At PlaceMate Architects, we love Queenslanders. They are our specialty! We’ve designed renovations to over 400 of these historic timber homes originally built from 1900 to World War Two. Found all over Brisbane, Queenslanders are defined by the Brisbane City Council as a “Character House” in a “Demolition Control Precinct”. Most Queenslanders started life above the ground, raised on stumps with tin roofs, front verandahs, timber floors, weatherboard walls and timber-framed windows. But charming as they are, original Queenslanders aren’t always compatible with indoor-outdoor living or modern family lifestyles. The intentions of family homes now are different to when Queenslanders were originally designed. As a result, Queenslanders will often undergo renovation to to better suit modern lifestyles.
So, what do the professionals think? We decided to ask our architects their thoughts on classical Queenslanders: why they loved them, what they aren’t fond of, and what they would do if they designed one from scratch.
Jan, our senior architect, adores the historical nature of Queenslanders.
What does Jan love about Queenslanders?
She loves that they have lasted 100 years and will continue to be a gorgeous part of Queensland’s history. The architecture represents a strong sense of place and history. She views these houses as if they have lived a life. If a Queenslander could talk imagine the stories they would tell.
What would Jan change about Queenslanders?
Jan recognises the flaws of the classically designed Queenslander. These historic buildings were not designed to be connected to the land. The raised building separates the home from the environment, abolishing what this generation of people crave – a connection to the outside. For more information on this, check out this blog.
Not only does Jan recognise the need for renovation to connect separated Queenslanders to the environment in which they were built, but also sees flaws in previous renovations. Jan values renovations that echo the original architecture of the building.
If Jan were to build a Queenslander from the ground up, how would she design it?
Keep the pitched roofs, timber and pretty details. Jan would design the building with heaps more storage, as Queenslanders are known to not have enough in-built storage. As Jan highly values the strong connection to the environment in which a building is built, she would integrate the outdoor and indoor living areas. A perfect example of this is the home we designed in Mitchelton. The backyard of this home was transformed into a living area to create more connection with the outside. Just look at the difference!
Queenslanders were designed in a way that reduces any natural light from the middle of the home. Because a classical Queenslander is symmetrical, the middle of the house normally doesn’t have the means to receive light. Jan would make sure to have natural light in this centre space to freshen up all parts of the building. Whether that means a simple skylight, or the transformation of the room by knocking down walls and creating an open space, Jan would want to see light in that dark central space.
Krisha is one if our graduate architects. Not only does does she have the architecture skills down pat, but she also has a keen eye for interiors.
What does Krisha love about Queenslanders?
Krisha appreciates the homely feeling of a classical Queenslander. The high ceilings, large verandahs and tongue and groove boards all add to such a feeling. Krisha also recognises the potential in Queenslanders for renovation, especially extensions. They are simply designed and can be easily lifted and built under.
What would Krisha change about Queenslanders?
Krisha has worked on many Queenslanders and has noticed a few consistent cons. For instance, she says that these buildings need more space, more insulation and soundproofing, and more bathrooms. Although Krisha appreciates the aesthetics of the VJ look, the single skin walls aren’t practical as they have minimal insulation.
If Krisha were to build a Queenslander from the ground up, how would she design it?
“I’d feature the veranda with some classic Queenslander details. For example, slats between floor and ground if off the ground, or framing with slats detail between posts. I would probably have combination of hipped and gable roof. This allows it to be easily easier extended in the future.” Krisha would try to avoid the house being centred around the hallway, as this causes the rooms to be separated. She would also incorporate arch details to stay within the original era. Another aspect Krisha would make sure her Queenslander would have is a big, open kitchen; fit for entertaining.
Jake is another graduate architect and has almost finished his graduate years, with registration just around the corner.
What does Jake love about Queenslanders?
Jake loves the volume of the spaces, namely the ceiling height and generous verandahs. The character of the flooring and decorative mouldings also strikes his fancy.
What would Jake change about Queenslanders?
Jake would love to see Queenslanders with wider internal hallways and more natural light. He also recognises the separation between outside and inside and wants to see a stronger connection to the garden.
If Jake were to build a Queenslander from the ground up, how would he design it?
Jake’s vision for his Queenslander is to enter the house from the ground level. This entry is a double height space with internal stairs and a mudroom for storage. Moving further into the house, the kitchen, dining, living and study nook are all on this ground level. As a result, this would allow for a ground deck, connecting the inside living area to the outside living area seamlessly. The bedrooms and bathrooms will be upstairs.
Even though architecture isn’t her main specialty, our accountant Liz has been working with our clients and architects for so long it’s clear she has educated thoughts around Queenslanders.
What does Liz love about Queenslanders?
Liz acknowledges that even though Queenslanders were mass produced to a few basic plans, no two houses are exactly the same. They all have their own character and personality, seen especially within the decorative finishing. Liz also loves the outward aesthetics: the eye-sweet designs and the extensive verandahs. She admires that the verandahs are shady and are able to be lived on for six months of the year.
What would Liz change about Queenslanders?
Although Liz appreciates the classical verandahs, she believes Queenslanders could be improved to suit Brisbane climate better.
If Liz were to build a Queenslander from the ground up, how would she design it?
As Liz is an advocate for green energy, she would like to see Queenslanders being built and designed with natural materials. Venting for the verandah ceiling on hot summers days would greatly benefit the overall experience, as any hot air would rise into the vents rather than being trapped in the space.
As you can tell, the team at PlaceMate Architects is passionate about liveable houses and know their way around Queenslanders. So, if you have a Queenslander that isn’t quite cutting it, rest assured this team has got you covered.