinity Inlet, Cairns - Feb 2022 (image courtesy of Andrew Watson)
Architectural photography of the MY Ecotourism Project, East Trinity Inlet, Cairns - Feb 2022 (image courtesy of Andrew Watson)

Why do you think the rejuvenation of the Tom Atkin Hall is so imperative for the community?
The Hall has provided the stage for community advocacy, entertainment, special birthdays, and protests for 55 years. It is a tangible link from the 91-years-old Tugun Progress Association to the community. The hall needs to appear more welcoming but also strengthen its old bones if it and the TPA are to be relevant to the community for the next half century. This is the time to show that if 4 men and an army of volunteers could build the hall in the early 1960’s then surely the community today can at least breathe life into it now. The hall, still only half-finished has already re-established the hall as the people’s place….. a genuine civic and meeting place for (and owned) by the community. Real heritage action is not always about being precious about the building but about preserving its role in the community.

Tell us the best piece of advice someone has ever given you and why you consider it the best?
1. Life is too short to be dealing with turkeys. When you see feathers…head off bush.
2. Everybody just wants to feel they’ve been heard…genuinely heard.
3. Philip, you don’t hate yourself enough to go into politics.
4. Remember to breathe.
The desire for people to feel really listened to is key. It’s a shame that modern-day government interaction with the public and individuals is no longer consultation but “telling” and “informing” …not really listening. This leads unnecessarily to enormous community frustration.

Last house designed by Philip Follent at Paradise Waters (photo courtesy of David Sanders)
Last house designed by Philip Follent at Paradise Waters (photo courtesy of David Sanders)

What are your Gold Coast favourites…?
Café: Hidden Gem, Tugun
Coffee spot: MADE Barber & Barista, Tugun
Restaurant: Yamagen Japanese Restaurant, Surfers Paradise

How do you choose to spend your days off?
Every day is a day off…. but apart from Currumbin Estuary, Kyogle and the bushland of northern NSW is the place of rejuvenation. Nimbin too, partly because my oldest, almost 106-year-old aunt, just passed away there, and maybe ‘cause Nimbin holds 1970’s Aquarius Festival memories…. that’s the region that refreshes.

Iconic Tugun landmark gets a facelift

Work done by the community on Tom Atkin Hall (image supplied)
Work done by the community on Tom Atkin Hall (image supplied)

Whether you’ve lived a little or a long time down the southern end of town, you know Tom Atkin Hall. And for those from other ‘burbs around the Coast, you would have driven past it – perhaps unknowingly – every time you’ve ventured down the Gold Coast Highway at Tugun. A deceptively unassuming building, there is so much more than meets the eye here. 55 years young, the hall has done so much good for the community, undeniably earning its stripes… and a very well-deserved facelift. As passionate advocates of this iconic, community-owned groundbreaker, we’re delighted to tell you why it’s so special and unpack how you can help secure its future.

The crux of the matter is, for this community-owned and funded local treasure to keep up with (the Kardashians….no not really) demand, it needs some TLC. A lot actually – $360k worth. We’re talking functional upgrades such as disabled access and updated facilities, as well as a reinvigorated exterior. Its fresh new look will be reminiscent of a vibrant 50’s art deco cinema which seriously, is there anything cooler?

Tom Atkin Hall render (image supplied)
Tom Atkin Hall render (image supplied)

For this epic upgrade to continue, however, the volunteer-based Tugun Progress Association (TPA) – the Trustee for the hall taking care of general operations and maintenance – is sending out an SOS.

With so much construction yet to take place, they’re in need of precious donations big or small from anyone who can spare a dollar to support. As it’s community-owned, all funding must come from selfless donations, whether they be cash, labour or materials. Without the above, this Tugun trailblazer won’t have a shot at a second life – and we’re reaching for the Kleenex at the prospect.

So just what exactly goes down in this much-loved old-timer that makes it worthy of all the fuss? For starters, it’s long been a place for the locals to discuss important developments and pressing matters that directly affect the community. Regularly facilitating conversations between the public, politicians and the Council, big plans have been hatched, halted and heeded within those sandy brick walls. It has also led a double life as a bit of a playboy (sans the bunnies and the grotto…and Hef), acting as a place of fun, creativity, expression and ‘togetherness’. Always popular for private celebrations, workshops, performances, lunches and fundraisers, there is an ever-growing list of groups utilising the space on a regular basis.

Tom Atkin Hall render (image supplied)
Tom Atkin Hall render (image supplied)

The hall is the only community-owned, not-for-profit hall on the Coast, and a beacon for the rich history of its beloved ‘hood. Rejuvenating the space will not only provide better facilities for the many community groups who use it, but preserve one of the few original structures left standing in our beautiful city.

So friends, if can spare some moolah, contribute a trade or help in any way, this is a great way to give back and help a golden oldie regain its youth, and continue its do-gooder deeds.

