Academic Theory:
What is 'Federation Style'?

First suggested in 1969 as uniquely Australian and dubbed Federation Style by David Saunders and Bernard Smith;

see David Saunders, ‘Domestic Styles of Australia's Federation Period: Queen Anne and the Balcony Style’, Architecture in Australia (A), 58 (August 1969), p. 662,

and Bernard Smith, ‘Architecture in Australia’, Historical Studies (A), 14 (October 1969), pp. 90–1.

 

Neither Saunders nor Smith fully argue the issue of stylistic autonomy.

See also Bernard Smith and Kate Smith, The Architectural Character of Glebe, Sydney, Sydney 1973, pp. 107–9.

legacies-of-bernard-smith-cover1.jpg

Read more: 

George Tibbits,

The So-Called Melbourne Domestic Queen Anne

HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT, VOL 2, NO 2, 1982 page 6


"The problem today is to find a new name to replace the term Queen Anne; and thereby liberate this distinctly Australian style both from the pejorative connotations ascribed to it by sisrey and the others, and remove the suggestion, through its name,that there is nothing more to be discussed than its derivation from English architecture, and by implication, its inferior status as a colonial style.

The debate over the name has not been resolved. (in 1982) 

Three new names have been suggested:

  1. the Federation style

  2. the Edwardian style. and

  3. the Bungalow style.

 

  • Federation style is an inspired suggestion and it was persuasively argued for by Professor Bernard Smith. It is now more than a decade since he proposed the name, but in that time an understanding has been gained of the variety of architectural work in the period between the 1880s and the First World War. 

    • Professor Smith's term now seems better reserved in its plural to refer to all the styles being cultivated around Federation, and be used in a national sense' so that the intractable Melbourne Queen Anne style becomes just one of a number of styles and one associated principally with only one state at the time of Fecleration.

  • The use of Edwardian style or Edwardian house frequently appears in real estate advertisements for the larger Queen Anne houses.

    • As with Federation, Edwardian is a broad term (and English rather than Australian) which should encompass all the styles of the period rather than be a term referring only to a particular type of large house.

 

  • The third term, Bungalow style, or Federation Bungalow, is somewhat limited in its application and does not encompass all that the term Queen Anne imprecisely suggests.

Contemporary descriptions refer to many of these houses as villas or residences, but seldom as bungalows, as Mr Martin Mills was aware when he got his teeth into the style.

The term bungalow was perhaps used more often in Sydney than in Melbourne. Notwithstanding these points, it is an admirable term to use when referring to one group of examples, the spreading single storey picturesque villas by Ussher and later by Ussher and Kemp, and their contemporaries."

 

"Only time will satisfactorily resolve this debate and Melbourne Queen Anne will continue to be used.

Indeed, arguing from the principles of the ICOMOS Burra Charter, the name has strong historical claims, and, like original paint colours, it ought to be protected!"

 

The Federation Style 

Bernard Smith, Art Historian: The Architectural Character of Glebe, Sydney, 1973 University of Sydney

Chapter 7, page 107:

'Queen Anne' or 'Federation'?

The style which replaced the Italianate in Australia is often called the Queen Anne because of its connection with the Queen Anne revival initiated by the architects W E Nesfield and Norman Shaw in England during the 1860s and 1870s.

"Queen Anne' is an unsatisfactory label for the results of their innovations - and it is even more misleading when applied to the Australian Style which flourished between 1895 and 1915.

Certainly the new style did possess some links with Wren's England, such as its partiality for red bricks and terracotta ornaments.

But it received influences from other places, from the South of France, for example, in the use of the Marseilles tile, and from contemporary north American architecture, in the prominence given to the distribution of the roof, balconies and verandahs in relation to the total design. 

 

Furthermore, the style developed in response to the local scene (both socially and architecturally) at a time when  many architects were interested in the possibility of an Australian style of architecture. Some of their discussion affected local practice. 

Decorative details, for example, in terracotta, plaster, ceramic tiles, and coloured glass, were occasionally given a national character. 

It seems, therefore unwise to persist with the label 'Queen Anne' in order to describe the style.

