Remembering Pioneer QLD Architect Through Scott Street Flats in Kangaroo Point

The heritage-listed Scott Street Flats in Kangaroo Point continues to bring character to the suburb as it transforms to be a part of modern development. The historic building not only catches the eye but its story also captures the hearts of many as it is one of the works of Queensland’s pioneer woman architect, Elina Mottram.

Explore the beginnings of Scott Street Flats and uncover its role in paving the way for women to enter into the professions in Queensland, especially the architectural profession.

Elina Mottram

Photo credit: Queensland Board of Architects/Wikimedia Commons

Elina Mottram is the first woman to open her very own architectural practice in Brisbane in 1924. She was also Queensland’s first and longest practising woman architect.

Born in 1903, she was an only child of building contractor Arthur Mottram. Her father’s profession likely played a significant role in encouraging her to become an architect.

Mottram is considered to be the most successful of Queensland’s early women architects. This is probably because, out of nine pioneering women architects in Queensland who practised before WWII, she was the only one who pursued her architectural career during her entire working life.

Only two of Mottram’s work remains in Brisbane. These are the Scott Street Flats in Kangaroo Point and Monkton in Corinda.

Scott Street Flats Then

Professor Francis William Sutton Cumbrae-Stewart. (Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 183361)

Mottram designed the purpose-built Scott Street Flats for Professor and Mrs Cumbrae-Stewart.

At the time, the number of new flats constructed in Brisbane grew steadily from the early to mid-1920s. The decision to build the Scott Street Flats around 1925 was an enterprising move for Mrs Cumbrae-Stewart. The building served as an investment whilst providing a convenient home for her and her husband in their later years.

The Cumbrae-Stewarts moved to the flats, which became known as “Scott House” in 1930. When Professor Cumbrae-Stewart retired in 1936, the couple relocated to Melbourne where Mrs Cumbrae-Stewart was born.

Photo credit: Shiftchange/Wikimedia Commons

The Scott Street Flats is a great example of early purpose-designed flats. It helps in illustrating the interwar preference for Old English or Tudor Revival as well as Spanish or Mediterranean design themes.

The introduction of purpose-designed flats offered a range of new domestic features which can be observed in the Scott Street Flats. The two-storey building contains two flats, each occupying a full floor with identical floorplans.

Mottram strategically designed the flats to enable back-of-house movement between bathroom, kitchen, laundry, and maid’s room whilst maintaining formal living spaces and bedrooms that offer stunning views of the city and the Brisbane River.  

Scott Street Flats Now

Photo credit: Google Street View

The heritage building is now incorporated into the new Walan Apartments at Scott Street, Kangaroo Point. Aiming to preserve and promote the important work of Mottram, the developers retained the original flats and changed its use.

The Scott Street Flats now serves as a communal space with facilities for all of the building occupiers to use. According to the developers of Walan, the integration of the historic building for its new use at the site can positively impact the long term conservation of the heritage place.