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Arts and Crafts

What to look for in an Arts and Crafts building:

 

  • Clarity of form and structure,

  • a variety of materials, asymmetry,

  • Traditional construction and Craftsmanship.​

Arts and Crafts style Houses in Australia


Arts and Crafts architects created some of the most thoughtful, beautifully crafted and inspired architecture in Australia's history.

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The Arts and Crafts movement - emerging in the 1880s and 1890s - brought a breath of fresh air to Australian design.

  • A sense of innovation and understanding of the values of simplicity, harmony and unity permeated both architecture and the allied arts and crafts.

  • As its name implies, the Arts and Crafts style was concerned with the integration of art into everyday life through the medium of craftsmanship.
     

The Arts and Crafts movement is often recognized as the first international modern architectural movement. With each country having different names and versions of this style, Arts and Crafts thrived equally in Europe, Britain, the United States and Australia. 
 

  • When Arts and Crafts emerged in Australia in the late 19th century, the country was ripe for change. Not only were Australians coming out of the 1890s depression, but in 1901 the Australian colonies were federated, making Australia its own commonwealth.

  • The country was looking for its own quintessential style that was less austere than the British architecture of the past and more about function, comfort and showing off the beauty of raw materials. 

Between 1890 and 1930, a number of Australian architects and garden designers were heavily influenced by British and American Arts and Crafts movements.  

Above: Glyn, Toorak VIC, designed by Rodney Alsop

  • Their Arts and Crafts buildings are unpretentious and informal, evoking an atmosphere of comfortable familiarity.

  • There is a strong flavour of morality, with stress on the truthful use of materials and the honest expression of function.

  • In Australia, Federation Arts and Crafts architecture exhibits qualities similar to those of the overseas models from which it drew inspiration.

  • Buildings in this style are domestic in scale and make free use of traditional (usually English) vernacular motifs to achieve an unassuming, homely, well-established character.

  • Designers aimed for informality in planning, massing, fenestration and landscaping.

 
Characteristics of the Arts and Crafts style
  • The roof is a dominant element, featuring gables (with barges or parapets) and/or hips of medium to steep pitch and prominent eaves.

  • Tall, tapering chimneys, rough-cast wall-buttresses and bay windows are characteristic elements of the style.
    Pebbledash stucco or roughcast was commonly used as an exterior wall finish, together with other materials having earthy, ‘natural’ colours and textures.

  • Interiors frequently display timber panelling and sturdy ceiling beams.

  • Touches of Art Nouveau detail are common, both externally and internally.

Many Arts and Crafts homes share these traits:

  • enveloping rooflines, deep eaves. exposed rafter ends

  • roughcast (battered) gables and verandah columns with over-scaled verandah brackets,

  • surfaces covered with pebble-cast, and shingles 

  • tall tapered chimneys, often built as (external) buttresses, 

  • Structural “authenticity: exposed beams, strong posts, rafters that extend past the roof line

  • Simplicity: open floor plans with built-ins, smooth surfaces, lack of intricate carving

  • Native materials: wood (especially oak), locally sourced stone, stucco, brick

  • Natural influences: earth tones, attention to wood grain, decorative items made of shell or bone

  • The hand of the artist: hand hammered metals, handmade tile, embracing of imperfections

  • Emphasis on home life: dim, homey, glowing interiors, prominent fireplaces, art glass to soften light

 

Arts and Crafts Architecture

Arts and Crafts architecture developed in the same time-frame as Federation style, and just as Queen Anne style claims most of the early innovations in domestic housing, Arts and Crafts style informed the architecture of the later, grander houses built after the 'boom' period.

  • Noted historian Harriet Edquist positions Arts and Crafts as the central tradition of turn of the century Australian domestic architecture, and 'Federation style' as the speculative and ultimately unproductive result of the 1880s Queen Anne and Old English domestic revivals.

 

Above: Peter Crone outside his beloved Desbrowe-Annear home, Chadwick House in Eaglemont

Arts and Crafts architecture in Australia

From: The art and craft of living by JENNY BROWN Domain NOV 8, 2010


“Quite unique. Wonderful” descriptions are an understatement when it comes to describing Arts and Crafts houses in any respect.

 

Above: Desbrowe-Annear residence, Eaglemont, Heidelberg VIC

  • They resulted from an aesthetic movement – born initially in Britain in the late 1800s but a movement that found expression in many Western countries – as a reaction against the mass production of the industrial era.

  • It was a return to craft and the aesthetic of the hand-made item that was chosen for beauty and made to last.