Here, we shall call it instead, Federation Style.

  • Firstly, because it was a style that flourished throughout Australia from Fremantle to Bondi during the years immediately before the federation of the Australian colonies into the Australian Commonwealth in 1901.

  • Secondly, because it developed a character that is unique to Australia and deserves therefore an Australian name.

Federation Style leading characteristics: 

  • It is a style pre-eminently of terracotta roofing tiles and exposed bricks of a deeper red. 

    • The use of bricks of various shades of red in a wall is a common feature of the style, but the contrasts are usually more subtle than the strident contrasts introduced by the structural polychromists of High Victorian times.​

  • Carved, fretted or turned wood, usually painted white, replaces cast iron on balconies and verandahs. When Iron is used, as it frequently is in conjunction with brick or stone for fencing, it is wrought, not cast.

  • The roof is broken into many divisions, and these often reflect the disposition of the rooms beneath.​

  • Flying gables are used in profusion, with shingles, ornamental half-timbering and rough-cast work appearing beneath gables and eaves. 

  • Coloured glass is often used in windows, and in the lights of doors and door cases.

  • Coloured ceramic tiles frequently appear between windows, under sills, and in the risers of steps.

  • The chimneys of exposed brick, are tall and avoid classical mouldings, making use of oversailing courses to produce collars and heads.

    • They are often plastered, all or in part, with rough-cast, and are invariably capped with pots. ​

  • Windows ​take many forms, straight, segmented, or round-headed, but they are usually narrower in proportion to Italianate windows. 

 

The general effect is one of irregularity in planning and massing, and variety in texture and colour.

The Federation style makes its appearance in Glebe in fairly pure forms around 1893, though elements of the new style are to be found... from 1890 onwards.

 
Hartford 244-Glebe-Point-Road-GLEBE-1.jpg

Wikipedia: Federation period

c. 1890 – c. 1915

Main article: Federation architecture

The Edwardian style was named after King Edward (1901–1910) at the time, and was the predominant style in the United Kingdom and its colonies.

The style draws on elements of the Victorian era and the earlier Queen Anne style of the early 18th century.

The Edwardian style coincided with the Federation of Australia. Thus, the Federation style was, broadly speaking, the Australian version of the Edwardian, but differed from the Edwardian in the use of Australian motifs, like kangaroos, the rising sun (of Federation), and emus, Australian flora and geometric designs.

Some of the most recognisable Federation/Edwardian features include red brick exteriors with embellished wood detail known as fretwork.

  • Cream painted decorative timber features, tall chimneys were all common.

  • Stained glass windows towards the front of the home became increasingly popular during this period.

  • Internally, Victorian-era features were still evident, including plaster ceiling roses and cornices and timber skirting and architraves.

  • Federation style depicted a Tudor type look, especially on gables, and Edwardian gave a simpler cottage look.

  • Terracotta tiles or galvanised iron are generally used for roofing, which is designed with a steep pitch.

  • The gable ends and roof eaves often feature ornate timber brackets, and timber detailing and fretwork are a common inclusion on verandahs.[10]

 

Some consider that this style was the Federation version of the Queen Anne style.

 

Other styles during this period were

Federation Academic Classical,

Federation Free Classical,

Federation Filligree,

Federation Anglo-Dutch,

Federation Romanesque,

Federation Gothic,

Federation Carpenter Gothic,

Federation Warehouse,

Federation Free Style

Federation Arts and Crafts and 

Federation Bungalow.

 

These names all indicate very similar styles with features so minute separating them.

Out of the twelve Federation styles, however, only the following four were normally used in residential architecture:

Federation Queen Anne

Federation Arts and Crafts

Federation Bungalow

Federation Filigree

 
 

Stonnington City  Federation House Study: Methodology

3.1 Definition of ‘Federation House’

For the purposes of the Study a ‘Federation House’ is a building constructed as a dwelling, in the period between c1890 and c1918. This definition is consistent with that adopted in the 2014 Stage 1 Study and the 2015 Gap Survey.

The Victorian Houses Study considered buildings constructed during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901).

