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Post WW2 Development

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Building Fabric Analysis

Development of the beachside resorts to the north and south of Brisbane began in earnest after the second World War. Before this time, townships such as Caloundra would have been considered too remote for casual visits. When post-war austerity changed to posterity in the 50's and 60's, an optimistic outlook, coupled with increased mobility and a better road network, turned peoples' thoughts to holiday houses and "fun in the sun". Although Caloundra is fortunate in that quite cohesive areas of building stock from this area survive intact, pressure from multi unit developments is having a major impact. These "beach houses" make an important contribution to Caloundra's character. If that character is to be retained, it will be important to generate community awareness and understanding of the style.

Early beach houses were based on the typical "post war austerity" house, basically a simple form with asbestos cement walls and roof and no decoration. Towards the end of the  50's the contemporary styling of the time began to gain more prominence. This was an extension of the "modern movement"  which gained acceptance prior to the war.   The "Art Deco" movement of earlier in the century also had an influence. These were generally holiday houses, so pretension and status seeking attitudes could be "left at home". Materials such as "fibro" could be used truthfully . Efficient use of standard sheet sizes led decorative effects such as double cover strips running around the "waist" of the house. Incidentally, asbestos cement is considered safe if left undisturbed as the harmful fibres are locked into the material. Precautions should be taken when sanding, drilling, demolition etc.

In the early 60's steam curing of Hardie's "Fibrolite" flat sheets ensured ready availability of the material. Various profiled sheets such as corrugated "super six", "shadow line", and for wet areas, "Tilux", with a marble tone pattern, became almost a common denominator of the beach house. Also evident was a readiness to use "modern" materials and equipment such as plastic, vinyl and fluorescent lighting. Laminated plastic was used for kitchen work tops and plastic door handles were common. Although budgets were generally low, people were prepared to experiment with stylistic elements which would not have been considered for the "family home". An example can be found in the use of geometric painted decoration.

Typical features include skillion roofs, sometimes symmetrical with opposing angles; geometric decoration, often painted in bright contrasting colours, but sometimes in porthole or stepping windows; large areas of glazing; sloping walls, either to reduce reflections in glazing or increase span; and "V" columns, again efficient as one footing supported two columns.



The practice of naming houses was still common. Examples such as "Seasongs". "Blue Horizons" and "Lazy Days" convey an image of an easy life by the sea. It's interesting that home units replacing these houses often retain the original name.








Allotment sizes were generally small, often the "standard" 16 perch, approx 10m x 40m. The houses themselves were generally also small, usually with simple rectangular or "L" shaped plans. Planning reflected holiday usage with kitchen/dinning/living combinations and additional sleeping areas designated for guests. Quirks, such as access to a bedroom through another room, were acceptable for a holiday lifestyle.


Appreciation of this style is growing, in fact a number of  architect designed houses in the area have reinterpreted the beach houses in new ways. As a committee member of the Sunshine Coast branch of the National Trust, Roger is keen to promote the style. He has no doubt that in a similar way as the "Queensland Vernacular" style houses were ounce considered of little value, perceptions will change , and that the humble "fibro beach house" will become a treasured part of our HERITAGE.