Character Design Forum

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Consultation has concluded for this project.

Brisbane is a great place to live, work and relax. As Brisbane grows, requiring high-quality and attractive design will mean new development makes good use of space and matches the area in which it’s built.

In late 2018 Council held the Character Design Forum and community consultation to begin creating the Traditional Housing: Alterations and Extensions Design Guide. Council used the feedback to develop a set of design principles which were the basis for the design guide. The design guide is now available for home owners and designers to explore when planning any alteration or extension to a traditional character building. You can read the guide here.

Brisbane is a great place to live, work and relax. As Brisbane grows, requiring high-quality and attractive design will mean new development makes good use of space and matches the area in which it’s built.

In late 2018 Council held the Character Design Forum and community consultation to begin creating the Traditional Housing: Alterations and Extensions Design Guide. Council used the feedback to develop a set of design principles which were the basis for the design guide. The design guide is now available for home owners and designers to explore when planning any alteration or extension to a traditional character building. You can read the guide here.

Guest Book

Please let us know, from your own experiences and values, what makes Queenslanders and other traditional designs special to you?

I am writing this response on behalf of the Windsor and Districts Historical Society of which I am a committee member. At the committee meeting held on 21 January 2019 the following points were discussed:1. The Windsor and Districts Historical Society is very supportive of the Brisbane City Council engaging with the community about the unique character of Brisbane and how to preserve the character of dwellings in Brisbane for future generations to enjoy.2. The State Government and Brisbane City Council are encouraged to work closer together the ensure integrated planning occurs across heritage protection, character preservation and places of cultural significance. A key focus of the Queensland Heritage Strategy is to connect Queenslanders with their heritage. This would be greatly assisted if there was an online resource linked to both levels of government, that enabled people to see positive examples of how heritage has been protected, and examples of character preservation for home owners to see how they can achieve the alternations to character dwellings they require, and integrating character protection and heritage preservation. Currently the information about required planning regulations and heritage protection at both levels of government is primarily available as downloadable pdf documents, in different locations and does not visually engage the homeowner on a journey of possibility. 3. Character preservation needs to focus on aspects of design that are unique to Queenslander homes. This includes not allowing closing in of all verandas with solid walls, and ensuring that the veranda is maintained at the front of character housing. When a house is built in underneath, a setback of the second level at the front under the veranda should be encouraged to preserve the traditional look at the front of the property. There are two general examples.4. The regulations around demolition of heritage listed and character protected homes need to be tightened to ensure that homes do not become so dilapidated that they are declared structurally unsound and demolished. Another example is when only the front facade is required to be maintained, and then there is a delay in the building process for some time and the facade falls down or becomes so dilapidated that it is demolished. The people of Windsor and surrounding suburbs in the inner north (and across Brisbane) have observed this occurring in multiple locations and it gives a clear message that Government at all levels are not concerned about preserving the unique character of Brisbane.5. While it is understood that housing density needs to be increased to support the growing population of Brisbane, the planning requirements need to ensure that- space is maintained between dwellings allowing light in- privacy is maintained by enforcing screening regulations- an ensuring that there are adequate parking spaces provided for in the design. An obvious loop hole in the planning regulations is that a garage wall is allowed to form the fence line on small lot dwellings. You will see many examples of this in the inner north of Brisbane as well as in new housing estates further out. This creates privacy, noise, space and light issues between dwellings and distracts from any character aspects of the dwelling.6. Many people approach the local historical societies in Brisbane interested in researching the history of their home. The home owners are usually trying to establish when their home was built to assist in renovation and resale plans. Many home owners are trying to find evidence of original character design features that have since been altered to reinstate these and or plan renovations consistent with the character of houses dated at a similar time to their own. The historical societies have very little resources to assist people with their research, being staffed by volunteers. A visually attractive online resource portal could be developed, integrating state heritage and Brisbane City Council character protection, providing visual examples of character house features and examples, examples of renovations that preserve the character and resources for researching the history of their dwelling. Home owners could upload their character preservation and history of their home. This would enable community capacity building for the people of Brisbane to become actively involved in preserving the character of their own dwelling and encouraging others around them to do the same. This would truly enable Queenslanders to be connected with their heritage.

