Some places of interest in Queensland and beyond.

A cemetery like no other -Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogardent) Stockholm

June 2020

This cemetery is like no other. That it is probably the only 20th century cemetery on the World Heritage register indicates that it is something special. The cemetery was established on the site of a disused quarry in the 1920s on the outskirts of Stockholm . Architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz were responsible for the design of several chapels and the landscape.  The photos tell the story.

View from entrance

Sculpture outside the main crematorium

The Woodland Chapel completed in 1920

A distinctive feature of the cemetery is that the headstones are all of a similar size. Only headstones are used to denote graves. Also pine trees have grown up among the headstones to provide a naturalistic setting for the headstones.

Headstones in cemetery

The 34 foot house – a common Queensland house plan

December 2018

34 foot house plan

Workers Dwelling plan 880, 1926

Most houses built in Queensland in the interwar period were of timber construction and based on plans developed by the State Advances Corporation under the Workers Dwellings Act. One of the most common was plan 880 published in 1926. This house was 34 foot square and examples can be found throughout Queensland.

The popularity of this plan was possibly due to its simplicity, ease of reproduction and adaptability. Once a builder had constructed one or two of these houses, all he had to remember was how to add up to 34. The dimensions of 34 foot enabled the rooms across the house to have widths of 14, 12 and 8 feet. Lengthwise the dimensions were 10+10+14=34 for the kitchen and bedrooms; and 14+14+6 for the breakfast room, living room and entrance.

It was also very popular because it was very functional as there was no central hallway. The plan could also be adapted easily. The original plan had the front stairs leading to a small verandah. Later versions incorporated a gable over the front steps.

Another benefit was that the plan could be easily flipped so the verandah was on the left side rather than the right.

The understanding of this type of house based on the plan can demonstrate what are the common elements with interwar houses rather that differences such as roof form.

34 foot house plan

House built in 1928, Ashgrove, photograph 1985

34 foot house plan

34 foot House Ashgrove 2018

34 foot house plan

Variation on original plan with gable over front stairs.

Alligator Creek bridge – an unusual and remarkable bridge

August 2018

Alligator Creek is a tributary of the Fitzroy River about 30 kilometers north of Rockhampton near Yaamba. In 1877 a bridge was built across the creek to improve travel for the growing volume of traffic as pastoralists established runs to the north of Rockhampton. It was a most unusual and innovative structure that has featured briefly in the histories of Australian bridges. Colin O’Connor in Historic Bridges of Australia notes that it was the first known Australian designed long span bridge. Greg Nolan in his thesis The forgotten long span bridges of Australia commented that it was a remarkable timber girder bridge ‘with a complicated system of under-strutting and diagonal metal ties’. Neither O’Connor or Nolan mention a designer or the correct date.

The bridge was opened in April 1877 and was designed by Alexander Jardine, the Engineer of Roads for the Central District (Rockhampton Bulletin 26 May 1877). The bridge was of a Fink truss design. Albert Fink registered the design with the United States Patent Office in 1854. It was one of a number of early patented solutions to the problem of how to build long spans to avoid the expense of building piers.

When a bridge was needed to cross Alligator creek in the mid 1870s, Jardine opted for a bold and daring solution. He rejected the traditional approach of a trestle bridge with piers and instead opted for what would have been considered an innovative solution.

Alligator Creek bridge 1920s

The bridge was in operation for 83 years and was only demolished when it could no longer take the volume and weight of traffic.

Alexander Jardine (1843-1920) features in Don Watson and Judith McKay’s Queensland Architects of the 19th century. Jardine was the son of John and Elizabeth Jardine, early residents of the Rockhampton district. At the age of 21 years, he was a member of an expedition party from Rockhampton to Somerset at Cape York. He later became a surveyor in the Office of the Engineer of Roads for the Northern District. In 1874 he designed, in conjunction with Frederick Byerley, the Engineer in charge, a timber rail bridge over the Dawson River which was the longest timber bridge in the colony. The bridge comprised timber piers with laminated arches of spotted Gum. Jardine later became Chief Engineer of the Harbours and River Department.

In 1881 Alexander Jardine married the well-connected Charlotte Elizabeth Mosman. Her brothers-in-law included Sir Thomas McIlwraith and Sir Arthur Palmer, who both served terms as Premier of Queensland. Her brother, Hugh Mosman, was a member of the Legislative Council. Jardine died in 1920 in London.

Plan of Alligator Creek bridge. Remarkably original drawings survive in the Queensland State Archives.

For a detailed view of the plan click here.


Water Mall – Queensland Art Gallery

March 2018

Click to enlarge

On entering the Queensland Art Gallery from either the Melbourne Street entrance of the Stanley Place entrance, the most prominent and striking aspect of the interior is immediately apparent—the Water Mall. The Water Mall extends beyond the gallery space to the Pelican Plaza on the south-east and the Sculpture Courtyard on the north-west. The Water Mall is enhanced by fountains, sculpture and two waterfalls at each end. The waterfalls, comprising crafted granite tiles, were designed by Robert Woodward. Woodward was also responsible for the Dandelion fountains at the north western end. Five cast bronze Pelicans by Queensland sculptors Leonard and Kathleen Shillam are located in the Water Mall on the south-eastern side of the Art Gallery.


Dandilion fountains

The inclusion of a substantial water feature within the art gallery was strongly resisted by gallery staff in the planning process. They were concerned about the potentially increased humidity, but the architect Robin Gibson managed to persuade the gallery staff and design in the internal section of the water mall with minimal flow and disturbance.

The Water Mall is a remarkable achievement and has constantly prompted accolades from visitors since its opening in 1982.


Waterfall on north-west end of Water Mall


Pelican plaza


Southeastern waterfall and pond

Southbank before southbank

February 2018

South Bank is arguable Brisbane’s best known and recognised destinations with more than 5 million visitors annually. A widely held view is that South Bank developed in response to the success of Expo 88. Public pressure demanded that the space on the banks of the Brisbane River should remain public. But the idea of converting the wharves, warehouses and factories on the south bank into open space was not new.

Town Planning Exhibition City Hall 1994, BCC Archives

Click to large

In 1944, a Town and Home Planning exhibition was held in the Brisbane City hall, sponsored by the Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction, the Brisbane City Council and the School of Architecture, University of Queensland. One panel was devoted to South Side development with the key theme: “The river front must be developed for the people to use and enjoy”. The drawings depict extended areas of park and residential? buildings.

Town Planning Exhibition 1948, BCC Archives

Click to large

A similar exhibition was held in 1948. Again it included a panel of images and drawings on the redevelopment of the Stanley Street riverfront. It declared that the ‘present wharves will all be demolished and the whole area between Stanley Street and the river opened up as a riverside park. A small square will be formed in front of the South Brisbane Station.

While these ideas did not materialise precisely as planned, the concept of extended open space did – an unusual example of where a good idea did come to fruition.