Character Design Forum

Brisbane is a great place to live, work and relax. As Brisbane grows, requiring high-quality and attractive design will mean new development makes good use of space and matches the area in which it’s built.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Character Design Forum. The forum closed on 31 January 2019.

About the Character Design Forum

Brisbane has a unique and special character. The topography and landscape of the city, its architecture and public spaces, the cultural and social activities taking place, the transport choices available and distribution of land uses all contribute to the lifestyle and collective experience of the city.

This character is important to residents, visitors, investors and businesses. It provides a link to the past, exposing the layers of change that have occurred in the city, as well as opportunities to celebrate and shape the future character and identity of Brisbane.

An important contributor to the character and identity of our city’s suburbs are our iconic Queenslanders and other traditional residential designs. As our city is adapted to meet our changing social, environmental and technological needs, we need to manage the balance between meeting these new requirements while respecting the character of our traditional houses, streets and suburbs.

Developed with input from more than 100,000 residents, representing one in five households across every suburb in Brisbane, Brisbane’s Future Blueprint identifies the protection of our Queenslanders and other traditional designs as an area that residents wanted to have more say. As a result, Brisbane City Council developed an online forum for residents to have their say from November 2018-January 2019.  This was one of the actions in Brisbane’s Future Blueprint.

Design principles

As a result of the feedback received, Council has developed the following design principles to shape how we protect Queenslanders and other traditional designs in Brisbane. The design principles are categorised into:

  1. Principles that are concerned with the impact on the street frontage, and;
  2. Principles that are applicable to the extension or adaptation to the side or rear of the existing dwelling.

Street frontage principles

Respect the local context and streetscape:

  • The contributing traditional character of the street should be identified and inform the design response in the design of any extensions or adaptations of existing houses.
  • The extension/adaptation should respect the original house and should not dominate the original building or existing streetscape.
  • The scale and proportion of the adapted/extended house should reflect the grain and rhythm of the streetscape.

Integrate front gardens:

  • Significant trees and vegetation should be retained and sufficient space for front setback landscaping provided in response to traditional garden settings.

Accommodate the car:

  • Car accommodation should not obstruct views and access to the house.
  • Car accommodation should not dominate the streetscape and are to remain secondary to the dwelling.

Complementary fencing:

  • Strong visual links between the public and private realm should be retained.
  • Traditional fences are to be retained and replacement fences should be sympathetic to the original fence.
  • Fencing should be of an appropriate height and sympathetic to the materials, period and style of the house.

Retain the verandah:

  • Where fronting the street, existing verandahs and entries should be retained, including existing verandah and entryway details.

Integrate original details:

  • Period features and details are an important element of the building character and streetscape, and should be retained.

Extension and adaption principles

Respect the original building:

  • The extension/adaptation should respect the existing house by being sympathetic to and not detracting from the original house or streetscape in terms of built form (shape, bulk, scale and proportion) and landscape, and be recognisable as a new addition.

Balance built form and landscape:

  • The siting of extension/adaptation should maximise the amount of permeable ground and landscaping.
  • The location and site cover of the extended/adapted house should be proportionate to the size of the block and reflect the existing streetscape.

Access to daylight and privacy:

  • The extension/adaptation should be set back from site boundaries to facilitate access to daylight and ensure privacy to/from neighbours.

Comfortable, sustainable, adaptable and functional:

  • The extensions/adaptations should be built for the sub-tropical climate, designed to capture cross breezes and incorporate features such a wide eaves and window hoods to protect windows and doorways from rain and direct sunlight.
  • Houses need to be adaptable to accommodate new technology, such as renewable energy or energy efficiency devices.

Next steps

Council will develop a design guide to illustrate the key design principles identified through the Character Design Forum for extensions and adaptations of Queenslanders and other traditional residential houses. This will be supported by future amendments to Brisbane City Plan 2014 to regulate better design outcomes for works that are extending or adapting traditional houses.

More information

For more information email the project team or phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Last updated:22 July 2019