We put Aussie architecture under the microscope to see which styles are the most liveable for the 21st century.
Federation terrace, workers’ cottage or art deco apartment? If you’re in the market for a traditional or heritage-listed Aussie home, it’s good to know the pros and cons of living with different architectural styles.
Designed to withstand flooding, heat and pests, the Queenslander is one of Australia’s most enduring home styles. Dating from the 1840s, Queenslanders are still being built which goes to show how practical many of its features remain today.
Found throughout Queensland and northern NSW, it’s the Queenslander heritage areas that give the suburbs of Brisbane a streetscape unlike any other Australian capital.
Victorian homes were built when the Australian economy, and building industry, were booming. Workers’ cottages of the 1860s are simple brick or rendered buildings with very little decoration inside and out. As the gold rush took hold, designs became fancier, with wrought iron terraces, patterned brickwork and stucco facades outside plus moulded ceilings, bold colours and stained glass within.
A change of monarch and Federation brought in a new era in Australian architecture from around 1895 to 1910. Keeping many of the ornate features of the Victorian period, Federation homes became even grander in scale and design, making the most of the big blocks available as the cities began to sprawl.
Like their Victorian forerunners, Federation houses are most often seen around the inner suburbs of major cities but there are many to be found in regional Australia too.
With its roots in the sunny climate and casual culture of California, a new open-plan style of living arrived in Australia around 1915. Usually built in brick, the layout spreads out from the main entrance hall; large bay windows and a chunky brick verandah are common features.
Offering a simpler floor plan and less decoration, this new style of home quickly began to fill the streets in the outer, 10-20km radius around Australian cities.
Between the two world wars, Australia embraced Art Deco, a much simpler building style, using more graphic and less organic shapes. A more solid, practical approach to construction, with closed in balconies rather than verandahs, Art Deco buildings still offer some charming details in glass brick walls, wood panelling, ceiling moulds and stained glass.
Inner city apartments built close to transport links for workers are some of the most common examples of the Art Deco style. Many of these blocks can be found in the harbourside suburbs of Sydney and the inner suburbs or Melbourne and Adelaide.
Post-war brick veneer
Demand for housing in the post-war years was huge, thanks to the baby boom and immigration. Simple brick veneer homes were built in their thousands. Among the first homes to include garages or carports, they were also built using mass produced materials, including the dreaded asbestos.
Much more generic than many of the other styles we’ve mentioned here, these mostly single-storey homes can be found all over Australia.
What sort of Australian home are you hoping to buy? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.