The ‘Queenslander’ home design
Table of Contents
The ‘Queenslander’ home design
Dwellings of “deceptive simplicity”
Urban breathability is helping Brisbane nudge Melbourne as the country’s most liveable city
The ‘sublime’ Queenslander
What makes the Queenslander so distinctive?
Windows and doors
Development of the Queensland house
Private and Utilitarian Spaces
Evolution of the Queensland house
Queen Anne Type
Porch & Gable –
Edwardian or Arts & Craft style
Evolution of the Queensland house
Postwar – 1980s
The traditional Queenslander house
Five quintessentially Queensland homes
|Basic Queenslander, largely symmetrical|
- Queenslander Tropical styles
- Ashgrove Queenslander Style
- Queenslanders, Colonial and Federation
- Queensland Federation Heritage Sites
Aaron Peters and Stuart Vokes excel. They are champions of “the forgiving and adaptable” and “modest” wooden houses that, as Peters acknowledges, are unique to Brisbane.
- “When we work with these buildings, we want to celebrate them and not turn them into something they are not.”
- With such large sections of period Brisbane protected since the mid 1990s by heritage overlays that preclude houses built before 1947 being too bastardised or bulldozed, or even having non-porous or tall fencing put around them, the city has preserved both the houses and the qualities of lush, open suburban neighbourhoods.
|Australian House of the Year in Brisbane’s hilly Auchenflower|
“As we saw it, there are two ways to approach the Queenslander: you ignore them and import aspirational ideas, or, you remain conscious that they are unique as the way to preserve them into the future”.
- Auchenflower House (above) is airy, crisply tailored in black and white with touches of pale teal decking paint, and, as Vokes explains, replete with traditional motifs.
- And once you have the decoder, you can read it like a book.
- Much of the cohesion is in the seamless theme of painted timber, he says. “Queenslanders have a language driven by the carpenter.
- Walls are single skins of v-joint timber with expressed framing. And those expressions of the fabric are so much a part of these buildings.”
- Plus, he adds, although very budget savvy, “there is a dignity to painted timber.
- “They’re always about the language of painted timber. It’s the furniture that is left natural.”
As Peters says, “to cherish and add to the character of these period weatherboards while also making them contemporary”, the architect partners have studied the traditional motifs and the language of the houses.
- “We talk about it all the time. We give lectures about them. We’re constantly finding new little oddities about them,” Peters says.
- It’s meant as a compliment that you could walk past the newly gonged Australian House of the Year and think nothing of it.
- Read more…
|The classic Queenslander|
The Queenslander house is a classic piece of Australian architectural design. With its distinctive timber and corrugated iron appearance, it breaks the monotony of the bland, master-planned display villages on the peripheries of our cities.
- It’s also a great example of “vernacular architecture”, best described as a traditional or indigenous type of architecture, one that has evolved over time in response to local climatic, environmental, building resources and cultural human needs.
In Queensland, timber and iron vernacular houses emerged in the mid-19th century as a response by European migrants to the new subtropical climate.
- Wide verandas provided relief from the lengthy, hot summer days, punctuated by heavy afternoon downpours of rain.
- John Freeland, a former professor of architecture at UNSW describes the Queenslander as: “the closest Australia ever came to producing an indigenous style.”
The classic Queenslander is typically a single detached house made of timber and iron, and located on a separate block of land.
- The floor plan consists of four or six rooms, which branch off a centrally located corridor, and which are adorned by external shading verandas.
- Queenslanders are ideally located on the peaks of hills, which allow for both views and cooling ventilation.
- They are purposefully designed at a human scale and to provide a sense of place in the Queensland context.
Verandah and roof
British colonial traditions previously developed in India and elsewhere influenced the adoption of extensive deep shading external verandahs on two, three or four sides of the typical Queenslander.
- These protected spaces provide a refuge from Queensland’s extreme summer sun and rain deluges, while also functioning as clever breeze scoops to direct cooling natural ventilation through the house.
- The verandah provides a unique multi-purpose space, which is neither indoors nor outdoors.
- Often used as an extension of the indoor living space, verandahs have also been adapted to act as sleep-out areas, or protected areas to hang the laundry.
