Hot Modernism

Exhibition

Hot Modernism unearths the stories of Queensland’s mid-century architecture.

This moment in our history, inspired by a new way of thinking about sub-tropical living, brought a wave of fresh ideas, design and debate to the Queensland landscape.

From the rolling expanse of the Riverside Expressway, to soaring concrete structures like the Torbreck apartment building, and houses explicitly tailored to our unique climate and lifestyle, this period of development paved the way for modern Queensland.

See Queensland through new eyes in this immersive exhibition, featuring a full-scale re-creation of the 1957 Jacobi House, 3D models, and historical drawings. Then drop by the interactive Design our city space where you can build a Brisbane of the future.

Sunbakers at Lennons Broadbeach Hotel, 1958.
Architect: Karl Langer
John Oxley Library, SLQ
Neg #193517

Ravenscraig 2, Surfers Paradise, ca. 1965
Architect: Geoffrey Pie
Geoffrey Pie private collection

Torbreck advertisement

Torbreck: A new concept in modern living (front cover), 1960, Reid Murray Developments (Qld.)
John Oxley Library, SLQ Accession #711236

Modernism in Queensland

1945–75 saw a dramatic transformation of the Queensland landscape.

Seeking a fresh start following the tragedy of World War Two, communities began to question tradition in search of modern and ‘better’ ways of living.

Inspired by global movements in modernist art and architecture, and mass production ideals, new architecture embraced simplified line, colour and style.

Eclectic nineteenth century neighbourhoods with their traditional timbered houses made way for mass produced cottages, high rise towers, multistorey car parks, community pools, expressways and shopping complexes.

Modified to meet the requirements of the state’s tropical and subtropical climates, the international flavour of modernism was tempered by a renewed interest in local practices and devices such as the verandah, the elevated house, and building with natural timbers.

As a result, a new approach to building and living — the ‘twentieth-century subtropical’ — quietly emerged in modern Queensland.


Architectural drawing of Glenfalloch, New Farm
Architect: Lund Hutton Ryan Moreton
Lund Hutton Ryan Morton Collection, University of Queensland Library.

Chris Osborne and Susan Bennett own the Eisenmenger House in Carina, built by Barry Walduck. For these owners living in a modernist house is a dream. But it is also a responsibility: to act as a custodian and see that their treasure is well cared for and passed on to the next generation to appreciate.


Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture

This digital archive of Queensland architecture offers a wealth of information on the region's design history. Currently focussed primarily on the period 1945-1975, the database comprises thousands of audiovisual and textual files that allows you to explore relationships between people, projects and firms in the post-war period.

Commerce Building, Model, ca. 1973 Architect: BVN Architecture
BVN Offsite Archive, Box 6434, Envelope 711004: 'Commerce Building', 2757-72

Hot Modernism events program

Retro rides

Sat 6 & 13 Sep, 9am

$40, bookings required

A pedal powered, two-wheeled journey from past to present day Newstead, New Farm and Teneriffe – designed for both the savvy local and curious tourist.

Redevelopment of Brisbane’s Culture Precinct

Sat 20 Sep, 1pm–5pm

SLQ Gallery, level 2

Free, bookings required

Join architects John de Manincor (UQ), Peter Skinner (UQ) and Don Watson (architect and historian) to examine the current proposal and come up with alternative designs for the Cultural Precinct.

Hot and bothered forum

Mon 29 Sep, 1.30pm-5pm

SLQ Auditorium 1, level 2

Free, bookings required

Learn more about the value of Queensland’s hot modernisms, and the challenges for architects working with these buildings today.

Gallery tour

Thu 2 Oct, 6pm

SLQ Gallery, level 2

Free, bookings required

Drop by after-hours to explore Hot Modernism with guest architect Aaron Peters.

Brisbane Open House

Sat 11 & Sun 12 Oct, 10am–5pm

guided tours on the hour 11am–3pm

Free, bookings required

State Library invites you to discover the secrets within its walls

Check out the full program of What's On at SLQ.

Architectural drawing of La Boite Theatre, Petrie Terrace, ca. 1972
Architect: Wilson Architects
Wilson Architects collection

Architectural drawing of La Boite Theatre, Petrie Terrace, ca. 1972
Architect: Wilson Architects, Wilson Architects collection

Perspective of proposed Taringa residence for Mr and Mrs J.A. Sutton.
Architect: Aubrey H. Job and R.P Froud
John Oxley Library, SLQ
Accession #3228

University of Queensland Central Library, St Lucia, ca. 1973
Architect: Robin Gibson, Fryer Library, UQ

See the Hot and Bothered Film Competition entries and vote for a people's choice winner

Learning notes

 Pre-visit

Designed to complement SLQ's Hot Modernism exhibition, the learning notes align with the Australian Curriculum in History, Geography, and The Arts. Use the notes to enhance students' learning experiences pre-visit, whilst visiting the exhibition, and post-visit.

 Visit

Use the activities to guide and enhance your journey through the exhibition

 Post visit

Be inspired by the videos, prepare activities to expand your thinking, and access books and online resources from State Library's collections to continue your journey into design thinking

Centenary Pool, Spring Hill
Architect: James Birrell, James Birrell private collection

Toowong Library sketch
Image number 28199-0001-0005, from Acc 28199
James Peter Birrell Photographs

Library Shop

Visit the Library Shop for Hot Modernism posters, postcards and books.

Supporters

Presented by

State Library of Queensland Queensland Government
University of Queensland

Supported by

Conrad Gargett Riddel Ancher Mortlock Woolley Wilson Architects

Principal Sponsor

Supported by Australian Research Council's Linkage Project funding scheme, and project partners BVN Donovan Hill, Conrad Gargett Riddel Ancher Mortlock Woolley, and Wilson Architects.

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