While the definitions used in this project and the Victorian Houses Study creates an overlap of approximately 10 years (c1890-c1900), this Study specifically considers those buildings that demonstrate architectural characteristics of the Federation period, including the influences from the Arts and Crafts, Queen Anne and Bungalow styles.

 

3.2 Stonnington Federation Architecture Overview

Federation architecture emerged in the late 1880s in Australia and remained the dominant architectural style in the country for almost twenty years. In Victoria, a distinctive architectural domestic style emerged, which contrasted with the existing Victorian-era dwellings of preceding decades in character, form, materials and detailing.

Federation houses constructed throughout this period were typically of red brick with terracotta roof tiling and roof decoration. They often had timber verandah detailing and half-timbered, roughcast rendered or shingled gable-ends.

By drawing on contemporary English and American architectural sources, and responding to a range of overseas trends in this period, three broad domestic styles emerged in Victoria

- the Federation Queen Anne,

Federation Arts and Crafts, and

Federation Bungalow styles.

These styles share some common characteristics, but also have some strong individual traits.

It should be noted that during this more experimental architectural phase that characteristics of the three broad domestic styles were sometimes brought together to create unusual and creative compositions.

Federation Queen Anne

The distinctive Federation Queen Anne style dominated domestic architecture in Victoria during the decades immediately before and after 1900, and was applied to both large and modest dwellings by architects and builders.

Houses were designed in a picturesque manner with asymmetrical forms, dominant and complex roofs with multiple hips and gables, conical towers, dormer windows and tall chimneys.

They typically incorporated diagonally projecting corner bays with surrounding verandahs, a variety of bay window forms and multi-paned windows with sashes of decorative coloured glass.

 

Federation Arts and Craft

At a similar time, a distinctive and diverse Federation Arts and Crafts style flourished in Victoria using similar materials in picturesque compositions, but in an unpretentious and informal manner, and often using innovative planning.

The style was based on ideas of functionalism, the honest use of materials and the integration of the work of artisans and craftspeople into a total design.

High quality craftwork was consciously incorporated into the designs, and elements and decorative motifs with no historical precedent were introduced, such as Art Nouveau-inspired detailing.

A number of well-known architects designed houses in this style including Walter Butler, Rodney Alsop, Robert Haddon, Guyon Purchas and Harold Desbrowe-Annear.

 

Federation Bungalow

The Federation Bungalow style emerged slightly later and peaked in the 1910s in Victoria. With origins in the British Arts and Crafts movement and early twentieth century American bungalow design, this simple, honest and unpretentious style strove to cast off the picturesque complexities of the Federation Queen Anne style.

Houses were characterised by simple massing and roof forms, deep verandahs, wide eaves and dominant dormers or balconies in first floor roof spaces.

Large areas of the City of Stonnington were developing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and this resulted in the construction of vast numbers of Federation style houses in the municipality, particularly in suburbs such as Malvern, Malvern East and Glen Iris.

A large variety of designs were adopted, most typically Federation Queen Anne in character.

The modern Federation styles were also adopted in the design of new houses in well-established suburbs within the City of Stonnington in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both in wealthy suburbs such as Toorak and Armadale and the adjoining suburbs of South Yarra and Prahran.

 

3.3 Defining a ‘Locally Significant’ Heritage Threshold

The project brief defined the scope of the Study as being to:

 

  1. review a list of 104 (later revised to 101) pre-identified Federation places to determine whether they have individual heritage significance; and

  2. prepare individual heritage citations for each place identified as having heritage significance and warranting individual heritage protection in the Stonnington Planning Scheme.

Under ‘Heritage Strategy Background’ the project brief identified that ‘it is intended that all of the A1 graded and many A2 graded buildings that are not currently subject to heritage controls will be considered in future studies’.

Council’s current (as at 4 September 2017) Heritage Policy (Clause 22.04) defines the gradings as follows:

 

A1 Buildings - are of national or state importance, irreplaceable parts of Australia’s built form heritage.

A2 Buildings - are of regional or metropolitan significance, and stand as important milestones in the architectural development of the metropolis.

