A hub for human ingenuity

A Games legacy becomes a new gold medal winner



The three buildings that now house the Cohort Innovation Space started life as recreation rooms for athletes competing at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But a visionary approach to development – which stretches back more than a decade – has transformed the space into a vibrant coworking hub, a launchpad for start-ups and a thriving ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

Sporting events leave a legacy long after the awards and the applause abate. Aware that sometimes this legacy can be long trails of debt and abandoned infrastructure, Economic Development Queensland laid out a vision for the 2018 Commonwealth Games that continues to create value and present fresh perspectives for Australia’s property industry.

At a glance

  • Client
    Economic Development Queensland
  • Services
    Commercial Success
  • sector
    Commercial, Mixed Use
  • Location
    Gold Coast, Australia

Innovation acceleration

What was once a rooftop bar and a restaurant from the GC2018 Commonwealth Games, together with a hair salon, a handful of shops and a police station, is now one of Queensland’s largest and most vibrant innovation centres.

“RLB’s experience with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – which started when the Games was just an idea and spans everything from initial concepts through to legacy works – made us a clear choice for Cohort,” says RLB Director responsible for the project, Jim Krebs.

RLB came armed with deep experience delivering commercial and lab projects across Queensland, and today Cohort is a dynamic and adaptable workplace, with warm and inviting spaces, multiple meeting rooms, collaborative zones and laboratories.

Cohort is a small project, but the momentum it has created for the Gold Coast’s Health and Knowledge Precinct is far greater than its size. Cohort has played an important role in diversifying the Gold Coast economy and building its reputation as a centre for innovation.
Jim Krebs, Director, RLB

What makes Cohort truly special is its location within the $5.9 billion, 200-hectare Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct. Cohort opened in May 2019 with two major anchor tenants – the Gold Coast University Hospital’s Centre for Digital HealthCare and Griffith University’s Griffith Innovation Centre. Close to researchers, the Gold Coast University Hospital and the light rail, Cohort has become a natural choice for businesses in medical, science and advanced manufacturing, and has since expanded twice to accommodate 160 digital health professionals and start-up innovators.

A creative cohort

A design collaboration between Space Cubed Design Studio and ArkLAB, and constructed by Quadric, Cohort delivers a 2,500 sqm space that promotes collaboration and interaction. An integrated design approach delivered private offices, coworking desks, bespoke tenancies, meeting rooms, event space, labs, a kitchen, end-of-trip facilities, podcast studio and a boardroom.

Cohort’s top floor, a bar during the Games, is now an artificial intelligence laboratory.

  • 3
    across 2,500 sqm of nett lettable area
  • $
    Gold Coast Health & Knowledge Precinct is on the doorstep
  • 160
    digital health and start-up innovators

From little things big things grow

Cohort has continued to adapt and evolve since it was a series of sketches on a drawing board and a carefully costed work schedule. But this evolutionary process is not without its challenges. “We continue to manage the expansion of Cohort in a series of ‘bite-sized’ projects which support its growth while also minimising disruption to tenants. The secret is to expand while maintaining the creative and collaborative atmosphere that have attracted people to Cohort,” Jim adds.

Winning formula

Cohort has garnered a swag of awards, including Australia’s top property honour for government leadership at the 2021 Property Council of Australia / Rider Levett Bucknall Innovation & Excellence Awards. Cohort was also crowned the Property Council of Australia / Rider Levett Bucknall Queensland State Development of the Year in 2021. Presenting the award, Property Council Queensland executive director Jen Williams hailed Cohort’s “design, intent and operational success” which “sets a high standard for coworking precincts in Australia”.