Houses are becoming apartments

Queenslander - brad scruseAustralia’s colonial homes are a wonderful part of our architectural heritage but they are being transformed in a way that sabotages their designers’ intentions.

It is more obvious in Queensland than elsewhere as the change sweeps across the sprawling timber houses that showcase a bygone era.

The hot, steamy conditions that characterise the Sunshine State were the driving force behind the design of houses that featured long rows of windows on all sides.

They were cast open to catch the breezes and cool the interior while verandahs frequently cast shade on the windows and offered a comfortable haven from which to watch the world go by.

But these days societal insecurity – fuelled by regrettable crime statistics – has prompted a retreat from this gracious lifestyle. Fear of burglary and home invasion has ensured most of these windows now remain closed most of the time.

Soaring property prices and an envy of McMansions has seen many of these glorious verandahs closed-in to create additional rooms.

The upshot is that what used to be living, breathing homes have now become rather sterile apartments with limited external access and a very inward living focus. In each case, the owner’s world has shrunk.

The result is understandable but still sad. It reflects the loss of a lifestyle that was once universally admired for its appropriateness and connection with nature.

Worse, it speaks volumes about the decline of individual safety in contemporary society. There is a loss of innocence writ large in each instance. We are very much the poorer for the loss of our freedom.


 Acknowledgement of image: Brad Scruse