  • The artisan ethos is evident in everything to do with Arts and Crafts. From the choice of materials; wood, brass, leadlight, lathe plaster, stippled walls containing plastered lumps of coal, turned joinery in organic shapes, to the merest details such as brass latches, hinges and catches."

Above: Chadwick House verandah, Eaglemont, Heidelberg VIC

"Arts and Crafts houses in Victoria are relatively rare. “We’ve lost a few,” says Tracey Avery, conservation co-ordinator with the National Trust. 

  • “Comparatively few were built in Australia.

  • In Victoria, they were built in the country, in the Western District, and in the wealthier suburbs of Toorak, Parkville, East Melbourne, Caulfield and eastern suburbs.”

  • There are five in Heidelberg.

  • The best local Arts and Crafts properties were by Annear, Robert Haddon and Walter Butler.

  • The houses concentrate in the 19th century red-brick wealth belts because all the fine detail made them expensive to construct, she says. “They rarely come up on the open market and are so special, they are hard to value.”

  • As real estate they are actually in such an exceptional category that she is happy to use the words “priceless” and “irreplaceable”. And for that, Ms Avery can’t emphasise enough that they are housing stock that should be so valued by their owners that they are treated with kid-gloves."

 

Above: Mawallock, Beaufort, Vic 1908 by Rodney Alsop

Arts and Crafts Houses

"Scott Patterson, director of Jellis Craig Hawthorn, says (Federation) Arts and Crafts houses often preside in the centre of overly large blocks that are hard to subdivide. He sold one, set on an enormous site this year in Canterbury for more than $2.7 million.

  • “Magnificent. Beautiful proportions and with rooms that flowed into each other,” he says.

  • Mr Patterson says all period houses in the inner suburbs are popular but Arts and Crafts are especially prized and are easily in the $2-$3 million category “depending on land size”.
     

    • Homes of this Federation style were built generally in pockets of Melbourne, around Toorak, Kew, Malvern, Armadale and Camberwell,
      in areas of Sydney like the eastern suburbs, the North Shore and the Blue Mountains, and in a few neighbourhoods in Canberra and Brisbane.

    • Many were torn down 20 years ago in the push for brand new homes by buyers who never truly understood their value and importance in pioneering modernism, says Edquist, but a number have been carefully restored, and often heritage-listed to protect them forever. They come up on the market, however, only rarely. " 

    • Further to being enchantingly attractive, these antique homes embody some of the pioneering principals of sustainable building. “They’re also about good sustainable architecture,” says Ms Avery. “They used local materials and local craftsmen. They didn’t import mass-produced items.”

Arts and Crafts Architects

"Some of the best-known architects of the arts and crafts movement in Australia include Walter ButlerHarold Desbrowe-AnnearWalter Liberty VersonRobin DodsHorbury Hunt, Robert Haddon and Rodney Alsop.

Arts and Crafts architecture was most developed in Melbourne, spearheaded by architects Walter ButlerHarold Desbrowe-Annear and Guyon Puchas.

Early Arts and Crafts Houses in Australia

  1. 1882 Fairwater, 560 New South Head Rd, Point Piper NSW - Architect John Horbury Hunt

  2. 1888 Pibrac, Pibrac Avenue, Warrawee - Architect John Horbury Hunt

  3. 1891 Mount Alverna, Burns Road, Wahroonga - designed by renowned local architect Richard George Howard Joseland

  4. 1896 Shirvington's Mosman Mansion

Arts and Crafts Shingle style
  1. 1886 Glen Alpine. Werris Creek (destroyed 2014)

  2. 1890-1893 Highlands Wahroonga, NSW

  3. 1892-1893 Hollowforth, 146 Kurraba Road, Kurraba Point, NSW  - Architect E. Jeaffreson Jackson

 

20th Century Arts and Crafts Designs:
  1. 1905 Fairhaven Kirribilli - Architect James Peddle

  2. 1906 Clayfield House 8 London Road CLAYFIELD, QLD

  3. 1908 Crossways - Centennial Park - Architect B.J. Waterhouse of Waterhouse & Lake.

  4. 1908 Glyn House, 224 Kooyong Rd, Toorak - Architect Rodney Alsop

  5. 1909 Waimea 42-44 Waimea Avenue Sandy Bay, TAS 7005

  6. 1913 Eaton House Thorngate SA - Architect Kenneth Milne

  7. 1913 Rowardennan, Warrawee NSW - Architect B.J. Waterhouse

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