Architecture of Australia

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Australian architecture has generally been consistent with architectural trends in the wider Western world, with some special adaptations to compensate for distinctive Australian climatic and cultural factors. Indigenous Australians produced only semi-permanent structures from readily available material. During Australia's early Western history, it was a collection of British colonies in which architectural styles were strongly influenced by British designs. However, the unique climate of Australia necessitated adaptations, and 20th-century trends reflected the increasing influence of American urban designs and a diversification of the cultural tastes and requirements of an increasingly multicultural Australian society.

Architecture The product and the process of planning, designing and constructing buildings and other structures.

Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

Western world Countries that identify themselves with an originally European shared culture

The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world. It is often correlated with the Northern half of the North-south divide.

Climate of Australia

Australia's climate is governed mostly by its size and by the hot, sinking air of the subtropical high pressure belt. This moves north and south with the seasons. The climate is variable, with frequent droughts lasting several seasons, thought to be caused in part by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Australia has a wide variety of climates due to its large geographical size. The largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid. Only the south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate and moderately fertile soil. The northern part of the country has a tropical climate, varying between tropical rainforests, grasslands and desert.


Notable Australian architectural adaptations include the Queenslander and Federation styles of residential architecture. Iconic Australian designs include the UNESCO listed Sydney Opera House, the Brisbane City Hall, Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building and the 11 remnant penal colony sites selected for World Heritage protection in 2010.

Queenslander (architecture)

Queenslander architecture is a modern term for the typical residential architecture of Queensland, Australia. It is also found in the northern parts of the adjacent state of New South Wales, and shares many traits with architecture in other states of Australia, but is distinct and unique. The form of the typical Queenslander-style residence distinguishes Brisbane's suburbs from other capital cities.

Federation architecture architectural style prevalent in Australia from around 1890 to 1915

Federation architecture is the architectural style in Australia that was prevalent from around 1890 to 1915. The name refers to the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901, when the Australian colonies collectively became the Commonwealth of Australia.

UNESCO Specialised agency of the United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris, France. Its declared purpose is to contribute to promoting international collaboration in education, sciences, and culture in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.


A 19th-century engraving of an indigenous Australian encampment, representing the Indigenous mode of life in the cooler parts of Australia before the arrival of Europeans Native Encampment by Skinner Prout, from Australia (1876, vol II).jpg
A 19th-century engraving of an indigenous Australian encampment, representing the Indigenous mode of life in the cooler parts of Australia before the arrival of Europeans

In the period before European settlement of Australia, there were diverse forms of Indigenous architecture across Australia. The rich architecture traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples generally went unrecognised, and when it was recognised generally downplayed by the European Settlers. [1] However, many early colonists and explorers including Sir Thomas Mitchell and Charles Sturt recorded many indigenous building styles including stone houses and houses grouped in villages. [2] As a British colony, the first European buildings were derivative of the European fashions of the time. As most of the colonialists where from England the first buildings reflected English ideas. [3]

Indigenous architecture

The recent field of Indigenous Architecture refers to the study and practice of architecture of, for and by Indigenous people. It is a field of study and practice in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Arctic area of Sápmi and many other countries where Indigenous people have a built tradition or aspire translate or to have their cultures translated in the built environment. This sometimes has been extended to include landscape architecture and other designs for the built environment.

Thomas Mitchell (explorer) Scottish surveyor and explorer in Australia

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, surveyor and explorer of south-eastern Australia, was born at Grangemouth in Stirlingshire, Scotland. In 1827 he took up an appointment as Assistant Surveyor General of New South Wales. The following year he became Surveyor General and remained in this position until his death. Mitchell was knighted in 1839 for his contribution to the surveying of Australia.

Charles Sturt Australian explorer

Captain Charles Napier Sturt was a British explorer of Australia, and part of the European exploration of Australia. He led several expeditions into the interior of the continent, starting from both Sydney and later from Adelaide. His expeditions traced several of the westward-flowing rivers, establishing that they all merged into the Murray River. He was searching to prove his own passionately held belief that there was an "inland sea" at the centre of the continent.

Georgian architecture is seen in early government buildings and the homes of the wealthy. The architect Francis Greenway, who appears on the Australian ten-dollar note designed early buildings in the Georgian style. Examples include the Hyde Park Barracks, St James' Church and St Matthews Church at Windsor. [3]

Georgian architecture set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840

Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830. The style was revived in the late 19th century in the United States as Colonial Revival architecture and in the early 20th century in Great Britain as Neo-Georgian architecture; in both it is also called Georgian Revival architecture. In the United States the term "Georgian" is generally used to describe all buildings from the period, regardless of style; in Britain it is generally restricted to buildings that are "architectural in intention", and have stylistic characteristics that are typical of the period, though that covers a wide range.

