Brisbane has a rich architectural history that is often under-appreciated even by local residents. The commandant of early Brisbane’s Redcliffe settlement built Brisbane’s first residence in 1824. Sadly, this house is no longer standing, but outstanding examples of Brisbane architectural styles from the mid-nineteenth century onwards remain. These give us a timeline of the evolution of Brisbane architecture and a better understanding of the reasons why Queensland developed its unique architectural heritage.

Newstead House, built in 1846, has the distinction of being the oldest house in Brisbane, followed closely by Bulimba House (1850) and what’s now called the Deanery, which was constructed in 1855. The Deanery was built for Dr. Hobbs out of local porphyry stone by stone-mason Andrew Petrie. Its wide timber verandahs were a hint of what was to become known as the “Queenslander” style. More modest examples of late Colonial Brisbane architecture can also be found in Petrie Terrace and Spring Hill.

Newstead House

The greatest number of 19th century Brisbane houses date from the last two decades of the century. This was when what came to be known as the Federation style was in vogue. Even these had a distinctly “Brisbane” touch to them. From modest workers bungalows to grander homes, a covered porch or verandah to provide a shaded outdoor living space was a must.

The importance of the verandah in early Brisbane architecture cannot be over-emphasised. It was not just a place for relaxing during the heat of the day, but an actual living space, often including a dining table and chairs, day beds and comfortable lounge chairs. Day and night, the verandah provided respite from the heat and an opportunity to enjoy outdoor living at home.

The early 20th century saw a borrowing of then modern architectural styles emerge. The California bungalow style and Art Deco styles were in vogue — with modifications to suit Brisbane’s climate. While many California bungalow style“knock-offs” were built with stucco facades, many other timber “California” style bungalows were elevated and had higher ceilings than their counterparts overseas. These were often made from timber, which was not only a cheap building material, but a better choice for the Brisbane climate. 

The post-war “baby boom” years saw the arrival of what many architectural historians dub the “Austerity” housing style. These are the ubiquitous single brick or brick veneer homes that can be seen throughout suburban Australia.

Today, “sustainable architecture” is the latest trend in building and renovating. Not surprisingly, sustainable architecture includes many of the elements of the Queenslander bungalow style. Wide covered verandahs and/or patios are in vogue, as are more energy-efficient timber windows and doors. A significant change has been in home interiors, which are designed to maximise cross-ventilation and create less of a barrier between the interior of the home and the outdoors.

The trend towards sustainable architecture is a big part of the reason for the popularity of Allkind Joinery Brisbane’s Renovators Range of timber windows and doors. Timber bifold doors, for example, allow you to truly bring the outdoors in, while timber hopper windows are ideal for cross ventilation.

Why timber windows and doors instead of more “modern” materials? It’s because timber is both the sustainable choice and the most energy-efficient choice of building materials. The fact that timber windows and doors made by master cabinet makers from quality timbers are perennially stylish is just a bonus. For more information about the Renovators Range of timber windows and doors, contact Allkind Joinery and be part of the new wave of Brisbane architectural styles.

Sources for this article:

Recognising housing styles, Brisbane City Council

A History by Design: Home, Brisbane Style, University of Queensland

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