The Origins of the Elevated Queensland House

Roderick, Donald Charles (2003). The Origins of the Elevated Queensland House PhD Thesis, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland.

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
s37651154_phd_finalthesis.pdf Thesis full text application/pdf 14.74MB 990
Author Roderick, Donald Charles
Thesis Title The Origins of the Elevated Queensland House
School, Centre or Institute School of Architecture
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2003-12
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status Other
Supervisor Peter Skinner
Antony Moulis
Total pages 343
Total black and white pages 343
Language eng
Subjects 120103 Architectural History and Theory
1201 Architecture
Abstract/Summary The vernacular elevated housing of Queensland is to be found widely in its homeland Australian state. This elevation of housing as a key distinguishing feature is commonly regarded to be emblematic of Queensland. Contrary to widely held opinion the Queensland House is not unique. Elevated housing existed in other parts of the world well before its appearance in Queensland. Those who research the elevated housing of these other places generally attribute their elevated form to the desire to create a cool habitat. Some declare that they were elevated to overcome flooding problems. Some identify the use of the understorey as the primary intention of the elevated form. These rationales have also been advanced in Queensland where diverse reasons for elevation are part of the local folklore. This thesis argues that the elevated housing to be found both overseas and in Queensland had a principal intention to provide protection from the endemic fevers that were prevalent and dangerous in the tropical world. To understand this argument this study examines the state of medical understanding at the period of the development of the elevated house. Prior to 1900 the causes of many diseases were attributed to miasma, or tainted air, emanating from places such as swamps, warm wet soil and lush vegetation. These emanations were believed to be at their most intense close to the ground. With height there was seen to be a rapid loss of concentration as the miasma was dispersed by the free circulation of air or diluted by combination with clean air. The notion of elevation of living quarters was derived from that belief. Building above the ground level, with the underfloor area left open, was deemed to isolate and protect the building from the miasma and at the same time allow the dispersal of the miasma by the free circulation of air. While these notions are now dismissed as ‘the miasma theories’ they were not theories at the time in review. They were regarded as facts proved by hundreds, possibly thousands, of years of empirical observations. The later years of the nineteenth century saw some dissent from their canons. Pasteur and other microbiologists showed that disease was the consequence of microorganisms such as invasive bacteria, parasites and viruses. In a similar movement the emergent notion of the spread of disease by ‘contagion’, or contact with other affected people, was supplanting the miasmatic theories. The virtual end for the miasmatic theories came with the discovery that mosquitoes were the vectors of malaria. This study shows how the elevated house form was initially developed in places other than Queensland. Case studies are made of the West Indies, the East Indies and at Port Essington where elevated buildings made their first appearance on the Australian mainland. It is then shown how the elevated mode was adopted in Queensland in response to the presence of fevers and the considerable demand for housing in the early years of European settlement. The arrival of the elevated mode of housing was simultaneous with the arrival of the first free migrants to Queensland. It is argued that as a cultural endeavour the elevated house had its origins and development in classical scholarship. With its foundations established by Hippocrates, and its progression to the era of its final development via the Renaissance, its lineage lies within the high cultural stream of learning.
Keyword Architecture

Document type: Thesis
Collections: UQ Theses (RHD) - Official
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 19 Jun 2013, 15:28:17 EST by Deborah van der Plaat on behalf of School of Architecture