Melbourne’s Architectural Styles: How Many Do You Know?

Rohan Calder
November 19, 2018

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DIRECTOR, AUCTIONEER, LICENSED ESTATE AGENT

Melbourne is full of beautiful homes to suit a range of personal styles, with influences from different eras and trends making for diverse options for your next home. But when it comes to architecture, how well do you know your Victorian from your Art Deco, or modernist from post-war? Take a look at our guide to architectural styles and find out which designs are most popular in Melbourne’s East.

Colonial

Australia’s Colonial period of architecture was commonly used for homesteads in the early days of British settlement, which coincided with the Georgian style popular in England at the time. Many remaining Colonial dwellings in Melbourne are now heritage-listed, with examples in Knox Council including Ambleside Park Homestead in Ferntree Gully, Millers Homestead in Boronia and Stamford Park Homestead in Roseville.

The Colonial style is often characterised by:

  • Symmetrical facades with the main entry in the centre
  • Doors on the sides of the home
  • A hipped roof
  • A large verandah that wraps around the whole house

Victorian

Built during Queen Victoria’s reign in the late nineteenth century, Victorian homes are common in Australian capital cities and especially so in the streets of Melbourne’s inner fringe. The rows of beautiful terraces that Melbourne is known for are typical of Victorian style, but it’s also not uncommon to see freestanding Victorian homes a little further from the CBD.

A mix of workers’ cottages and ornate elegance, Victorian homes can commonly be identified by:

  • Brick or rendered exteriors
  • Intricate cast iron facades and verandahs
  • Slate or corrugated iron roofs
  • Timber windows
  • Embellished ceilings and skirting boards

Edwardian and Federation

While technically two distinct styles, Edwardian and Federation share a very similar aesthetic that means they’re often referenced together. Built just after the Victorian era, these homes are similarly intricate and lavish, but call to mind Old English Tudor styles that are a little less opulent.

Key features of Edwardian and Federation homes include:

  • Red brick or weatherboard exteriors
  • Steep pitched roofs
  • Elaborate verandahs integrated into the roof
  • Pointed roofs with asymmetric designs
  • Terracotta chimney pots
  • Leadlight windows with timber frames
  • High ceilings
  • Australian motifs, like kangaroos and emus

California bungalow

American influences on Australia in the ‘20s extended to architecture when California bungalow-style homes became more popular. These properties looked much different from their predecessors, with lower roofs being a notable difference.

The California bungalow style often includes:

  • Low-pitched roofs that are sloping or triangular
  • Verandah supported by large columns
  • Open-plan layouts
  • Backyards and driveways
  • Brick exteriors
  • Bay or double-hung windows

As the city was starting to spread at this time, California bungalows are common within 10kms and 20kms from the city, so they’re often found across the East, like in this home we’re currently selling in Mitcham. Thomas Street in Mitcham is also a central point for this style, with a heritage overlay protecting its California bungalow houses.

Art Deco

Art Deco architecture was popularised between the two World Wars, with strong influences from Germany and France. There was a real desire at the time to create something completely different from the country’s previous homes, so Art Deco architects used different materials and shapes to create forward-thinking designs.

Art Deco homes typically include:

  • Rounded edges and square or “solid” designs
  • White and cream, instead of darker colours
  • Weatherboard or brick exteriors
  • Hipped roofs and terracotta tiles
  • Enclosed balconies instead of verandahs
  • Wood panelling and glass brick walls

Art Deco is more commonly seen in apartment blocks now, with many present in Melbourne’s inner suburbs.

Post-war

As the name suggests, post-war homes were built after World War II, when housing demand surged as soldiers returned and the Baby Booms began. The result is a simple design made of affordable, readily available materials. This style extended into the brick veneer homes of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

  • Double- or triple-fronted designs, usually single-storey
  • Hipped roofs with concrete tiles
  • Sliding windows
  • Large block of land
  • Materials like cement and wrought iron
  • Linoleum flooring, or later timber flooring

This is one of the typical styles for Mitcham, Blackburn and Wantirna as development really took off in these suburbs after the war.

Mid-Century and Modernist

Hailing from the ‘50s and ‘60s, modernist architecture was quite unusual at the time, with flat exterior surfaces and floor-to-ceiling windows. The style aims for simplicity, but can also be very striking.

Modernist typically has the following features:

  • Open plan
  • Full-length windows, often extending across the front of the house
  • Low, flat roofs
  • Sleek, clean lines
  • Brown and cream bricks, or vertical weatherboards

Modernist homes can regularly be found across Blackburn, Mitcham, Wantirna and surrounds.

Contemporary homes

The majority of Melbourne homes are more recently built and can include the typical brick veneer project homes from the 1970s to today.

If you’re looking for a home with a particular kind of architectural pedigree get in touch with our team today.

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