The Condensery – Somerset Regional Art Gallery

‘Before and after’ images, archival drawings and a brief history of the site are located here: Toogoolawah Condensery Packing Shed

The 1920s packing shed is the only building remaining from the once prosperous Nestle condensed milk factory—an important centre of Toogoolawah’s economic and social life until the factory was destroyed by fire in 1951. The art gallery and workshop opened in December 2015, positioning the building as a catalyst for the ongoing cultural life of the region.

Fundamentally, the design was conceived to preserve the building and its architectural qualities “as found,”—the interior of exposed roofing iron and stained concrete floor and walls, remain largely unchanged. The collapse of the western third of the building due to termite damage provided an opportunity to re-compose this elevation, subverting the symmetry of the gable, and creating a contrast to the eastern entry. The complex palette of pinks, reds and browns produce a vibrant effect, and make the building’s history legible. From afar, the project reinstates the original building form, and is perceived as a simple red shed in the landscape. The design takes advantage of the existing outdoor terraces (remnants of other factory buildings) that broaden the building’s potential for public events and private functions. New concrete elements double as stages, allowing these external spaces to be utilised for performance.

7 Feb – 28 Apr 2019
Micro Histories at the Museum Of Brisbane
Artworks and artefacts are paired with buildings by six Brisbane architectural firms, exploring the relationship between architecture, art, people and place.
Museum of Brisbane website

2016 AIA National Architecture Award: Public Architecture
Queensland Chapter Jury citation: Although this 1920s remnant shed of the former condensed milk factory in Toogoolawah had no legislative heritage protection, its adaptive reuse has been sensitively handled, using established conservation principles. The project’s careful consideration of light and amenity concealed within the outline of the original structure is a triumph.
National Awards jury citation is located here:
Architecture AU – AIA Public Architecture Award Jury Citation

2016 AIA Queensland Architecture Awards: Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture
Jury citation: The Condensery utilises colorbond external sheeting, in subtle textural variations, to retain the original galvanised linings as an interior. A sleeve of new roofing evokes the old form and the tapestry of reds found in the rust. A colour and material palette, inspired by steel, permeates the interiors.

2016 Dulux Colour Awards: Grand Prix (overall winner)
Winner: Commercial Exterior category
Commendation: Commercial Interior – Public Space and Hospitality category
Jury citation: This project was awarded for its exceptionally clever application of a sole colour in varying shades, seamlessly executed to showcase a beautiful continuity both inside and out. Using an array of reds to tempt any palette from deep oxides to reddish pinks, results in incredible beauty against the rural landscape. The Condensery tells a fascinating, layered story, whilst honouring the original architecture and history of the building. The exterior and interior work in complete harmony with each other, using traditional and contemporary colours in an equally brave and restrained manner, achieving perfect balance and a building for future generations to appreciate.

2017 Archdaily Building of the Year finalist
Category: Refurbishment
The Condensery was 1 of 80 projects out of over 3,000 projects worldwide to be shortlisted. It was the sole Australian project to make the list.
Link to the finalists here: 2017 Archdaily BOTY finalists

2018 Stella, P. 2018. ‘The Condensery’.
In Red: Architecture in Monochrome, p.130. London; New York: Phaidon

2016 Norrie, H. 2016. ‘The Condensery: Somerset Regional Art Gallery’.
Architecture Australia, Vol.105 No.2, Mar/Apr 2016: pp.82-89
The online article is located here:
ARCHITECTUREAU – The Condensery: Somerset Regional Art Gallery

2016 Schremmer, J. 2016. ‘Shades of History’.
The Courier Mail, ‘Home’ 09 April 2016: p.06

2016 Usabal, K. 2016. ‘Awards for The Condensery’.
INDULGE online magazine (, 09 May 2016
The article is located here: INDULGE – Awards for The Condensery

2016 Griffiths, A. 2016. ‘PHAB Architects transforms 1920s packing shed into a contemporary art gallery’. Dezeen online magazine (, 15 May 2016
The article is located here: dezeen – PHAB Architects transforms 1920s packing shed into a contemporary art gallery

2016 Daw, M. 2016. ‘Red Coat’.
Steel Profile, Issue.124, September 2016: pp.28-33
Link to downloadable PDF here: STEEL PROFILE – Red Coat

2016 Stead, N. 2016. ‘Hope and aspiration at the National Architecture Awards’.
The Conversation, 07 November 2016.
The online article is located here:
THE CONVERSATION – Hope and aspiration at the National Architecture Awards

‘The Condensery / PHAB Architects’. ArchDaily (, 26 May 2016
The ArchDaily listing is located here: ArchDaily – The Condensery / PHAB Architects

‘Tate Modern – and nine more art galleries in amazing industrial spaces’.
The Telegraph (, 16 June 2016
Website link to the article here:
Tate Modern – and nine more art galleries in amazing industrial spaces

Project Details
Landscape Architect: Landscapology;
Structural, Mechanical, Electrical
and Hydraulic Engineer
Opus International Consultants;
Certifier & Energy Efficiency: CERTIS
Quantity Surveyor: Colin Woodhouse
Location: Toogoolawah, QLD
Completion Date: 2015
Photos: Manson Images