Donate Here

Each of the businesses and individuals who contribute toward the project, in-kind or in donations, will be thanked with generous public recognition, both on the job site hoarding and digitally. You will be mentioned on their dedicated social media platforms, which can be shared directly onto your own social media pages.

Where: 433 Golden Four Drive, Tugun

Words by Bianca Trathen.

Aerial of Tugun, Gold Coast, Queensland (image supplied)
Aerial of Tugun, Gold Coast, Queensland (image supplied)

Kelle Howard

Kelle Howard (image supplied)

Summer has well and truly landed on the Gold Coast and while we are still unable to travel internationally to picturesque locations such as the Greek islands and Ibiza, one talented lady has brought her beautiful international interior design and styling to us. Kelle Howard has been an interior designer and stylist since 2012 specialising in her minimalist raw, coastal and luxe style. After an encouraging 2020 where we saw Kelle embark on an epic furniture collaboration with Emma Sweeney and Matt Jamieson of Object X, she is now turning her attention to a busy 2021.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve lived in Burleigh for two years and also four years previously. When I was looking for a place to build Bajo el Sol, I knew there was no other place that I wanted my dream home to be.

What do you love most about living here?
I love the holiday atmosphere, there are so many incredible places to eat and socialise. I’m a typical Pisces and love being by the ocean.

Tell us about your career thus far.
I studied Interior Design in 2012 after the birth of my first child. I worked on projects locally, interstate and overseas and then I took a break for a few years whilst I focussed on being a full-time Mum. I decided to re-launch my business and solely focus on the aesthetic that I am renowned for – which I describe as raw, coastal, luxe. Over the past two years I have shared a lot of my journey on social media and I love the connection and community it brings to my work. I thrive on variety in my creative outlets and last year was so exciting because I had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects such as styling photoshoots, designing a limited edition bespoke furniture collection, magazine features, organised and co-hosted a Manifestation Workshop in Byron Bay and was a guest on several podcasts.

What’s your proudest business moment?
There have been so many highlights and I’m exceptionally proud of the collection I designed in collaboration with local designer furniture brand – Object X. From the very first meeting I knew that we would be able to design some truly unique pieces and I was given complete creative control to design the collection. Object X were an absolute dream to work with and I love every piece we created.

Kelle Howard's collaboration with Object X (image supplied)

Tell us about your home Bajo el Sol Beach House.
Bajo el Sol is my interpretation of my love for European architecture with an Australian influence. I was designing a family home for myself and my two children so it needed to be functional as well as fit my raw, coastal, luxe style. I love to mix tactile elements together such as architectural concrete, render and venetian plaster, aged brass and raw timbers. I wanted to make sure that we used each space equally with no ‘wasted’ rooms. The house has received worldwide attention and it really does showcase my style as a designer. I love minimalism and prefer to let the architecture of a space be the feature rather than decor pieces. We feel so lucky to wake up here every day – having the opportunity to create my own home from my imagination was a dream.

Tell us about your collaboration with Object X.
I worked with Matt and Emma styling a shoot for their first Object X collection at my home which, at the time, was available to hire as a photoshoot location. A few months later we spoke about possibly collaborating on a collection together and we all agreed it was a perfect match. It was important to me that I was able to design pieces with little to no limitations and Object X were on board with trusting me with creative control on the design. I was inspired by natural elements, raw textures and curves and I wanted to create Objects that could work in various spaces. I designed the curvaceous bottoms to sit under table tops with organic, handmade shapes and Matt is a genius that could recreate the ideas that I had and bring them to life. The three of us had so much fun working together — which is paramount to any working relationship I have.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am heavily inspired by Ibizan architecture, raw textures, natural tones and fashion. I love taking elements from commercial spaces and translating them in a way that can function in a residential space also. I like to push the boundaries in terms of what a ’normal’ home should look like.

Any advice for someone wanting to get into interior design?
It may sound counter-productive but try not to pay too much attention to what other designers do. The few designers I do follow are because I am friends with them personally but I choose not to look at what everyone else is doing as I find it curbs my own creativity. Instead find other ways to be inspired and that way you can really hone in on your own vision and aesthetic that will help you stand out.

Bajo El Sol Beach House (image supplied)

What’s in the works for your for 2021?
I would love to design some boutique apartments or a hotel! Working on multiple spaces and making them cohesive but unique is something I am very passionate about. I am currently mentoring two up-and-coming Interior Designers so I would love to continue that this year also. I plan on purchasing an apartment in the next few months and documenting the renovation again and sharing the process on social media the same way I did for Bajo. I am open to any opportunities that come may way which align with my core desired feelings – free, alive, connected.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast: Palm Springs
Coffee spot: Next Door Burleigh
Restaurant for dinner: Light Years
Bar or pub for a drink: Burleigh Pavilion

How does your weekend usually look?
It varies whether I am with my kids or not, and no two weekends are the same. But I usually wake around 6am and enjoy a slow morning at Bajo. I love making time for the Burleigh to North Burleigh Walk before it gets too hot, or we head to Nippers, hang out at Echo Beach, I love to eat out at Bonita Bonita, Hail Mary or Light Years and afternoon drinks at Burleigh Pavilion. If I can squeeze in a massage on James Street at some point, even better!

