Perspectives on built heritage preservation: a study of Queenslander homeowners in Brisbane, Australia

Abstract

Set in Brisbane–Australia’s third city—this study solicits the views of residents regarding the preservation of the iconic Queenslander houses (late nineteenth century–early twentieth century). Through in-depth interviews with twenty participants, we sought to determine whether owner-occupiers of Queenslanders value this heritage and why, whether they are engaged in its protection, and if so, what their motivations are. We found that Queenslanders are valued on multiple levels: as placemaking features, as aesthetic pleasure, and as climatic comfort. While maintaining an older home involves a substantial amount of time and money—available mostly to the middle-class and middle-aged groups—this is viewed as fair considering the benefits of living in a Queenslander. Residents believe that the local government can and should do more to protect what is left of the historical housing stock. However, one portion of the public only cares to preserve the outer shells of heritage homes while extensively renovating and modernising interiors. A concern for heritage is sometimes used as a screen for NIMBYism. As a growing city, Brisbane needs to navigate a fine line between increasing the supply of apartment units and preserving the character of local neighbourhoods, which traditionally have been single-family only.

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Source: State Advances Corporation (1935)

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Source: Brisbane City Council (2020)

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For the purpose of this article, terms such as ‘heritage’ and ‘character’ are defined as built form pre-dating the modern style which emerged after WWII. These are not necessarily of importance as judged by Australian legislation but embody the qualities and characteristics of Queensland vernacular architecture.

  2. 2.

    In local parlance, the term ‘suburb’ is used interchangeably with ‘neighbourhood’; it does not necessarily imply a large distance from the CBD.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank all the participants in this research. This research was supported by The University of Queensland, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, ‘Higher Degree by Research’ funding.

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Correspondence to Dorina Pojani.

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Neilsen, V., Pojani, D. Perspectives on built heritage preservation: a study of Queenslander homeowners in Brisbane, Australia. J Hous and the Built Environ 35, 1055–1077 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-020-09767-z

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Keywords

  • Built heritage preservation
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Queenslander houses
  • NIMBY syndrome
  • Neoliberal planning