B Buildings - make an architectural and historic contribution that is important within the local area.

C Buildings - are either reasonably intact representatives of particular periods or styles, or they have been substantially altered but stand in a row or street that retains much of its original character and are considered to have amenity or streetscape value.

It is noted that the A1 and A2 gradings above are somewhat inconsistent with the PPN1, which defines ‘Local Significance’ as follows:

‘Local Significance’ includes those places that are important to a particular community or locality.

The PPN1 definition is more consistent with that of ‘B Buildings’ in Council’s current Heritage Policy, while the A1 and A2 definitions relate to places that are of local and higher (regional & state-level) significance.

As a result, A1, A2 and B graded buildings can all be considered to meet the ‘Local Significance’ threshold as defined by PPN1.

It is noted that Council has recently adopted Planning Scheme Amendment C132 (currently awaiting Ministerial approval), which seeks to amend Council’s Heritage Policy at Clause 22.04 of the Stonnington Planning Scheme.

The Amendment seeks – in part – to introduce a definition for ‘significant’ heritage places as follows: ‘Significant places’ means places of either state or local significance including individually listed buildings and places in a heritage precinct graded A1, A2 or B.

 

For this Study, Council has confirmed that the threshold to be applied when considering the heritage significance of places subject to investigation is ‘Significant places’ as per proposed Clause 22.04 and ‘Local Significance’ as per PPN1.

Therefore, places considered as part of the Study were required to satisfy the following pre-conditions to be recommended for inclusion in the Heritage Overlay of the Stonnington Planning Scheme:

1. They must have been constructed in the Federation period (c1890-c1918)

2. They must satisfy one or more of the HERCON criteria at the local level (i.e. at the suburb or municipality level) (see Appendix 2 for the criteria)

3. They must be:

a) a particularly well-resolved example of architectural expression and form from the Federation period, displaying high quality detailing and/or finishes that are equal to – or better than – other places of a similar typology; and/or

b) an unusual or rare but well-resolved example of architectural expression or form from the Federation period; and/or

c) designed by a noted or well-known architect

4. They must be intact (as evident from the street).

 

3.4 Fieldwork

The fieldwork comprised site inspections and photographic documentation of all 101 places in the Stage 1 list provided by Council, as seen from the street.

The site visits identified the integrity and current condition of each place. The properties were also inspected from the street (and via recent aerial photos where necessary) for additional elements such as outbuildings, fences or trees that potentially contributed to the significance of the place.

Any visible alterations and extensions that potentially altered the intactness when compared to the original design was also noted.  

Some residences were not completely visible from the public domain.

Only the roof forms of 659 Orrong Road, Toorak, and 34 Huntingtower Road, Armadale (officially known as 32 Huntingtower Road, Armadale, as of 25 October 2017), were visible from the street.

There was also limited visibility of the houses at 2A Somers Avenue, Malvern; 47-49 Huntingtower Road, Armadale; 6 Monaro Road, Kooyong; 35 Rockley Road, South Yarra; and 36 Lansell Road, Toorak.

 

Access to these places was requested by Council to ensure an accurate physical analysis could be completed. Access was granted by the owners of 2A Somers Avenue, Malvern; 34 Huntingtower Road, Armadale (officially known as 32 Huntingtower Road, Armadale, as of 25 October 2017); 47-49 Huntingtower Road, Armadale; and 6 Monaro Road, Kooyong and site inspections were completed.

For places where access was not granted, recommendations have been made based on evidence provided by detailed historic research, existing photographs from previous studies and real estate listings, recent aerial views and permit application information provided by Council. While conducting the fieldwork, one additional individual place of potential heritage significance was identified for further assessment –

221 Burke Road, Glen Iris, designed by prominent architect Robert Haddon.

Fieldwork on Finch Street, Glen Iris, also identified the potential for a heritage precinct in the vicinity of Wattletree Road. Council supported the detailed assessment of both the individual place and the precinct during Stage 3.

