Hot Modern Design Down Under

Pool
The Centenary Pool, Spring Hill, Brisbane, by the great James Birrell awaits your visit. Photo courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Cool buildings designed for a hot climate are the focus of a new exhibit near the shores of the South Pacific, proving again that mid-century modernism knows no boundaries.

The Hot Modernism display, at the State Library of Queensland in the city of South Brisbane, Australia, includes architects and buildings that will be unknown to most Californian fans – but well worth learning about.

Worth a trip? On Qantas it’s $1,479 from Los Angeles – round trip. A deal! The exhibit remains up through October 12.

From 1945 to 1975, the library reports, “Eclectic nineteenth century neighborhoods with their traditional timbered houses made way for mass produced cottages, high rise towers, multi-storey car parks, community pools, expressways and shopping complexes.

“Modified to meet the requirements of the state’s tropical and subtropical climates, the international flavor of modernism was tempered by a renewed interest in local practices and devices such as the verandah, the elevated house, and building with natural timbers.”

One eye-catching masterpiece was designed by James Birrell, “one of the heroes of Australian architecture of the 1950s and 1960s,” according to reporter Joe Rollo of The Age.

It’s the Centenary Pool, Spring Hill, with the sinuous curves of an elevated snack bar. It’s something Palm Springs would appreciate.

And guess what? It’s still there! So pack your goggles. You will need to cool off while you’re down under.

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