- The wrapping of the house in verandahs encourages the house to face outwards, rather than the inward-facing design approach of houses more appropriately situated in cooler climates.
- Steeply pitched corrugated iron roofs are lightweight, durable and fire-resistant, and allow for high cooling ceilings below.
|A high-set Victorian era Queenslander with large veranda in New Farm, Brisbane. Wikimedia Commons|
Double hung windows and doors typically open to outside verandahs, and line up internally. Generally left open in summer, with the assistance of the flanking verandah breeze scoops, they encourage cooling breezes into the house and move the hot humid air of the interior spaces out.
- Movement of air through the house not only provides a welcoming cooling relief, but it also serves as a necessary protection against interior mould growth, which is synonymous with a humid climate.
Facades without verandahs typically have limited roof overhangs. On these facades, timber and sheet metal window hoods with perforated decorative side fins provide shading and divert rain, all the while releasing trapped rising hot air, thus helping to further cool the inside of the house.
- The Queenslander “touches the earth lightly”. The light timber-framed structure is elevated above ground on stumps, which allows it to be placed on a variable terrain; from the hilly areas in South East Queensland, through to the wetter earth in the more northern Tropics.
|A single-storey Queenslander ca. 1935. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Wikimedia Commons|
There are a number of advantages to this approach.
- In addition to merely allowing a flat floor to be built on a sloping site with minimal ground excavation.
- Raising the house allows high level prevailing breezes to be captured inside, and ventilation or a cool pool of air beneath the floor, helps to cool it from below. It also provides the timber with protection from white ants.
Their light timber frames and corrugated iron materials make Queenslanders simple to modify and adapt to the changing needs of the occupants. They can be raised or simply transported to another site on the back of a truck. Surely recycling a house is the ultimate sustainable design solution?
Unique decorative features on the Queenslander are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional.
- These include cast iron or timber balustrades, gables and column brackets, and timber screens, louvres, fretwork and battens.
- Battened screening and coloured glass provides privacy for occupants, while simultaneously directing breeze movement and/or reducing solar radiation.
|Photo: Sami Keinanen|
This page is largely extracted from the Queensland Museum:
The Queenslander, that odd and ungainly looking house, is unique to Queensland.
- First created in the 1850’s, this wooden house on stumps was surrounded by verandahs and lattice, had straight through halls and corridors, and was capped by a pyramid shaped red tin roof.
- It created a unique lifestyle and helped shape the Queensland character.
- The outdoor, leisurely way of life in sub tropical Australia, was moulded by this home with its wide verandahs, huge area underneath and yard out the back providing the perfect place for Queensland kids to play.
Key factors in the development of the Queensland house were the:
- availability of affordable, easy to use building materials;
- the Queensland climate
- Timber and iron are the characteristic materials used to construct Queensland houses.
- Sawmilling was established in Queensland in the 1850s, and timber became readily available for construction. Iron could be transported long distances throughout the Queensland colony, and was more durable in tropical storms than tiles.
- These readily available and affordable materials were also easy to use and so contributed to the popularity of the Queensland house.
- The materials also directly affected their form. Timber was a light, inexpensive material, but it was vulnerable to attack from termites. Houses were constructed on stumps to raise them off the ground, and the stumps were capped with plates to prevent white ants from getting to the
Basic Queenslander, largely symmetrical
wooden superstructures. The greater height also allowed easier surveillance of termite activity.
- The warm Queensland climate further contributed to the form and popularity of Queenslanders. The high heat conductivity of tin iron roofing and the poor insulation offered by timber meant that ventilation was critical.
- Queensland houses were usually constructed to face the street, irrespective of the direction of sun and wind. Houses belonging to affluent members of society were more likely to be situated in higher locations and constructed with more windows to take greater advantage of prevailing breezes.
- Nevertheless the raised structures provided natural ventilation beneath and around the house, and airflow was enhanced by numerous windows, louvers and fretwork fanlights. Verandahs proved popular in providing additional living space that was outdoors yet protected.
|The Ascot Queenslander design a Federation Queenslander Big, bold and beautifully ornate, 1901 – 1914|
- The raising of houses on stumps created valuable space beneath the house that was used for many varied purposes including drying the washing, accommodating animals and even housing an extended family.
