Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mid-Century tour

On the weekend, I was invited to join a self-drive mid-century architectural tour of a small part of Brisbane - St Lucia, Indooroopilly and Toowong.

The planned route and architecture had been selected by my hard-core modernist friend Chris, so that we could view designs by Brisbane architects such as Hayes & Scott, Karl Langer, Douglas & Barnes and Donald Spencer. 

There were about 24 of us and we visited nine places of interest, three of which were mod churches.

Baptistery at Holy Family Church 1961
Stained Glass design by Andrew Sibley

It was certainly a different way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Brisbane is not well known for its modernist architecture, but it does exist if you look long and hard enough.

Most of it is unappreciated which is unfortunate. And the homes are usually knocked down because they are usually on prized parcels of land and new Tuscan villas are erected in their place.

We were able to have a very good look at one fabulous Hayes & Scott home in Indooroopilly which is a deceased estate with the original furniture. It will be torn down soon to be redeveloped. It was the home which broke everyone's heart because it could be a gem again with the right owners. (Sadly, there is no photo of it)

So, here is a quick pictorial of some of the groovy places we saw on the tour. 

Wiener House 1954 designed by Edwin Hayes
Located in St Lucia, it is still owned by the original owner who used to own a fashion boutique in the City.

Langer House 1950 designed by Karl Langer
This house is located in St Lucia. Originally the house would have been cutting edge for Brisbane in 1950.

Karana Village 1969 designed by Donald Spencer & Spencer
Brisbane's first town-house development located in Toowong. The blue and brown brick was funky.

Russell House 1954 designed by Campbell Scott
Located in Indooroopilly. This house is owned by an Heritage architect. We found out because she came out, wondering why 24 people were gathered on the footpath looking at her home!

Holy Family Catholic Church 1961 designed by Douglas & Barnes
This is located in Indooroopilly. It is an amazing concrete structure which is in disrepair, as there is severe concrete cancer and rust. The parish is fundraising to help restore it.

All images are courtesy of Chris Osborne who organised a great afternoon.


  1. Oh, I'm sick with envy. Really.

    But what a wondeful tour for you! I was having a discussion with some friends the other night about what a fabulous suburb is St Lucia. I think a few young architects built there in the 60s because the parcels of land were quite cheap.

    Love the first house. Sorry to waffle.

    Sometimes I'm gleeful that Mid-Century is not such a common taste ... but when I hear a dwelling is to be demolished because its architecture's not appreciated, then I have to wince.

  2. Oh, that sounds like fun!

    I love Chris's work with Brisbane Modern. :)

  3. love the wiener house - just so appealing :) best le

  4. It's the Weiner house for me too. Love those windows!

  5. I like the Weiner house too - the name is great :)
    How sad about the house that is going to be pulled down - bloody greedy developers! I really think it's crap. I get poopy when I see people down here constantly subdividing off their nice big blocks (happening in our street) for crappy units. Just pure greed if you ask me!

  6. i like the names of the places....:) they do house tours here at christmas time. you can go inside homes and see how they decorate for the holidays. usually expensive homes

  7. Fantastic. We are doing a walking architecture tour of the city on Saturday!

  8. What a great way to spend an afternoon! I'm very sad about the house with furniture that will be lost. So much good stuff is lost to Tuscan villainry.

  9. I so wish the Tuscan villa had never left Tuscany. Like an invasive species, it's blighted the land here as well.

  10. That church looks amazing. Looks like you had a great fun... Was any of these houses for sale? Lisa

  11. Gee you do some exciting things. What a great tour concept! The Langer house reminds me of the house I grew up in except mine was ground level only, and had much larger windows. It too was constructed from raw concrete panels that were positioned over large steel poles. It was cutting edge, but importantly safe, and seeing as our house had blown away in Cyclone Tracy that was appealing.
    I agree those suburbs do have unique architecture. Much nicer than some of the newer suburbs that look like(& the song says it best...) "Little boxes on the hill side..." etc, etc, don't want to comment forever, but in finishing,"and they all look just the same". Sad but true.

  12. Thanks for all your comments!

    Lisa, none of the houses were for sale. I'm sure it they were, a lot of us on the tour would've been tempted. xx

  13. wow! That would have been a great experience! I adore the Holy Family Church, so so unique in Brisbane.

  14. I live in a mid-century house - raked ceilings and louvres; internal walls are either brick or glass. I'm on a double block and there was a separate art studio that was joined onto the main house via an extra living room. We have masses of space, very tall ceilings, and so many bloody windows! It's a love it or hate it kinda house. I'm a sucker for mid-century so I offered on it at first sight, even though I wasn't really looking to buy . . .

  15. The Holy Family Church is just amazing! The detailing of the baptist section inside and out is stunning as well. Looked like the tour was well worth it!

  16. Re Holy Family Church Indooroopilly.
    It does not have concrete cancer and rust. It has some stress cracks and some rust in the steel windows. Restoration has been planned and, it is believed, progress will be made after the BER funded hall is completer.
    Architect Parishoner
    12 July 1911

  17. Thanks Architect Parishioner for your clarification about the Holy Family Church. I'm very pleased to hear a restoration is imminent. Thanks again.


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