Discover ‘Purpose Built’ Timber Exhibit at Qld State Library

The new exhibition underpins important role of communities in Queensland housing trends

Fri 08 Sep 23


The transformative potential of architectural design and its pivotal role in shaping communities and shifting housing perspectives today is displayed at the Queensland State Library in Brisbane.

The ‘purpose-built’ exhibition is a joint initiative of the library and the University of Queensland.

From digital and material innovations to water-sensitive design, new approaches to housing typologies and the vital role of community involvement in design and planning conversations, this exhibition proposes a future with a purposeful approach to the built environment.

Purpose-built is an immersive exhibition of large-scale installations developed with research groups from the University of Queensland’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning.

As a committed member of the State Library Foundation, I was a guest of the exhibition launch recently.

We were greatly enthused by a guided walk through the theming, especially the recognition through built and artistic devices of the raw architectural material … wood.

The sequence of old photographs from the harvesting of hoop pine forest to the panorama of a spotted gum plantation grown with the help of treated sewerage offered patrons an insightful history lesson.

The exhibition was also a collaboration between the State Library and the University of Queensland’s architecture and engineering groups, specifically the Advanced Timber Hub, with associate professor Joe Gattas and senior lecturer and Brisbane architect Kim Baker providing the forestry/wood component.

We have noted collaboration in Wood Central between the Salisbury Research Facility (Forest Products) group Dr Robbie McGavin, Bill Leggate and UQ staff.

In my complimentary note to State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald and Public Libraries and Engagement executive director Louise Denoon, I added that the energy for growing trees and forests and the production of wood (carbon capture) comes from the photons of the sun.

Trees can thus provide us with a diverse range of goods and services in perpetuity when professionally and sustainably managed. Perhaps in due course this further aspect can be themed for public exhibition by your talented State Library designers collaborating with sylvan scientists.

The Brisbane Public Library was established by the government of the Colony of Queensland in 1896 and was renamed the Public Library of Queensland in 1898. The library was opened in 1902.

In 1934, the Oxley Memorial Library (now the John Oxley Library), named for explorer John Oxley, opened as a centre for research and study relating specifically to Queensland.

The Libraries Act of 1943 established the Library Board of Queensland to manage the Public Library of Queensland.

Three years later, under the terms of the Oxley Memorial Library of Queensland Act, it also took over management of the Oxley Memorial Library.

In 1971, the “Public Library” became the “State Library.”

The following year, the Public Library Service was established to liaise with Queensland local authorities regarding their public libraries; a subsidy for employing qualified staff in public libraries was also established.

A few years later, the Country Lending Service was established to provide book exchange and other services to public libraries in Queensland’s smaller local government areas.

Under the new name of Rural Libraries Queensland, the service is still going strong today, administered by the State Library’s Public and Indigenous Library Services program.

In 2003, the State Library began a new mission of establishing Indigenous Knowledge Centres in the Cape York and Torres Strait areas.

There is now a network of 22 such centres in remote and regional communities across Cape York, the islands of the Torres Strait, Central Queensland, and a Cherbourg in southeast Queensland.


  • Dr Gary Bacon

    Dr Gary Bacon, AM, BSc (For) Hon, PhD, FIFA, respected professional forester. Adjunct Professor at Griffith University and former CEO Queensland Forestry.


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