- The retreat from hot internal rooms to the verandah further reflects a less formal Queensland domestic lifestyle. A comfortable verandah allowed residents to spurn formal living rooms and upholstered chairs that enveloped hot bodies. However, in the postwar years, the verandah was enclosed to create more room.
- By the 1890s, Queensland houses exhibited many of the features of Victorian domestic ideals.
- The drawing room was the most important room, where visitors gained an impression of the standing of the owner. During the 1880s, drawing rooms became more decorative and splendid.
- By contrast, the desired impression in the dining room was of formal dignity and even grandeur. This was the domain of the husband as host and man of the house.
|Drawing room suites from a Furniture Catalogue|
- The main bedroom was a private, predominantly feminine space, decorated in delicate pastels, with an emphasis on comfort and prettiness.
- Service rooms, on the other hand, were severely practical in their presentation.
- The kitchen was usually a simple undecorated room, while the bathroom was often no more than a built-in corner of the back verandah or beneath the house.
- The furnishings of the main rooms of Queenslander houses changed with the transition from the Colonial/Victorian era to Federation.
- Red cedar disappeared from fashion – just in time to save it from extinction – to be replaced by silky oak, Queensland maple, white cedar and stained pine. The timbers were often fumed with ammonia to enrich their colour to a warm brown.
- The new fully-upholstered lounging armchair made its appearance. In the bedroom, the dressing table was a chest of drawers with a mirror attached, and a box ottoman replaced the old trunk for clothes storage.
- There was a real acknowledgment of our climate in the design and use of furniture. Cane, willow, bamboo and linen grass furniture entered the scene.
Queensland has more than one type of housing but a tradition of timber building is dominant.
|A decorative Queenslander built around 1890|
- This distinctive tradition originated with rough timber huts of early settlement and developed into the multi-gabled bungalows of the 1930s.
- Buildings continued until, and were adapted after, the Second World War, leading to contemporary ‘Environmentally Sustainable Timber Houses’.
The most typical early twentieth century Queensland house is characterised by:
- timber construction with corrugated-iron roof;
- highset on timber stumps;
- single-skin cladding for partitions and sometimes external walls;
- verandahs front and/or back, and sometimes the sides;
- decorative features to screen the sun or ventilate the interior; and
- a garden setting with a picket fence, palm trees and tropical fruit trees.
‘Queenslanders’ are now valued as a key element of Queensland heritage
- Conservation and renovation of Queenslanders is widespread.
- Our forebears were very practical people and when they first settled in Queensland they came upon flood, white ants, snakes and heat. And they also found plenty of timber. The house that was created in answer to these problems was the Queenslander, which is an amazingly a practical house.
- Set high on wooden stumps, the house was safe from all but the highest floods. The blackened tar coated wooden stumps also kept the white ants at bay and being so high off the ground meant those unwelcome visitors from nature – snakes, fleas, ticks and leeches, could be kept at arms length.
But it was in keeping Queenslanders cool during the intense heat of summer that the house excelled.
- The huge shaded ground underneath the Queenslander, coupled with the wide verandahs, straight through halls and five metre high ceilings meant the slightest breeze gave maximum relief from the heat- But of course this air-conditioning effect continued on into winter. Well you can’t have everything! And when those bitterly cold westerlies blew, pushing blasts of cold air through the cracks in the tongue and groove panelling and the floorboards, the family huddled together around the kitchen stove. Of course this provided the opportunity of hearing that choice piece of irony, as the Canadian or English visitor, while shivering in the kitchen, complained bitterly that they had never been so cold.
- Shares many traits with architecture in other states of Australia but is distinct and unique.
- The type developed in the 1840s and is still constructed today, displaying an evolution of local style.
- The term is primarily applied to residential construction
The Queenslander, a “type” not a “style”, is defined primarily by architectural characteristics of climate-consideration.
- They have been constructed in the popular styles of the time including, but not limited to colonial, Victorian, Federation, Arts and Crafts/Art Nouveau, Interwar styles, and Post-WWII styles.