 

3.5 Historical Research

A range of primary and secondary sources were consulted as part of the historical research. The aim of the historical research has been to determine:

 The built date of each residence (to confirm that places fall within the Federation period, c1890- c1918)

 The owner of the place when built

 A builder or architect where possible

 Whether the place had any significant associations with events or people

 The development of the place

 The current level of intactness compared to the original design

 The historical theme(s) the place is connected to.

 

The Stonnington History Centre was an invaluable resource during this research, providing access to historic information for the municipality. The History Centre provided historical photos, early architectural drawings, access to ‘streets files’, some former Council records (often communication between former owners and Council), and municipal rate books and valuation records.

Key sources reviewed were:

 Previous studies, for existing documentation:

o Nigel Lewis & Richard Aitken (1992), City of Malvern Heritage Study

o Laceworks Landscape Collaborative (1988), Malvern City Urban Character Study

o Nigel Lewis & Associates (1983), City of Prahran Conservation Study

o John Curtis Pty Ltd (1991), Toorak Residential Character Study

o Context Pty Ltd (1993), City of Prahran Conservation Review

o Context Pty Ltd (2006 & 2009 addendum), Stonnington Thematic Environmental History

 Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Detail Plans, Base Maps and individual Property Service Plans where available

 Municipal rate books

 Municipal valuation records

 Auction plans for estates and subdivisions 7

 State Library of Victoria online picture and map collection

 Miles Lewis’ Australian Architectural Index & Melbourne Mansions Database

 Certificates of Title

 Sands & McDougall directories

 Key histories by local historians

 Trove digitised newspapers, pictures and photos collection

 Building and planning permit records, provided by Council (later dates only).

A thematic contextual history was prepared where places were found to be historically associated with a particular theme. One thematic history was prepared for 41 Perth Street, Prahran, which historically served as an urban dairy depot. In addition, locality histories were compiled to provide a historic context for each place within the development of the area.

 

3.6 Thematic representation

Research and assessment determined that the places within the Study represent one or more of the following key historic themes, as drawn from the Stonnington Thematic Environmental History (Context 2006 & 2009 addendum):

 

6 Developing the Victorian & National Economy

 6.1 Working the land

o 6.1.3 Dairying 8 Building Suburbs

 8.1 Creating Australia’s most prestigious suburb

o 8.1.3 The end of an era – mansion estate subdivisions in the twentieth century

 8.2 Middle-class suburbs and the suburban ideal

 8.4 Creating Australia’s most ‘designed’ suburbs

o 8.4.3 Architects and their houses

 8.6 Developing higher density living. The themes associated with each place are identified in the individual citations (see Volume 2).

 

3.7 Comparative Analysis

3.7.1 Stage 2 In order to determine whether a place should be recommended for detailed assessment in Stage 3, a preliminary comparative analysis was undertaken during Stage 2 of the Study.

 

The Federation period saw substantial residential development in the municipality and, as a result, a large number of intact, quality examples of Federation houses remain from the period. A substantial number of these places are already included in the Heritage Overlay of the Stonnington Planning Scheme on a precinct-basis, with various gradings applied.

 

A number of Federation houses graded A2 within existing precincts were identified for the purposes of initial comparison. These were:

 Address                                 Heritage Overlay                Grading

25 Glassford Street, Armadale HO130 Armadale Precinct   A2

3-5 Munro Street, Armadale     HO130 Armadale Precinct   A2

8 Munro Street, Armadale        HO130 Armadale Precinct   A2

15 Munro Street, Armadale      HO130 Armadale Precinct   A2

20 Munro Street, Armadale      HO130 Armadale Precinct   A2

8 Northcote Road, Armadale   HO130 Armadale Precinct   A2

11 Royal Crescent, Armadale  HO130 Armadale Precinct   A2

91 Finch Street, Malvern East  HO133 Gascoigne Estate   A2

3 Kingston Street, Malvern East HO133 Gascoigne Estate A2

21 Kingston Street, Malvern East HO133 Gascoigne Estate A2

 

A smaller number of Federation houses are included in the Heritage Overlay on an individual basis, but form an important basis for comparison.

