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Fibro Coast

Touring Exhibition


Cultural Awareness

Organisation Collaboration

Cultural Research

Artist Promotion


Resource Publication

Touring Exhibition

Public Program



Project Management

Grant Writing

Build Partnerships

Develop Tour Itinerary

Tour Coordination



Sunshine Coast Council

University of the Sunshine Coast

Gold Coast City Council


At a time of rapid change to the urban fabric of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, this partnered project will give communities the opportunity to re-engage with their coastal heritage and in particular the cultural, architectural and design legacy associated with the beach houses of the 1950s to 1970s.

The fibro beach house has been an important part of Australia’s iconic beach culture for more than three generations. Not only are these dwellings among the most loved and recognised of mid-twentieth century Australian design, they also hold the stories and memories of the many families who settled or holidayed on the beach. They are central to Australia’s beach and holiday heritage.

While these houses now evoke a way-of-life and lifestyle that has slipped away, their influence on the design principles of today are ever increasing. Open plan living, single pitched rooflines, passive climate control and lightweight materials are design principles that are now celebrated as sustainable design and building practices.

Australia’s love affair for the beach continues to grow. We now prefer to live and work by the beach, which has placed considerable pressure on coastal regions and led to the demise of the fibro beach house and many of the places connected to our coastal heritage.

This project will deliver a shared exhibition at the Gold Coast City Gallery and University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery and a public program for each region. The project will research and interpret the region's unique coastal lifestyle and the cultural value of the beach house and associated holiday heritage. The project will build awareness and potentially motivate the community, property owners and authorities to work to preserve this heritage.

The exhibition will present material from local private and public collections and comprise; artworks, architectural drawings, contemporary and historic photographs, ephemera, objects, and oral histories documentaries.

On the Sunshine Coast the Fibro Coast Public Program will be presented at the Gallery/University and at key locations such as Moffat Beach and Point Arkwright and include talks, guided house tours and a Backyard Film Festival.

A unique part of the project is a local artist intervention that will see projection and installation artists collaborate with beach house owners and community collections and prepare work for the exhibition and public program.

The project identifies the Beach House with some key general characteristics

Beach houses are essentially defined by their relationship to the environment and nature of use. Generally located within walking distance to the surf, the beach house may be large or small; architect designed or craftsman or owner built; erected with reused materials or incorporate the very latest building materials and construction techniques. Its defining characteristic is as operating as a secondary residence.

Following this definition, the project is concerned with the broader themes of;

  1. Leisure and the transitory experience – patterns of relaxation and escape

  2. Memory, time and change – within personal and family experiences and as a urban form

  3. South East Queensland’s subtropical climate and the impact this has had on design and the holiday experience as well as stories around significant climatic events.

  4. The dynamics of close proximity to Brisbane and the contrasting visitor experiences from Interstate and overseas

  5. An architectural and design history that allowed innovation and encouraged personal ingenuity and resourcefulness


  1. 15 February – 30 March 2014, Gold Coast City Gallery

  2. 12 June – 16 August 2014, University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery


This exhibition has been developed by Gold Coast City Gallery in collaboration with the University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery.

This project has been supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland’s Regional Gallery Partnership Program.

Sunshine Coast Council has assisted this project through the Regional Art Development Fund. The Regional Arts Development Fund is a Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Sunshine Coast Council partnership to support local arts and culture.

Project enquiries

Anna Carey, Escape, giclee print edition of 584 x 56cm , 2009