Joane over 1 year ago

Brisbane has good points and some nice suburbs but it is becoming dominated by the influx of poorly designed, cookie cutter, cement render medium density complexes that is ruining the character of these suburbs. There are also some pretty awful colour schemes going on, odd pallettes of grey and white mixed in with a bright colour like red or bright green. These buildings don’t even pretend to make an effort to acheive basic design aesthetics and the dominating motif appears to be to maximise developer profit. They CAN look OK soon after they’re constructed but once weather and time sets and black mildew starts forming on the white render surface it just has degrading effect that permeates through the whole suburb.It’s really incumbent on Council to protect existing heritage housing but also to set minimum design standards for new developments particular the ones above two stories high that dominate the suburban streetscapes. Nobody is saying that they have to be built out of gold or look like the Taj Mahal but Council should mandate minimum standards for interesting, diverse and intricate designs and encourage the use of a range of construction materials such as brick, timber and stone rather than soviet inspired render all the time. The approach taken by Council today will determine whether this apparent New World City will be in 20-30 years perceived by the world as beautiful or ugly.

amruss83 over 1 year ago

They show craftsmanship and different materials and textures on the outside of the homes. Modern houses generally are just rendered boxes with almost no brick, timber or fretwork. They are memorable and make walking around local suburbs a pleasure to observe all the differences and individual work. I can't imagine in 100 years a rendered concrete box will be a house museum unless its an idea of what not to do in architecture. The small lot new houses are infuriating in their requirement to have a useless 1m wide verandah on the second story front, there is no form or function to this design.

Hvenz over 1 year ago

To attach to a place is to experience and recognise the different lifestyles of that place. By experiencing our unique architecture and urban design; our lifestyle and value systems; our cultural heritage and creative expression we add value to our place for residents and visitors alike. Quality control of development in response to Brisbane's architectural heritage and natural environment is not only beneficial for current and future residents during rapid urbanisation, but integral to grow Brisbane's cultural capital. Our sub-tropical response to city making, our architecture (colonial, modernist and contemporary) and urban design differs from anywhere else in the world. This is offering an invaluable lived experience for future generations of residents and provides a richer experience for visitors. It is our "persona" as a city. Q: As we urbanise, how might we enhance and/or protect this point of difference for future residents and visitors of Brisbane? A: Council with the community has a responsibility to lead policy on and advocate for a quality management criteria in development to protect/enhance our cultural assets (architecture and urban design) during periods of rapid growth. Let's learn from mistakes past and place a higher value on quality design and architecture in planning and development across all of Brisbane. Let's focus on our strengths to build a more sustainable and attractive city.

Gertrude over 1 year ago

There is not a great deal that is unique about Brisbane's built form. When you are in the city centre, or along the major roads and shopping centres you really could be in any number of cities. What is unique to Brisbane (and Queensland) is the Queenslander, from the very humble 1870s workers cottages in Spring Hill and Petrie Terrace, to the grand Victorian homes of Auchenflower and Hamilton, and the many beautiful interwar Queenslanders across so many of our older suburbs. The use of the locally available material (timber and tin), a recognition and embracing of the subtropical climate through the design of elevated, indoor-outdoor, well ventilated and high ceilinged homes has created a beautiful and uninque vernacular for the city. Queenslander homes respond to our topography, tendancy to flood, and are a unique physical reflection of this combination of circumstances that make up our beautiful city. From an image and identity point of view, retention of our Queenslanders in Brisbane is very important. It provides a return to the whole city in terms of increased tourism spend and improved liveability.Given that every suburb across the city has a mix of old and new housing, I see no reason why we should not be trying to protect all of the Queenslanders from demolition (not just the ones that are in a group of three or more). There is ample choice for owners to purchase a post war or modern house in their preferred suburb if they don't appreciate the value of these homes or they aren't suitable for their needs. I also think that the ability to demolish these homes on structural grounds needs to be carefully reviewed. I watched a 100 year old Queenslander in my street be granted demolition approval because it was deemed to be structurally unsafe, only to be loaded onto a removal truck to be moved off site - clearly the home was structurally sound and of economic value to be sold and relocated. Just because one owner can't see the value of spending on renovating an older home, that shouldn't mean they have the right to remove the home and erode the unique venacular of the city.