 

These properties are: Address Heritage Overlay Grading

Darnlee, 33 Lansell Road, Toorak HO69 VHR H1204 A1

Thurla, 1 Avalon Road, Armadale HO4 Not stated

23 Douglas Street, Toorak HO307 A2

177 Kooyong Road, Toorak HO482 A2

179 Kooyong Road, Toorak HO483 A2

181 Kooyong Road, Toorak HO484 A2

63 Albany Road, Toorak HO485 A2

 

3.7.2 Stage 3

 

During Stage 3, a detailed comparative analysis was undertaken for each place to establish its context within the municipality and its significance threshold.

Places were compared in terms of their level of integrity, architectural detail and the quality of expression of a particular Federation-period architectural style.

In some cases, they were also compared in terms of their identified architect. Places were compared against others within this Study, and to stylistically similar places currently protected by a Heritage Overlay in the Stonnington Planning Scheme on an individual basis. 

 

- from City of Stonnington Federation Houses Study Stage 3 Report
Volume 1: Background and Recommendations 4 September 2017 (amended 31 October 2017) 

 

http://www.stonnington.vic.gov.au/files/assets/public/vision/strategic-planning/planning-scheme-amendments/c269-amp-c270-documents/federation-houses-study-stage-3-volume-1-september-2017.pdf

Criticism of the City of Stonnington Federation Houses Study

 

The City of Stonnington Federation Houses Study is to an extent a misnomer in that it is neither a comprehensive nor analytically justifiable study of ‘Federation Houses’ located within the City of Stonnington. Instead it is limited to ‘analysis’ of 101 selected properties.

These properties have several things in common as follows:

• they are not located in existing heritage overlay areas,

• they are residential,

• they date from between c1890 and c1918 and

• they demonstrate the characteristics of the ‘Federation Period’

 

Expert Witness Statement to Planning Panels Victoria Stonnington Amendment C270 trethowan architecture interiors heritage 2

 

They were then analysed against a somewhat vague method of analysis to establish their purported significance within the overall context of the City. [07]

  1. The first and perhaps the most important shortcoming of the Study was that it omits analysis of ‘Federation Houses’ that are located within existing heritage overlay areas.
    Many of the ‘Federation Houses’ located within these areas could be regarded as having individual significance in the context of the pre-conditions defining the threshold of local significance outlined in Study’s methodology and all of these houses would contribute to an understanding of this particular building type/style.
    The fact that all of the ‘Federation Houses’ within heritage overlay areas have been omitted from the Study means that the Study is not comprehensive across the total City and leaves the reader with the anomaly that the Study’s considerations haven’t been applied to the total municipality. [08]
     

  2. The further shortcoming of the Study is the possibility that a house constructed between c1890 and c1918 that does not demonstrate either the characteristics of a ‘Victorian House’ or a ‘Federation House‘ has been omitted from any form of consideration.
    This leaves us with the somewhat depressing situation that the whole period has to be revisited again to ascertain what houses have, so to speak, fallen through the net, because they have not complied with the style definitions of what a ‘Federation House’ is despite the fact that they were constructed within the stipulated period. [09]
     

  3. The division of the ‘Federation House’ into three styles is the Study’s initial analysis.
    Using style as the initial basis to assess the building stock at hand is acceptable and the shortcomings of doing so are set out at the end of the first paragraph of Section 3.2 of Volume 1.

    The nominated three styles appear to be lifted from Apperley which has its limitations in that Apperley had no detailed appreciation of Melbourne domestic architecture and limited the dates of each of the nominated styles, Federation Queen Anne, Federation Arts and Crafts and Federation Bungalow to c1915.

    Apperley defines the period after c1915 as Interwar, leaving the last three years of the nominated study period in that distinctly grey zone of neither Federation or Interwar.

    John Clare in his study of the ‘The post-federation house in Melbourne: bungalow and vernacular revival styles 1900-1930’, a study that takes in the Bungalow and Vernacular Revival styles from 1900 until 1930 provides a better stylistic analysis of the domestic architecture, particularly as it applies to the City of Stonnington, for the period from 1908 until 1918.