Karley & Ryan McAlpin

Karley & Ryan of Zero 9 (image supplied)
Karley & Ryan of Zero 9 (image supplied)

Ever walk into a venue and really just ogle the space? Yep, us too. And is it just us or does it seem new venues across the Gold Coast have really stepped up their fit-out game recently? A few venues spring to mind when it comes to ones that deserve a feature on the ‘gram; of which include the new Surfers Pavilion, and the reinvigoration of The Star Gold Coast’s Atrium Bar. Both of which were projects of Brisbane & Gold Coast company, Zero 9 Constructions. We were fortunate enough to get to know the founders of Zero 9, Karley & Ryan McAlpin, to talk all things Commercial & Residential construction and boy do they have some big projects in the pipeline! Watch this space!

How long have you been Gold Coast locals?
Karley: All my life, I was born and bred on the GC. (Except for a few overseas adventures!)
Ryan: All my life. Born and bred in Tweed (I’ll claim that as the Gold Coast) haha

Tell us about how Zero 9 Constructions came about?
Ryan: The burning desire to do what I was doing, but better! Shopfitting had this almost ‘unspoken rule’ that you did big hours, nights, never saw your family, and quality was never valued as the space would get re-fit in 3-7 years… Why? Why can’t quality of finish, and quality of life exist in this sector? This is where we focus our values as a company, on quality, detail and professionalism. We’re not about getting a job done purely to get the job done, our values lie in providing our clients with an experience that is seamless, detailed and exceeds their expectations. That is our passion and where the business started and continues to grow.

Atruim Bar by Zero 9 Constructions (image supplied)
Atruim Bar by Zero 9 Constructions (image supplied)

Can you tell us the meaning behind “Zero 9”?
Ryan: People often assume it is the year we started the company, but there is a bit more of a love story behind it. 2009 was the year Karley and I met, in Canada, on a snow mountain. Even though we both lived on the Gold Coast, it took us both being in Canada, at the right time for us to find each other. When toying with the idea of starting the business, the name just felt so right, a year that was sentimental to us. And with that, this is where the name Zero 9 came about.

What do you love the most about being in the construction industry on the Gold Coast?
Ryan: Being part of such a dynamic, ever-evolving part of the Gold Coast. Having the ability to create new opportunities and be a part of the community growth is really special to us. Not to mention the people we work with and places we work, we’re currently working on the old Pizza Hut site at Kirra and you couldn’t find a more beautiful part of the world (not to mention how sentimental it is with all the birthday parties I had there). It truly is special to be involved in the future of the Gold Coast and shaping it for the generations to come.

Surfers Pavilion by Zero 9 Constructions (image supplied)
Surfers Pavilion by Zero 9 Constructions (image supplied)

What are your areas of expertise?
Ryan: Our brand started in the Commercial Construction industry with the development of restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, gyms, office spaces; practically we bring any space to life. Finding recent demand for our level of quality and detail in the Residential industry, the Zero 9 team has expanded into architectural home builds, renovations and extensions. Our team work collectively through the design and construction of these spaces to add value to our clients lives.

Whilst it may be hard to pick, have you got a particular favourite project of Zero 9 Constructions?
Ryan: Tough one… If I had to narrow it down to two, I would say Surfers Pavilion and Burleigh Brewing HQ. Both absolute monster projects with unique challenges and great clients!

What can we expect from Zero 9 Constructions in the next 12 months?
Ryan: Massive things!! Epic rooftop spaces, iconic GC venues, and some of the most beautiful homes the GC and Northern NSW has ever seen.

Burleigh Brewing (image supplied)
Burleigh Brewing (image supplied)

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: Here Coffee at Zero 9’s Burleigh HQ (obviously), but also VERY hard to go past Tarte in Burleigh.
Coffee spot: Here Coffee at Zero 9’s Burleigh HQ (obviously)
Restaurant: Lucky Bao in Mermaid. Absolute pocket-rocket of a place that is our absolute go to!
Bar or pub for a drink: As we have four young kids, our drinking is usually done at home with a Burleigh Brewing Big Head, or a pack of Hard Fizz. If we are lucky enough to have a night off, it’s hard to beat Burleigh Pavilion for the location and atmosphere.

How do you choose to spend your weekends? 
Ryan: As mentioned above, four young ones keep us VERY occupied. (Thank goodness for the backyard pool, incredible Gold Coast weather, as well as family and friends close by!). During the glimmers of silence, you will normally find us in front of a laptop or Netflix. Basically just sitting in silence…

Where: 1/14 Rothcote Court, Burleigh Heads
Phone: 0481 279 984


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