Tabitha over 1 year ago

We have to balance increasing density in the inner city with retaining our older style houses and block sizes. The new apartments to increase density must be well built, have a range of apartment sizes. New developments must be designed with climate change at the forefront so to utilise natural cooling, minimise use air con, minimise noise between neighbours with adequate soundproofing.have great green spaces, minimise car parks, good bike and moped parking. Need to be at the forefront of waste and electricity management.We need to learn from overseas experience in countries with very hot environmentsSo lets replace queenslanders with iconic Qld higher rise buildings

KatieP over 1 year ago

My husband bought a cottage in Paddington in the 90's before there were any rules around what could and could not be done to pre-1946 homes. Now we are told we can't demolish these homes, we have to keep them for the character of the suburb. Give me a break. Drive down any street and suburb and homes have been demolished and these homes are now surrounded by modern homes. The fact that when you renovate these types of homes you end up adding at least another $100K to a renovation, which is ridiculous. It's your home and you should be able to do with it what you wish as long as it doesn't encroach on the neighbours property. If we want to knock it down and build a more sustainable house then it should be our right. Instead we have to keep a roof that is more than 2m high which causes issues with adding an extension, we have to keep timber framed windows which are more expensive and more high maintenance, we are left with either replacing lead covered walls with paint or ripping them out (but keeping the external structure), we have to spend more $$ to insulate and seal up all those GAPS so that it meets the sustainable energy limites. It's ridiculous. I'm not stopping anyone else in loving and renovating these pre-1946 cottages but if you choose to demolish then it should be your right, without reason or explanation.

amahl over 1 year ago

I am blessed to live in a 1928 weatherboard home in Gaythorne It has been sad as the charm of our street and historical neighbourhood changed dramatically. We fought council and lost so we grew many palms and trees around our house to block the new apartments. I love my home because the minute you turn the corner you enjoy looking at her . You walk up the stairs you feel the warmth and smoothness of the old wood handrail and see the delicate lattice across the verandah. The windows have their own little hoods and the verandah is such a favourite place to read and catch the breeze. The doors have style and groves and you are graced with a VJ interior. The simple archway feels grand and is balanced by the creaking floor. The family charm almost cuddles you and just loves you back. My home has a story and it was loved by previous owners. 11 kids were born in my home.. My home is modest and the wood is warm and smooth and there are no sharp edges, everything is rounded or curved. the windows pull down and let the hot air out and cool air in and verandahs face the northeast where the breeze comes , when there is one in the afternoon.I researched the history and met the first owners - and I have invited them back and I have watch them step back in time and remember their childhood memories as they look up and scan the rooms from ceiling to floor. It brings tears to their eyes, and I just melt. We stand alone now on a corner as most of the Queenslander homes around us were knocked down in the past 5-10 years. t has been sad as the charm of our street and historical neighbourhood changed dramatically. We fought council and lost so we grew many palms and trees around our house to block the new apartments. My first home was a lowest brick home "in the sticks" at Petrie. We travelled that far (working in the city) because of the glorious views of the mountains as we drove home. Ten years later we moved back into Brisbane because we found our dream home - a 1928 Queenslander. Our brick home had become an oven, all walls facing the natural north-easterly breeze were solid with no windows and a new housing estate was allowed to build a 8 foot fence blocking everyones views of the mountains.!! ?? Why? I have been involved in trying to preserve these beautiful character homes and celebrate their beauty and wise structure and raise awareness through my artwork for over 10 years now. One Council has a rule to protect character homes and then the next council changes the rule and we loosed 35 character homes in 5 years in my suburb (which were in the 1940s aerial photo of Brisbane) which is now reinstated and used to protect character homes. ?? Does not make sense, I had suggested to Council that people could be encouraged to preserve the old homes by recognition - getting a simple Certificate maybe - nothing costly... but acknowledgment of the love and hard work to keep the character home alive for all to enjoy... These simple homes, are enjoyed by the neighbourhood and people who pass by, not just the owners. Beauty helps makes all our lives happier and that makes for a contented happy life and community all round. I love my Brisbane Queenslander home. over 1 year ago