    He identified styles such as the ‘Craftsman House’, ‘Chicago School’, the ‘Cross-Ridged Attic villa’ and the ‘Projecting Balcony’. Many early and important examples of these styles were to be found in the City of Stonnington.

    It would perhaps have been more helpful if the Study’s very limited stylistic analysis was extended to include these later and decidedly post Federation styles.

    In addition, as style is very much a visual appreciation, it would have been helpful to have an illustrated selection of demonstrative examples of each of the identified styles included within the text of Section 3.2 to allow the reader to better understand how the identified characteristics of each style were combined to produce what could be regarded as typical demonstrative examples and thereby be guided into the first stage of the process of comparative analysis. [10]
     

  4. As an additional step in this analysis process the Study does not seek to identify the various residential types that comprise each stylistic category.
    or instance, the mansion house, the villa, the cottage, the duplex, flats.

    The identification and categorisation of these types across all the built examples under consideration would have assisted the reader understanding how many examples belonged to each category and would have contributed to the analytical process.

    Such an approach would also have eliminated the need for a villa to be compared to a mansion house as is the case in several of the individual building citations. [11]

    The pre-conditions defining the threshold of local significance are acceptable and infer a form of typological analysis in order to differentiate aspects of ‘architectural expression and form’ and ‘high quality detailing and /or finishes’ and whether an individual example is ‘unusual or rare but well resolved’.

    Sadly the Study does not follow through with any demonstrative analysis of what these terms precisely mean or the reason for how a particular example can be justified as rare or unusual.
    This would best be undertaken by a typological analysis of each identified style, looking at the essential elements that constitute the building moving from a general analysis of form and composition, to an analysis of important individual elements such as
    ​candle snuffer towers,
    veranda posts and valences,
    front fences, gable ends, low towers,
    bay windows and chimneys.
    Individual decorative motifs, such as
         timber fretwork,
         ridge cappings and finials and
         lead light glass,
    could also be assessed typologically.

     

  5. Finally, garden design and planting associated with individual dwellings could also be identified. It is disappointing that an analytical approach such as this has not been adopted with such a broad ranging and important study as the City of Stonnington Federation House Study.
    Such an analysis would not only provide a justifiable means to identify a particular example as representative or unusual but also allow at some future date for a separate, perhaps overlooked, example of Federation house architecture to be assessed and appropriately analysed.
     

  6. A further matter for criticism is how architect designed houses were analysed as part of the Study.
    Architect designed buildings form a special category when dealing with any building type. They are generally a step ahead of more utilitarian buildings and often incorporate special departures from the norm both in terms of composition and the design of individual elements.
    It is noted that the Study’s pre-conditions were limited to only ‘noted or well known’ architects. This is in my view a little unfair.

    I think all work designed by architects should be considered however only selected examples should be considered as having individual significance at a local level.

    The Study did identify certain architects who designed in particular styles, however from an analytical perspective I think the issue of architect designed houses was not researched fully.
    Identified architect designed houses dating from within the Study period should have been listed and illustrated under each architect’s name.

    From that list, a number of examples should have been selected that were considered to be important or representative examples both within that architect’s oeuvre and within the works surviving in the City of Stonnington.
     

  7. In addition, demolished architect designed houses within the City should have also been listed and illustrated. The preparation of such a list would provide for future additions, for instance interwar examples, to be added to each architect’s work and further enable the understanding of the City’s architectural heritage.

    Sadly, the Study does not appear to have provided such an important data base and no analysis of architect designed Federation houses was provided as part of the Volume 1 report. [13]
    Without a detailed and comprehensive analysis demonstrating detailed understanding of the existing built fabric of ‘Federation’ houses across the whole of the City of Stonnington, terms such as ‘representative’ and ‘significant’ cannot be justified.

    The 17 selected addresses of examples selected for initial comparison are insufficient in number to make a confident assessment of the importance or otherwise of the buildings that formed part of the Study.
    In addition, a review of a selection of the individual heritage citations indicates that importance is based on terms such as ‘carefully designed’. ‘well resolved’, ‘well considered’ and ‘carefully detailed’.
    I am uncertain as to what these terms exactly mean. [14]

    In summary the City of Stonnington Federation Houses Study is lacking.