- The Queenslander is popularly thought of as an “old” house although Queenslanders are constructed today using modern styles as well as “reproductions” of previous styles.- from Wikipedia
A high-set Victorian era Queenslander with large verandahin New Farm, Brisbane.
A large Federation stylesuburban Queenslanderin New Farm, Brisbane.
An interwar Queenslander in New Farm, Brisbane.
A single-storey Queenslander ca. 1935
There are differing styles of the famous ‘Queenslander’, but all (four federation) styles share distinct construction style, internal spaces, furnishing, and gardens.
These are the four Federation Residential Styles corresponding to the ‘Queenslander’ styles illustrated above and below:
Victorian to Edwardian Periods:
- Federation Filigree (with wrap-around verandahs, symmetrical frontage, and square roof)
- Queen Anne (Victorian Boom period, asymmetrical frontage, verandah roof discontinuous, window awnings)
Edwardian to Inter-War Periods:
- Federation Bungalow style (verandah roof continues roof line forward)
- Arts and Crafts style, with decorative gable(s) over porch(es}, no large verandahs
- Federation Revival post war construction, built high on stumps, large verandah, can be two storied.
|Victorian to Edwardian Periods|
|1870s – 1930s: (Filigree)
|1870s – 1930s (Boom, Queen Anne)
|Edwardian to Inter-War Periods|
|1900s to 1930s (Bungalow)
|1910s – 1930s (Edwardian, Arts & Crafts)
|The above information reprinted from: –
Evolution of the Queensland house
|(Queensland Museum Illustrations)|
Often Australian houses get a bad rap for being either too hot or too cold, but the same cannot be said of the much-loved mighty “Queenslander” architectural style and its efficient use of timber.
- John Freeland, an author and former professor of architecture at UNSW describes the Queenslander as
“the closest Australia has to an indigenous architecture style”.
Here are some of the most quintessential Queenslanders on the market right now – think stilts, wide covered verandahs, aluminium roofs and lace fretworks.
|On the market: 50-56 Gibsonville Street, Tallebudgera Valley|
This Queenslander is such a fine example of the style that it’s been featured in Queensland Home magazine.
- The pale blue timber house sits on 1.5 acres with covered outdoor entertaining areas, a pool and gardens.
- Indoors, as well as five large bedrooms it features a formal dining room, chef’s kitchen with large butler’s pantry and a combined home office plus library.
- On the market for the first time since it was built in 1996, the home at 50-56 Gibsonville Street has a price guide of $1.9 million to $2.1 million.
- See also Ruhamah, Hamilton Qld
|Grand: 23 Killara Avenue, Hamilton QLD|
“Ruhamah” is more accurately described as an estate than a house, with grounds of 4258 square metres.
- The 112-year-old property is comprised of eight separate titles, making it one of the largest properties in Hamilton and Ascot.
- It’s hard to say whether the indoors or the outdoors are more grand, with features including a tennis court, indoor pool room, a billiards room and hallway chandeliers.
- The current owners are selling after 26 happy years in the home.
|Slice of history: 18 Mcilwraith Street, Auchenflower.|
This L-shaped white and navy number at 18 Mcilwraith Street, Auchenflower was once the gatehouse of Queensland premier Sir Thomas McIlwraith.
- The four-bedroom, three-bathroom house sits on 810 square metres in Auchenflower, four kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD.
- With sandstone details and high ceilings, this home has been updated and lovingly cared for by the same owners for almost 30 years.
- See also Buderim House, QLD
|Buderim House: 10 Orme Road, Buderim.|
The heritage-listed “Buderim House” sits on enormous grounds with two pools on Buderim Mountain on the Sunshine Coast.
- The house was built in 1915, then updated by an architect in 2003 and has been put on on the market for $4.5 million.
- The property once hosted the British royal family, when the Duke of Gloucester needed a place to stay during a trip to the state.
|Charming home: 69 Kinnaird Street, Ashgrove QLD|
The exterior of this Brisbane home proves all-white is more than alright.
- Located in Ashgrove, four kilometres from the city’s CBD, the charming home spans two levels and has five bedrooms.
- And it couldn’t accurately be called a Queenslander without high ceilings – these reach three metres.