House Styles in Brisbane
The quintessential Queenslander is of all timber construction with a corrugated iron roof. They are all high set single storey dwellings with a characteristic veranda that extends around the house to varying extents but never entirely surrounds it. In later years, many have been renovated to enclose part or all of these verandahs to create extra bedrooms. The under house area is often also enclosed to provide extra living area to these houses, which leads to the common misconception of an authentic Queensland with two storeys.
The term has evolved to apply to many different types of structure found in suburban Queensland. The many and varied styles all share similar features such as prominent exterior staircases, gabled roofs and the defining trait of being built on stumps, raising the structure from the traditional 2.8 metres and varying in height depending on terrain. They are typically "tripartite" in sectional composition; underfloor (stumps), primary rooms (can be two levels), and roof. All have one or more veranda spaces, a sheltered edge of the building that is typically only part-enclosed and used as another living zone. This consideration for climate is the defining characteristic of the Queenslander type. The raising of the main living spaces off the ground can be seen as both a stylistic and practical device. The vertical "stumps", initially of timber, allow the building to "float" above the terrain.
Queenslanders all have this underfloor area that is used to cool the building through ventilation and also for protection of the main structure from termite attack and other pests. The stumps also help to overcome any variations in the terrain that would normally require earthworks to flatten for construction and allow for the natural flow of water. The underfloor space is often high enough for additional uses such as storage, carport or even as extra living area in the cool, dark spaces beneath the building. The underfloor area was sometimes decoratively screened at the perimeter with timber battens. Another advantage of being constructed on stumps is that the buildings are highly adaptive. It is relatively easy to raise, lower, reorient or completely relocate Queenslanders. The main living areas of the house, being raised from the terrain, are a series of rooms on a platform floor. Traditionally, planning and fenestration encouraged cross-ventilation for passive cooling in a variety of innovative methods including fanlights, ceiling roses, and alignment of doors and windows to allow uninterrupted air flow. The verandah is the most typical inclusion in the plan and can be used day and night as a semi-external living space. In Brisbane, many people have tables and chairs for dining and a daybed or 'sleepout' on their verandah. Whirly birds placed on roofs allow for hot air to be drawn out of ceiling spaces.
The roof is a large and visible presence externally and was traditionally steeply pitched. They are of varied materials including slate and tiles but are most characteristically sheeted with corrugated iron. The iron roofs could withstand torrential rains and be re-used if damaged by cyclonic winds. Typically, the Queenslander is suited to the sub-tropical climate of Queensland of high rainfall and mild to hot, humid climate with average summer temperatures in the range of 23–36 degrees Celsius. However, the type is found across the state in colder and hotter locations usually with adaptations to suit. The first house in the Brisbane region was built in 1824 for the commandant of the Redcliffe settlement. This house and many other early timber buildings have long since gone. Newstead House, just a few kilometres north of the CBD, Brisbane’s oldest surviving residence. Newstead House dates from 1846. Originally built for Patrick Leslie, over the years it has evolved from a simple colonial Georgian cottage into a sprawling homestead with intricate balustrade, spacious verandahs and a vista that incorporates the Brisbane River, undulating parkland, elements of the Breakfast Creek Heritage Precinct. Houses epitomising the Federation-era include those constructed in masonry as well as larger decorative timber homes. The interwar building boom saw the construction of the porch-and-gable and multi-gable bungalows that characterise much of Brisbane’s timber-and-tin housing, particularly in suburbs such as Ashgrove. Many houses from this era were built through the Queensland Government Workers’ Dwelling Scheme.
To a lesser extent, the 1920s and 1930s also gave rise to more derivative domestic architecture - Californian bungalows as well as Spanish Mission, Old English, Functionalist and Art Deco style houses and flats. These houses were often constructed in masonry. Brisbane grew rapidly in the late 1940s and 1950s as a result of the immigration and the baby boom. Many of the post-war austerity houses were built of fibro sheeting. Overseas contractors also began to mass-produce houses the Dutch and the French to cater for the chronic housing shortage after the war. From the 1960s, brick-veneer project houses, built on concrete slabs, were built as well as examples of International-style housing. Some houses combine a number of different design elements which do not fit into a specific style. Most styles stretch for at least a decade before and after their era of popularity, and some are revived later. This is the case with Queensland’s traditional timber-and-tin housing. A great deal of the 19th and early 20th Century homes were built on large plots of land. Zoning changes have allowed these blocks to be split. There is now small lot developments in the inner city areas of Brisbane.
There are many people migrating to Brisbane and the Council has had to make some zoning changes to cater for the influx. Many High Rise Residential Towers can be found in the Brisbane CBD. With zoning changes, over the past years, there are now hub centres throughout Brisbane with high rise residential blocks, 5 to 10 storeys, on average.