Hot Modernism: Building modern Queensland 1945–75

By ai

July 9, 2014 - Oct. 12, 2014

10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

State Library of Queensland, Stanley Pl, South Brisbane, Brisbane, Qld, 4101, Australia

Centenary Pool in Spring Hill by James Birrell.Image: James Birrell private collection

The exhibition explores the history and stories behind the state’s mid-century architecture. 

“Influenced by new-found optimism, there was a greater connection to the world and a desire for a new way of living – elements which were characterized in the Modernist movement,” says Queensnland state librarian, Janette Wright.

As Modernism spread around the globe, the building and rebuilding of the world in the postwar years spurred on a period of social change, rethinking the way we live in and use the city. Queensland’s sub-tropical climate gave rise to particular local flavours in its architecture, peppered with verandahs, natural timbers and elevated sub-floors.

Featuring archival photographs, original drawings and 3D models, the exhibition charts the history of this Queensland twentieth century sub-tropical modernism, with not only the stories of the architecture but also the people who created it, worked and lived in the buildings.

The groundbreaking projects include Centenary Pool by James Birrell and Torbreck apartment building by AH Job and RP Froud (winner the Robin Gibson Award Enduring Architecture in 2014 Queensland Architecture Awards). The highlight of the exhibition will be a full-scale recreation of 1957 Jacobi House by Cameron Scott which will also host a talk by multiple generations of its residents.

Other highlights in the events program include:

  • Sunday film sessions with screenings of mid-century cult classics – Mon OncleGoldfingerand Planet of the Vampires.
  • Gallery tours with guest architects Alison Hampson and John Railton.
  • Professor Tom Avermaete talk on modernism around the world.
  • Comedian Tim Ross’ stand up show on mid-century design (which has been performed at iconic house around the country including the Rose Seidler House in Sydney and Robin Boyd’s Walsh Street House in Melbourne).

This is not an exhibition about the nostalgia of Modernism, but rather, it considers the parallels between our contemporary social context and the postwar era, both being periods of intensive city making and growth. To that end, Hot Modernism (presented in collaboration with the University of Queensland) includes an interactive space – Design Our City – which looks into the future planning of cities in the global context of design challenges including transportation, sustainability and community building. Full program of events and information here.


State Library of Queensland
+61 7 3840 7666