The style of homes known as ‘Queenslanders’ are distinct and unique, and flooding, monsoonal rains, and the states’s hot northern summers have all influenced the design of this iconic architecture. The open friendliness of these houses reflect a lifestyle that is a unique expression of the way people have adapted themselves to an environment vastly different from historic European experiences.
The traditions of a ‘Queenslander home’ originated with the rough timber huts of the state’s settlement. During the 1930s, they developed into multi-gabled bungalows, and after the Second World War, took on other contemporary forms and became known as ‘Environmentally Sustainable Timber Houses’.
Queenslanders are a great example of ‘vernacular architecture’, which is best described as an indigenous or traditional type of architecture that has evolved over time. It was reflective of a practical design and functional response by European migrants to their new subtropical climate in the mid-19th century.
The classic Queenslander is primarily defined by architecture that revolves around climate consideration. There are many types of Queenslanders, but they all share distinct characteristics, including:
The typical floorplan generally comprises four or six rooms, which branch off a centrally located corridor. Cross-ventilation is encouraged by the alignment of windows and doors to allow for an uninterrupted air flow, and other common features include high ceilings and wooden floors.
Veranda and roof
British colonial traditions had some influence on the adoption of extensive deep shading external verandas, which provide a refuge from the state’s rain deluges and extreme summer sun. They provide a unique multi-purpose space, often wrap around the house, and function as ‘breeze scoops’ to direct cooling natural ventilation throughout the house.
Roofs are a large and visible external presence and traditionally steeply pitched. They are constructed of various materials including tiles and slate, but most often sheeted with corrugated iron, which is durable, lightweight, fire-resistant, and allows for high cooling ceilings below.
Windows and doors
Double hung doors and windows typically open to outside verandas, and line up internally. They encourage cooling breezes and a movement of air through the house, and also serve as protection against the interior mould growth synonymous with a humid climates.
Queenslander facades without verandas typically have limited roof overhangs. Instead, timber and sheet metal window hoods divert rain, provide shading, and release trapped rising hot air to further cool the inside of these homes.
Iconic Queenslanders have timber-framed structures that are elevated above the ground on stumps. A raised house allows high-level breezes to be captured inside, and a cool pool of air to be trapped beneath the floor to help cool it from below. They also offer protection from termites and other pests, and allow for the natural flow of water in the event of excessive rain.
The space below the floor is often high enough for a garage, storage or as an extra living area. Being constructed on stumps also means Queenslanders are highly adaptable in terms of lowering, raising or reorientation.
The unique decorative features of a Queenslander are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. They include gables and column brackets, timber or cast iron balustrades, and louvres, timber screens, battens and fretwork.
Owning a Queenslander
Much of the modern Australian architecture these days has developed in the name of ‘progress’. As such, many prospective homeowners simply select a house and land package in order to indulge in the great Australian dream. However, with recent concerns about high-energy consumption, many architects are once again embracing the importance of sustainable, energy-efficient designs.
For those of us living in the tropical or sub-tropical regions of Queensland, it has meant a return to a re-interpretation of the architectural traditions of Queenslander home styles, as their design can be easily modified to suit our contemporary lifestyles.
The most common method for securing your own piece of Queensland history is by renovating an existing Queenslander. This involves building underneath the home by raising the upper level, and leaving the original features at the top. Another common renovation option is to refurbish internally and infill the verandah to increase the enclosed space.
The government’s HomeBuilder grant is currently providing eligible applicants with $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home, which could mean your dream of owing an iconic Queenslander is realised sooner!
The most important point to remember though is that in some areas of Queensland there are strict heritage restrictions guiding renovations to modern Queenslander style homes. Which is why engaging the services of a professional builder in Brisbane is a wise choice!
Keen to have an iconic Queenslander restored to its former beauty by a quality builder in Brisbane? As a family-owned business with over 25 years’ experience, building is in our blood. Contact us or phone (07) 3050 5652.