Queensland House Designs, 1925 to 1959



If you live in a home built between the 1920's and the late 50's then you may well find it, or at least something very close to it, in one of the design catalogues embedded below. The documents contain several hundred building plans including external elevations, floor layouts and in some cases the estimated construction costs at the time of publication. They are obviously of great value to house renovators, history researchers and anyone curious about what their home may have looked like when new. The catalogues are listed in chronological order with some commentary on the evolution of architectural styles.

Please note that I do not own the copyright to these publications. The documents have been sourced from a variety of on-line repositories and are freely available in the public domain. They are published here solely to benefit local historical research and promote the conservation of our shared suburban heritage.

State Advances Corporation, Worker's Dwellings, 1925

The first document was issued by the Worker's Dwellings Branch of the Queensland State Advances Corporation in 1925 (there was a previous catalogue issued in 1917 which I intend to get my hands on and include here in due course). Tens of thousands of workers' houses were funded by the State Advances Corporation, for a range of pre-approved dwelling designs and in accordance with strict eligibility criteria for for applicants.

The 1925 catalogue includes a range of high-set symmetrical and asymmetrical, multi-gable and porch & gable bungalows, and transverse gabled houses. In many ways the collection represents the golden age of timber buildings in Queensland, with an incredible variety of richly ornamented and often fairly spacious designs. They are a testament to the prosperous "roaring twenties" and the resources invested by contemporary society in humble workers' homes. The designs are found throughout our character neighborhoods and inner suburbs.

This document was digitized by the National Library of Australia and is available here.

Hover your mouse over the embedded window and scroll to view the whole document.




Queensland War Service Home Commission, 1927

This collection comes courtesy of the War Service Home Commission, the government department charged with construction of affordable housing for returned WW1 soldiers. Note that the amenities include "electric light", which was available in the inner suburbs by the mid  1920's.



The State Advances Corporation, 1935

The State Advances Corporation released this collection in 1935. The high-set vernacular styles of the previous decade still prevail, albeit in less ornate forms following the depression years. We are also introduced to some low-set timber hybrids, Mediterranean and Spanish Californian inspired brick designs.

This document was digitized by the National Library of Australia and is available here.



Brick Supplies Pty Ltd, 1935

Next a marketing brochure by the Brisbane-based "Brick Supplies Pty Ltd" dated 1935. We are now departing the era of the Queensland vernacular and in facour of international styles suitable for brick construction, including Californian bungalows, old English and modernist designs. The brick homes are (by necessity) low-set.

This document was digitized by the State Library of Queensland and is available here.



Queensland Bungalows, Coutts, 1937

J. V. D Coutts was a prominent Brisbane architect during the early to mid 1900s. His catalogue was intended as a sales tool and was apparently very popular, this 1937 print being the fourth edition. The designs are more substantial than the worker's dwellings described in the government publications and many have two stories. Again we see the 1930's move away from the high-set Queensland styles and the adoption of hybrid, international and modernist forms.

This document was digitized by the State Library of Queensland and is available here.



The Home Building Publishing Company, 1939

This compendium was published by the Home Building Publishing Company in 1939. The designs cover a wide selection with construction costs ranging from £100 to £900 and styles including everything from high-set early century-style Queensland bungalows to 1920's multi-gable, transverse gables and modernist forms. We also see some early examples of the "conventional" style that came to dominate after WW2. The collection is a good reminder of the substantial overlap of design styles across the decades, and the need for caution when attempting to date a house by its design.

This document was digitised by the State Library of Queensland and is available here.



The State Advances Corporation, 1945

The post-war era was characterized by austerity and the drive for cheap housing to cater for a growing population. These designs are often referred to as "housing commission" homes, although in this case they were finances by its predecessor, the State Advances Corporation. The designs consist of "conventional" style weatherboard houses which can be seen all over Australia, and hybrid forms.

This document was digitized by the State Library of Queensland and is available here.

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The Queensland Housing Commission, 1950

The State Advances Corporation was wound up in 1945 and replaced by the Queensland Housing Commission. The post-war years saw a severe shortage of housing and the Commission was given a wide brief to plan, finance, construct and lease dwellings to the Queensland public. The 1950 catalogue is dominated by conventional designs, many still high-set, with two or more stepped "waterfall" hips projecting towards the street.

This document was digitized by the State Library of Queensland and is available here.



The Queensland Housing Commission, 1959

And lastly, a Housing Commission publication from 1959. A few designs of the conventional style are still present but we now see a range of new concepts enabled by novel building materials. Our post-war suburbs still abound in these houses but they have no level of protection and are easily demolished and replaced.

This document was digitized by the State Library of Queensland and is available here.



I will add documents to this article as and when I find them. If you are aware of any other sources (they must available in the public domain), please let me know.

For the authoritative overview of the evolution of Queenland worker's dwellings I highly recommend Judy Gale Rechner's seminal work;"Brisbane House Styles 1880 to 1940, a Guide to the Affordable Home", 1998. The book is available from the Brisbane History Group at http://www.brisbanehistory.asn.au/



3 comments:

  1. Thanks Elizabeth - hopefully the collection will grow, I'm still on the hunt for a few missing publications

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