Having lived in a Queenslander for the better part of 20 years, I have truly appreciated its design features for Queensland’s climate ie, cool and airy construction elements; built on stilts; high ceilings; multiple windows and wide verandas, allowing for effective ventilation;spacious gardens.The current trend to reduce land size and squeeze in extra housing is over/crowding the suburbs and reducing climate impact.The new focus on increased numbers of multiple dwellings, poorly/cheaply designed; razing the natural landscape; carelessly increasing population/housing with little care for suitable Infastructure development to match housing development is both thoughtless and short-sighted.

Anne R over 1 year ago

Reading the feedback on this forum I think the forum has been hijacked by the development lobby. I can accept there may be a few dissenting voices against Queenslanders, workers cottages, colonials etc. however I am very sceptical reading the flow of comments. Beware everyone. The development lobby is the most powerful in Australia. We fought for the retaining of the Milton Park against the development lobby and won, for a range of reasons I believe, which had nothing to do with protecting character neighbourhoods. We fought for no 15 storeys in Milton and lost. The pre WW2 homes can be and have been well adapted for our modern lifestyles. Good quality insulation, smart landscaping, smart paint selections, good roofing etc. makes for a highly liveable home. I wish people who don't like the pre-WW2 homes go and live somewhere else. How complicated is that? Those who love these houses, who appreciate their individual character, their innate fascinating histories, their welcoming design, their connection with the street and the neighbourhood, their quality build can then be left in peace to live in them. I could go on for some time about what makes living in these homes great. I would prefer to ask Brisbane City Council if they are actually going to do something constructive and long lasting to protect these homes which form an integral part of Brisbane's character. Having first purchased our little worker's cottage in 1989, then our Queenslander in 1992 and lastly a worker's cottage in 1994 I have seen little attempt by Council to really protect the character housing in our city. I can't tell you how many forums, feedback forms, objections to destruction of character housing in our city, I have been involved with. Please BCC actually do something worthwhile and meaningful for the residents of Brisbane. We want more than just another talkfest. Sorry for the negativity but I have been on this ride before and I am hoping it does not finish the same way- a disappointing winding down to nothingness.

morrisbron over 1 year ago

Queenlander houses are wonderful to live in. I have lived in these types of houses all of my life. They define Brisbane and our lifestyle. If we do not preserve these delightful houses Brisbane will become nothing but a concrete jungle. We need to and should preserve the uniqueness of our older suburbs. When sub division of land is allowed, then any new construction should be built in the same traditional style, not in styles that are not sympathetic to the existing houses in these older suburbs.They are not too cold or too hot, contrary to opinion, particularly if you have insulation In the roof and you don’t build in underneath. The airflow in my house in summer is fabulous as I not enclosed too much underneath the house. My neighbour, whose house is similar to mine, commented the other day how much cooler my house is as I haven’t totally enclosed underneath it. In winter my house is no colder or warmer than other houses. My house is well maintained and is a joy to live in. We need to preserve this unquie architectural style for future generations and respect the past.

