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AHS analyses iconic Queens Plaza façade


AHS has unearthed the original colour scheme for the former David Jones Building (now Queens Plaza) in Brisbane’s CBD, using our proprietary paint analysis method.

We had formerly completed a Heritage Impact Statement for this building after part of the façade was damaged in 2021.  

A condition of the proposed works was an Historic Paint Analysis, but after the building facade was found to have severe dilapidation, much of the paint had to be removed to assess the extent of the damage.  

This meant that we had to work with an incomplete sample of the surviving paint layers but, thanks to our precise paint analysis methods, we were able to ascertain what we believe to be the original colour scheme. 

Early Finney Isles & Co

The heritage-listed former David Jones building is historically significant as an early 20th century department store, originally built for Finney Isles & Co in multiple stages between 1909 and 1936. 

Finney Isles & Co, operated by Thomas Finney and James Isles, was a major 20th century department store in Brisbane. The building was designed for them by C.W. Chambers with J. Mason was contracted for the build, originally composed of three floors on Adelaide Street and five floors on the Queen Street side. 

The building featured silky oak staircases, lifts with latticed ironwork, display windows on the Queen Street side, and even pneumatic cash handling tubes! Many additions were made throughout the 20th century, but the original colour scheme appeared to feature dark colours with light lettering.  

View of Queens Street estimated to date between 1910 and 1920 (Courier Mall 2019)


Proprietary paint analysis unearths original colour

At AHS, we have refined our proprietary paint analysis methods utilising a mix of historical images, paint samples and microscopic analysis.  

As many as 20 coats of paint can often be applied to buildings that are as old as this one, so microscopic analysis is the only accurate way to distinguish between undercoats, primers and finishing coats. 

We took 10 colour scrape samples from the building’s façade, covering as many undisturbed areas as possible. Each sample was then prepared for microscopic analysis using our proprietary methods. 

Using our system, we are able to establish colour (hues and tones), consistency, thickness, and weathering. After this is done, each identifiable layer is classified into colour categories and labelled with their contemporary AS2700 equivalent.  

In this instance we were able to establish, despite much of the paint being removed prior to our analysis, that the original façade was a Red Oxide (Wash) colour, which we were able to apply to the early historical photos using artificial intelligence recolouring software.  

This is just one of the countless examples of our Historical Paint Analysis in action — a specialty area we are proud to have pioneered here at AHS. 

Reconstructed colour scheme (ed. State Library of Queensland 2022)


Contact us 

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn. 

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The Challenge

The heritage-listed former David Jones building is historically significant as an early 20th century department store, originally built for Finney Isles & Co in multiple stages between 1909 and 1936. 

Finney Isles & Co, operated by Thomas Finney and James Isles, was a major 20th century department store in Brisbane. The building was designed for them by C.W. Chambers with J. Mason was contracted for the build, originally composed of three floors on Adelaide Street and five floors on the Queen Street side. 

The building featured silky oak staircases, lifts with latticed ironwork, display windows on the Queen Street side, and even pneumatic cash handling tubes! Many additions were made throughout the 20th century, but the original colour scheme appeared to feature dark colours with light lettering.  



How we helped

At AHS, we have refined our proprietary paint analysis methods utilising a mix of historical images, paint samples and microscopic analysis.  

As many as 20 coats of paint can often be applied to buildings that are as old as this one, so microscopic analysis is the only accurate way to distinguish between undercoats, primers and finishing coats. 

We took 10 colour scrape samples from the building’s façade, covering as many undisturbed areas as possible. Each sample was then prepared for microscopic analysis using our proprietary methods. 

Using our system, we are able to establish colour (hues and tones), consistency, thickness, and weathering. After this is done, each identifiable layer is classified into colour categories and labelled with their contemporary AS2700 equivalent.  

In this instance we were able to establish, despite much of the paint being removed prior to our analysis, that the original façade was a Red Oxide (Wash) colour, which we were able to apply to the early historical photos using artificial intelligence recolouring software.  

This is just one of the countless examples of our Historical Paint Analysis in action — a specialty area we are proud to have pioneered here at AHS. 

Results

Contact us 

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn. 

You might also like to read:

Case Study

Restoring Brisbane’s iconic Naldham House

Case Study

AHS protects Aboriginal Cultural Heritage across renewable energy sector

Case Study

History of Wynnum Seventh Day Adventist Church unlocked

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Extensive war history unearthed at Milman Hill Complex on Thursday Island

Case Study

AHS ensures cultural preservation of the Mt Coot-tha Kiosk and Lookout, unearthing a rich history at one of Brisbane’s premiere vantage points

Case Study

AHS helps to record and conserve Bega’s network of historic granite kerbs and gutters for our client Bega Valley Shire Council

Case Study

AHS delivered a Conservation Management Plan for the State heritage listed former Cairns Masonic Temple

Case Study

Delivering heritage services including an Archival Recording at the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building

Case Study

Conserving Willard’s Farm, one of the oldest surviving farms and residences within the Redlands on Brisbane’s Bayside

Case Study

AHS projects with Cairns Regional Council include a CMP for Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers

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AHS uncovers a lengthy historical legal challenge while researching the William Mitchner Shelter

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AHS helps visitors experience the history of Cairns Court House

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AHS helps to conserve the Mount Morgan Coronation Lamp and Boer War Memorial

Case Study

Discovering the evolution of Queensland ambulance services at Charters Towers

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AHS helps preserve one of Buderim Mountain’s oldest surviving houses

Case Study

Rediscovering a heritage home’s socialite past in New Farm

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New tourism opportunities for Mount Morgan Railway Station

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AHS advises Rockhampton City Council on maintenance and heritage protection of the iconic Rockhampton Customs House

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