I am the first to admit that there is a lot I do not know about historical Queensland, so when I had the opportunity to visit the State Library’s latest exhibition I expected to unearth a wealth of knowledge.
These expectations were fully realised. Hot Modernism: Building Modern Queensland 1945-75 is a free exhibition that runs until 12 October. Over a year in conception and planning in conjunction with the University of Queensland and the State Library, the scope of Hot Modernism is immense. It is an experience to immerse yourself in; one that stimulates all of the senses. From walking through the front doors, images of the iconic Queensland home enveloped me. The first corridor brought back early years of playing on the front deck of an Old Queenslander, walls decaled in the trademark wooden bannisters that enclose their wide verandahs. Bird-song and bush noises drift through the air as footage of the Storey Bridge plays as the backdrop. Continuing through, the verandah leads to a full-scale recreation of Indooroopilly’s 1957 Jacobi House, a prime example of an affordable and modernist take on the Queenslander.
Hot Modernism puts mid-century Queensland architecture into the context of the changing Australian lifestyle, searing climate and the rest of the world. Queensland architects of the era travelled extensively outside of Australia, studying what other countries had to offer and bringing the knowledge back home. Once back in Queensland the climate and lifestyle further shaped the architectural landscape. To curator Kevin Wilson this adaption is the most fascinating aspect of the project. “It’s interesting to see how things change,” he says when discussing the advances Queensland architecture has made, noting that sometimes the changes come full-circle with previous trends re-emerging.
There is more information packed into this exhibition than I could hope to absorb in one lazy afternoon. With interactive virtual tours, video footage of prominent architects, historical drawings and 3D models; this is as thorough a journey into Queensland’s mid-century domestic past as you’re likely to find.
Further information on the exhibition and architects involved is available at the Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture website www.qldarch.net
Words and images by Joelene Pynnonen