Before the terrible financial crash of 1891, Australian homes were most likely to be built in classical, Victorian taste. The houses were symmetrical, built from locally quarried stone, had gently sloping roofs and classical proportions in the handling of doors and windows. If the family made money after the gold rush ended, the home would have two storeys; otherwise it would be a single storey cottage. Inside was one main passage from front door to the back kitchen, with compartmentalised rooms off that passage.
symmetrical, bullnosed corrugated iron veranda
The Victorian home was made thoroughly Australian by the addition of a tiled veranda on two of the four sides, with wrought iron poles and lacework on the veranda. Slate was chosen for the main roof, and galvanised corrugated iron covered the veranda.
After WW1 ended, hundreds of thousands of ex-servicemen wanted to marry and settle their children on free-standing suburban blocks of land. They wanted a small home that a] they could afford and b] did not need staff to help maintain the inside or out. No space was wasted on a passage, but vegetable plots and chicken coops in the garden were considered important. The Californian Bungalow: Australia's Favourite Interwar Home, was perfectly adapted for Australian suburbs.
But what happened architecturally in Australian cities and towns in between, from 1895-1914?
This period was not flush with gold rush wealth, but it was a time of: Federation excitement (before and after January 1901), the development of national identity and of maturity in the brand new century. Railways had extended from the centre of each state capital city to the most distant suburbs, making it sensible for families to build away from the bustle and dirt of the inner cities. As I discussed in an early post, the passion for planned Garden Cities and suburbs, so beloved in London and the Home Counties, was perfectly suited for Australian families.
Very large Federation home in South Yarra,
with steep roof lines, low tower and conical top, half timbered gables, red bricks.
Edwardian domestic architecture from Britain emerged in Australia during the 1890s. Gently sloping roofs, bluestone building material, wrought iron pillars and lacework all disappeared. Symmetry was considered outdated. Instead what emerged was Federation-Edwardian-Queen Anne taste that popularised red bricks; low towers with conical tops; steep, complex and non-symmetrical roofs; multiple gables with half timber decoration in them; timber posts and fancy timber brackets; and prominent and narrow brick chimneys with terracotta pots on top.
Sydney Daily Photo blog mentioned extra defining features in a post called Series: Local Domestic Architecture Part 3: Federation: tuck-pointed brick work, leadlight and stained or glass windows, and red Marseilles-style terracotta tiles. The colours changed from pale Victorian options to Brunswick green and deep Indian red. Images of the rising sun or of Australian flora and fauna represented a new pride in national identity.
Federation home in Ivanhoe.
Note Brunswick green colour, terracotta roof tiles, timber decorative elements. dormer windows matching the gables
Inside, Federation homes were somewhat more open planned than earlier homes had been. They often had built-in furniture, bay windows with casement window openings, veranda space for outdoor living, simple use of materials and timber panelling.
Federation living room, timber panelling, open planned rooms
Arts and Crafts homes were also built during the 1895-1914 era but they were not quite as popular as Queen Anne. What differentiated the Arts and Crafts homes was a concern for comfort and for honest expression of function.
Entire suburbs, newly developed after 1900, emerged with Federation homes and public buildings. They were often centred around the newly built railway station, Federation pub and Federation fire station. Federation Details blog in Federation Queen Anne style and Sydney Eye blog in Federation detailing are visually delightful sites. They suggest we examine the development of Federation homes in Burwood, Haberfield, Rozelle and Strathfield. Now I wonder why all the blogs I that located and cited have been Sydney-based, not Melbourne-based.
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