Rick over 1 year ago

We Recently had visitors from the U.K. and after staying on the Sunshine Coast came and visited us at Kedron, they fell in love with the old Queenslanders as the walked the avenues of our neighbourhood and said that is what they’d hoped Brisbane streets would look like, We need to retain this character for future generations and put a stop to the destruction of these beautiful old homes immediately. I’d happily have my home on a protection register.

Mickw over 1 year ago

Many of the materials cannot be sourced again. Example timber board sizes, craftmanship and timber species Baltic pine, Cedar, silky oak.The unique designs and character that has soul, As many of Brisbane original building have been knock down in the 70's and 80's for concrete buildings and to make way for developments. Brisbane is dwindling character, the house are the only thing left.

Jackie Cripps over 1 year ago

Until recently I lived in an inter-war Queensland style home and it was a joy to live in. Yes I had added a family room and air conditioning. My home was comfortable in summer and winter and I loved the cross ventilation at night and the sound of rain on that tin roof was fantastic. The number of bricks and mortar or concrete two stories housed beginning to dominate in our inner suburbs is a pity. Streets are losing character and could be any street in Australia, not a Brisbane city street. Keep the character of the house, extend out the back, and help keep Brisbane looking like Brisbane and not somewhere anywhere!

Judy Gale over 1 year ago

The Queenslander was a fine design, to utilise the economical and lightweight materials available in the 18 - 1900s. It allowed air to flow around and through the house. And that is where it ends.By today's standards, Queenslanders are unpleasant houses to live in.They are very noisy, dusty, poorly insulated for sound, heat and cold. They lack privacy between homes and rooms, with open panels above bedroom doors. VJ ceilings and walls are not visually appealing and are a waste of timber. Plasterboard is more practical and attractive.Queenslanders are a huge fire risk!! If you install window security and deadlocks, you and your family may well burn to death in your wooden shack. Owing to the fire risk, you can't safely build close to a boundary, which is a waste of space on very small inner city lots. Timber needs to be treated with toxic chemicals for durability. The houses get eaten by termites. Timber and tin 'Queenslanders' are just not appropriate any more, except in museums and photos.There are lots of people saying, 'I was born and bred in a Qlder, therefore they are best'. But in actual fact, it just illustrates that living in a Qlder is the only thing that those folk know. It does not mean that they know best. In the heat in Spain or Greece, Africa or India, they will laugh at timber and tin in 40C, then in 5C. They don't have aircon or heating either. They all know that earth and concrete density is how you beat the heat. We are well into the 2000s, not the 1800s. Many of us do not want to live in a wooden museum piece. I don't want to live in a monstrosity either. I love the small scale (2 storey), single lot housing of West End, close to the heart of the city.I do not like Council or others, especially renters in the area, trying to force people to retain uncomfortable, old timber and tin houses. Or try to renovate dilapidated buildings at huge cost. That is inefficient . Even worse, the expectation that we ought to build replicas?!!!The only constant in this world is change. Embrace it. Let's utilise the wonderful materials and technologies that we have available, not old temporary timber and tin shack style from centuries ago. That includes solar panels, batteries and inverter reverse cycle aircon units.Let's embrace current sub-tropical designs, low scale, flat skillion roofs (double skin, insulated panel), large eaves, heavily tinted glass (and double glazed), glass louvres, glass handrails, (that don't require sanding and repainting), powder coated aluminium joinery, (not high-maintenance wood), some common build to boundary walls, concrete, rendered block or steel frames and concrete sheet.... durability.Concrete is one of the finest materials available, It is durable, with great thermal and sound damping properties. It is non toxic, non flammable, non edible and generally is tremendously durable, earthquake and cyclone proof. The floors can be suspended above ground in low lying areas and will withstand a flood better than any timber and tin shanty. Exteriors can be treated with attractive features, or be rendered and white washed to give a beautiful Mediterranean or Tuscan feel. Alternatively, steel frame, with compressed concrete sheet is an inexpensive and far safer and more durable alternative to timber.And importantly, we residents do not want to park our cars on the skinny little streets without shelter or security. A 2 story house, with a double garage under (not tandem) is a standard requirement in the 2000s.Queenslander house are for the sentimental folk. Let's live in the now.

