As Bristol Rose made her way up the Brisbane river in October, the crew were shocked to see all the cool new buildings and restorations along the riverfront. Apartments where industrial sites used to sprawl, the Powerhouse now a fabulous arts space, lots of cool concrete, glass, miles of boardwalks and cycling paths, and very "new" uniquely Australian landscaping.
Brisbane was putting on a great show of modernity, class, style and fun for all to see. That was just two and a half months ago, before the flood of January 2011. With loads of hard work, even more money, and typical Aussie never-say-die spirit, Brisbane will look great again when all the mud and debris is cleaned away.
Will the developers have to change the way they think, design and build? There's wisdom in the old ways of building in the Sunshine State. It's worth taking a seriously close look at how it used to be.
The typical old "Queenslander" was built on stilts - hmmm, no prizes for guessing why! While the old homes might get their feet (or stilts) wet, the living spaces could sit high above invading waters. The height allows cooling breezes to circulate, provides a place to park the car out of the burning sun. And who didn't have a clothesline under the house for hanging the washing on rainy days?
The "Queenslander" has wide verandahs to shade the windows and keep the rain at a distance. Some covered in their verandahs for extra living space but even left open, they're extremely practical and useful. The verandahs and "under the house" allowed space for kids and adults to get outdoors, under cover from the elements. And best of all, those grand old houses are charming and beautiful to look at. You've gotta love a Queenslander!