  8. It is not a comprehensive study of Federation houses across the City.

  9. It is lacking in a sound analysis of the building type.

  10. It is lacking in meaningful terminology to define the local signifance of individual buildings recommended for inclusion with individual heritage overlay areas.

    Expert Witness Statement to Planning Panels Victoria Stonnington Amendment C270
    trethowan architecture interiors heritage 

 

The Quest for an Australian Style

Extract from: Australian Architecture 1901-51: Sources of Modernism

  • Johnson, Donald Leslie

  • University of Sydney Library

  • Pages 15-17

The period before 1914, therefore, is best described as a time when there was a search for a new or Australian architecture and when aberrant attempts at a non-traditional architecture, conducted by a mere handful of architects, were attempted by a softening of customary styles with stark, simplified presentations.

Some of the more interesting work was by the Brisbane architect, Robin S. Dods. He was born in New Zealand, educated in Brisbane and Switzerland, and was articled in Edinburgh and received some training in art. He practised in London until 1896 when he returned to Australia.

From 1896 to 1913 he practised in Brisbane, where he ‘built up the premier business of the Northern State’,(16) with R. Hall.

A contemporary of his remarked that Dods found the value ‘of simplicity and reticence in the designing of small structures’.(17) In 1913 he moved to Sydney and there continued practice until his death in 1920.

His residential work in Queensland was, in isolated cases, a development of the traditional vernacular post or stump architecture to an elegant, simple statement rich with undulating ornamentation and repetitive detail.

 

Yet, there were no successors to Dods' fragile, inventive moment.

Dods was aware of contemporary British design(18) for he worked with Aston Webb and became a member of the Arts and Crafts Society in London.

But other than fragmentary incidents in his design development, he was an eclectic.

Most of his work was characterized by Georgian or Edwardian designs, particularly in Sydney.

Exceptions were some rather fine Romanesque revival designs such as the Geelong Church of England Grammar School, awarded first in a 1911 competition.(19)

Dods' work tended to exemplify the period.

 

Generally speaking, work other than of historical modes was extremely difficult to conceive. It was, after all, an age of tired and overworked—if exuberant—eclecticism.

And it is within this understanding that we must consider the period about the turn of the century.

 

  • In Australia it was a time of search;

  • in North America a time of pragmatic resolve;

  • in Europe a beginning of the avant-garde and internationalism.

  • In retrospect, it was the death throes of historicism.

 

Revivals were still in chaos and one indicator was Queen Anne. Revived in the 1870s by the English architect Norman Shaw and others,

  • it tenaciously held the architect's attention.

  • It was a design that appealed to the waning taste for high Victorian styles.

  • It was a design carefree in interpretation collecting elements that might be piled on the building by fascination and whim.

Yet, Queen Anne had order, symmetry and, most assuredly, it was domestic as the more classical Edwardian (if one might so call the result) was commercial.

 

Each sector of the English-speaking world which used Queen Anne developed peculiar idiosyncrasies.

  • For Australia it was a squat, red, often saw-tooth roofed house with white trim.

  • Because it was born in revivalism and nurtured in eclecticism, it had a certain viability.

  • For the architect there was some freedom, some laxity in organizing forms and motifs.

  • The same argument might be offered for many of the styles of this period, but it seems especially reasonable for Queen Anne and, later, for the Spanish Colonial, a popular revival in the 1920s.

  • Except in exceptional instances, the Queen Anne Style and other revivals suffered the transitional years badly.

  • Laxity was indeed a key word to the chaotic result.

  • Perhaps the Style might be called something else (20) but it can never escape its most fundamental historical and architectural aspect: it was English (in fact urban London and country estate) in origin and development.

  • In Sydney or Melbourne or Adelaide it was Australian Queen Anne.

    • It had uniquely Australian characteristics based on historical precedents.(21)

    • Because of its historical base there were limitations to its adaptability.

    • It was not able to accept reduction to simple planes and volumes.

    • There were elemental and idealistic theories other than Queen Anne where the resultant architecture proved to be highly adaptable.