Queenzlander over 1 year ago

Hot in summer, cold in winter due to lack of insulation and lack of eaves. Vulnerability to rot and termites. Being a death trap due to poor wiring practices and flammable materials. Unsuitable small, cramped layouts and roof arrangements. Nothing being straight, square, plumb or level. Lack of car parking, forcing people to use the street.Asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous substances putting occupiers at risk. Use of timber which is now unsuitable and unaffordable due to historic unsustainable usage. Flat head screws. Terminal disrepair.Aesthetically pleasing façade.I think there's nothing worth saving but the basic aesthetic, therefore, on balance, I would support any proposal to raze all but the best examples of these to the ground.

Laren over 1 year ago

The design of Queenslanders are unique and a very important element of Brisbane's history. We must maintain and respect this history by not allowing new developments/ apartments/ modern townhouses. I support development in the right pockets of Brisbane but clear town planning needs to manage this. Like some below have said we need to adapt to the modern way of living and therefore allow respectful renovations whilst keeping the façade of traditional Queenslanders. Planning permits need to support the restoration of these homes by allowing modern renovations but ensuring the heritage value is not lost.

ErinS over 1 year ago

I see a lot of submissions from people who have had bad development decisions impact them, who feel restricted that they can't develop too. I understand where they are coming from, but at the same time we don't make things better by continuing with the wave of over-development unchecked.I think that the Brisbane City Council have good, professional planners, but the Planning Guidelines are written in such a vague manner as to cause many development proposals to become a fight. I am only familiar with the LMR2 rules, but I expect that the same approach is used generally. The Guidelines are currently written with relatively soft Performance Outcomes, each with a corresponding Acceptable Outcome. Of the half dozen or so DAs that I have looked into, the developer has ignored the "Acceptable Outcomes" ruling on Site Cover Ratio, Height and Set Back. There has been no attempt to match the existing streetscape or keep in harmony with the existing neighborhood. As a consequence, the local community pushes back. This ends up wasting an enormous amount of everyone's time and Council resources. (On the other hand, it is a terrific way to meet all the like minded people that make up your local neighborhood.)The Planning Guidelines need to clearly identify what are hard and fast rules with the understanding that any Development Application that does not meet these rules shall not be considered further. This would, I hope, result in more balanced Development Applications that provide a better starting point for being consistent with the existing neighborhoods and are more likely to be acceptable to the local community. If the planning vision is clear and the rules to support that vision are clear, and those rules are strictly enforced, then we won't have to continue this confused mix of character homes directly adjacent to excessive and over-sized developments, and we'll save a bunch of Council resources too.

MarkJ over 1 year ago

With the constant infilling of over height development on the doorsteps of character residential and demolition controlled properties, We can not and are not allowed to adapt, Why as a home owner that lives in a single level dwelling on 305sqm should i not be able adapt to the 14 story developments on my back boundary? In this case my CR2 zoning should be lifted and changed to LMR for the purposes of being able to adapt my house to the changing surroundings. Our height and building restrictions should be removed and we should have the option to remove and rebuild if we have to be subjected to such large scale and imposing developments overlooking our back yards and infringing on our privacy. I don't want to see character lost but the council has started to destroy large enclaves of character with ugly urban development creeping in, Previous houses were destroyed without consent and new unsympathetic houses have been built and don't sit right in these areas.

Haggly over 1 year ago

The council are holding home owners to ransom - these house are old and need a lot of work and maintenance. By restricting what can and can't be done makes them extremely expensive to maintain and renovate and it is cheaper to sell and move into a modern house than try fit space and storage in with all the restrictions. They are also not energy efficient homes and with climate change will only become hotter and hot if we are restricted to what we can do to them.

TP over 1 year ago