The Hot Modernism: Building Modern Queensland 1945-1975 exhibition was on display at the State Library of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) between July and October, 2014. Curated by Gavin Bannerman, Janina Gosseye, Deborah van der Plaat and Kevin Wilson, it attracted more than 18,000 visitors.
Hot Modernism: Building Modern Queensland 1945-1975 explored Queensland’s architecture from 1945 to 1975, and was arranged according to five themes: (1) climatic design and regionalism; (2) international influences; (3) urbanisation and infrastructure; (4) lifestyle; and (5) colour and art. Through these five themes, the exhibition explored how universal challenges, such as post-war housing shortages, cities’ need for civic infrastructure, the rising popularity of the car…, were addressed in highly particular ways in Queensland, relative to local circumstances, histories and context. And perhaps the most notable distinction in the Queensland case: the heat and humidity referred to in the exhibition title. The exhibition thus sought to formulate a response to the question ‘how to negotiate the tension between internationalism and more characteristic or distinctively local expressions of culture’; and even more broadly: how to manage the basic friction between tradition and modernity.
The centrepiece of the exhibition was the Jacobi House. Designed by Hayes & Scott, it was originally constructed in 1958 (and is still standing today). Located in Indooroopilly, a suburb of Brisbane that urbanised rapidly in post-war years, the house is a decisively modern interpretation of the timber and tin Queensland house. Measuring only 9 by 9 metres, it has an inventive, diagonal plan that was specifically adapted for the client’s desire to have a large living room with good acoustics. Adding to this its distinctive exterior colour scheme – bright orange roof beams and pale green walls – the Jacobi House effortlessly touched upon all five exhibition themes and was therefore reproduced at scale 1:1 inside the gallery.
Visit the exhibition website here.
Read Naomi Stead’s review of the exhibition in The Journal of Architecture here.