In a climate that broaches sweltering temperatures the majority of the year, Queenslander homes are an Australian icon.
So synonymous with Queensland living in fact, the Museum of Brisbane is transforming the way we think of these old homes in its newest exhibition, Gentle Northerly: The Reimagined Queenslander. A collection of four homes is presented as an ever adapting, and steadfastly quintessential aspect of the Brisbane lifestyle.
Of the homes, South Brisbane’s Shutter House is the most intricate. The Baber Studio home is an aesthetic timber masterpiece, taking its name from the geometric wooden shutters that mask the western side. The urban refuge pays tribute to the orthodox timber wrap verandah, rejoicing in the vibrant tradition of the backyard, expanding upon the idea to create something beautiful. Despite architect Kim Baber describing the original brief as “pretty common”, the old worker’s cottage is now the perfect balance of old and new. The mere wish to exploit the view of Mt Coot-tha was surely fulfilled, and the owner’s bid to increase privacy received an innovative response.
From the outside of the home, it resembles a jungle gym. Inside light shines through raw slender panes illuminating the warm glow of timber. From the inside, the effect is dazzling. Filtered natural light streams into the new exterior room, a hybrid space defined by narrow blackbutt boards bordering the original wide pine flooring. Operable shutters create an ethereal glow opening the home to boundless lighting possibilities, giving the owner complete control and shelter of harsh afternoon light. Kim explains, “Using patterned vertical timber and translucent polycarbonate strips, the shutters allow orchestrated openings that edit and amplify the view.”
Entering the home, stilted stairs of the would-be exterior staircase tease at what is to come in the main living area. With each step, light reflects through the cracks of each individual shutter, creating a kaleidoscope of warmth. The home boasts sweeping city views that contrast nicely with the house’s organic interior. The cedar clad deck with orchestrated openings provide picturesque views while granting privacy in the comfort of the home. Within the expanse of the living area sits a cushioned reading nook, a place of comfort awash with natural sunlight. The Queenslander is not only suited to daytime, it is just as idyllic at night when it is bathed in starlight.
The kitchen holds remarkably mismatched timber tones distinct against the outer walls, and a ceiling punctured by a warm skylight. The expanse is juxtaposed with white benches and hangings drawing the eye to highly crafted joinery, smooth brush box timbers and luxury finishes. Benched seating hugs the edges of the exterior platform beyond the kitchen, allowing maximum enjoyment of the generous views.
Queenslanders offer an important sense of place and homes such as Shutter House are helping shine a light on an important piece of history. It is an intimate and creative way to merge an architectural tradition with the modern world.