Francis Greenway architect

Francis Howard Greenway was an English-born architect who was transported to Australia as a convict for the crime of forgery. In New South Wales he worked for the Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, as Australia's first government architect. He became widely known and admired for his work displayed in buildings such as St Matthew's Church in Windsor, New South Wales, St James' Church, Sydney and Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney.

Australian ten-dollar note Australian banknote

The Australian ten-dollar note was issued when the currency was changed from the Australian pound to the Australian dollar on 14 February 1966; it replaced the £5 note which included the same blue colouration. There have been four different issues of this denomination, a paper banknote, a commemorative hipolymer note to celebrate the bicentennial of Australian settlement, the 1993-2017 polymer note, and from September 2017 a polymer note featuring a transparent window.

Another European style to gain favour in 19th century Australia, particularly in churches, was Gothic Revival architecture. Pointed arches, turrets, battlements and gothic ornaments could also be found on bank, insurance offices, university buildings and homes. [3] One of the best examples of this style can be seen at the lower end of Collins Street in Melbourne.

Gothic Revival architecture Architectural movement

Gothic Revival is an architectural movement popular in the Western world that began in the late 1740s in England. Its momentum grew in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, hood moulds and label stops.

Collins Street, Melbourne street in Melbourne

Collins Street is a major street in the centre of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. It was laid out in the first survey of Melbourne, the original 1837 Hoddle Grid, and soon became the most desired address in the city. Collins Street was named after Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania David Collins who led a group of settlers in establishing a short-lived settlement at Sorrento in 1803.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 2,080 km2 (800 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

With the Australian gold rushes of the mid-19th-century major buildings, largely in Melbourne and Sydney and to a lesser extent in regional capitals such as Ballarat and Bendigo were built in the style of Victorian architecture.[ citation needed ] From about 1850 to 1893 Italianate architecture was also popular as it allowed greater displays of prosperity through rich and ornate decorate features such as cast iron lace work and slate roofs. [3] Towards the end of the century the style was pushed to an extreme by some architects. Buildings became over-burdened with excess columns, balustrades, exaggerated entrances and other lavish decorations. Medley Hall in Carlton is an example of this style which became known as the Boom Style from 1880 to 1893. [3]

Australian gold rushes

During the Australian gold rushes, significant numbers of workers relocated to areas in which gold had been discovered. A number of gold finds occurred in Australia prior to 1851, but only the gold found from 1851 onwards created gold rushes. This is mainly because, prior to 1851, the colonial government of New South Wales had suppressed news of gold finds which it believed would reduce the workforce and destabilise the economy.

Sydney Metropolis in Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

Victorian architecture series of architectural revival styles

Victorian architecture is a series of architectural revival styles in the mid-to-late 19th century. Victorian refers to the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), called the Victorian era, during which period the styles known as Victorian were used in construction. However, many elements of what is typically termed "Victorian" architecture did not become popular until later in Victoria's reign. The styles often included interpretations and eclectic revivals of historic styles. The name represents the British and French custom of naming architectural styles for a reigning monarch. Within this naming and classification scheme, it followed Georgian architecture and later Regency architecture, and was succeeded by Edwardian architecture.

One of the most significant architectural movements in Australian architecture was the Federation architecture style of the turn of the 20th century, where Australia began to play with the idea of a "style of our own", and the modern styles of the late 20th century which sought to reject historicism.

Walter Burley Griffin was an American architect and landscape architect who, with fellow architect Marion Mahony Griffin, played a key role in designing Canberra, Australia's capital city. A legacy of their unique architecture remains in a small number of Melbourne buildings and the Sydney suburb of Castlecrag. Castlecrag was planned by the Griffins and also features a number of houses designed in the organic Modernist style they developed after the Prairie School architecture that marked his earlier career in the United States. The simple, flat-roofed cottages that the Griffins designed in Canberra used their innovative, patented techniques for concrete construction.

One of the most important local introduction to Australian architecture was the verandah. [3] As pastoralists took up land and built solid, single story dwellings the addition of verandahs proved popular as they provided shade and looked attractive. They were often integrated into the symmetry of Georgian style homes. [3]

Like elsewhere in the world, socio-political factors have played their roles in shaping Australian architecture. During the early 20th century, cities across Australia had placed building height limits, typically 150 feet (45 m), thus hampering the development of American-style skyscrapers until the limits were lifted in the late 1950s. Likewise the popular notion of the "Australian Dream", in which families seek to own their free-standing houses with backyards, meant that high-density housings were rare in Australia until the end of the 20th century. The design of housing in Australia after World War II, which was mostly undertaken by builders, has been described as poor aesthetically and environmentally. [4]

Significant concern was raised during the 1960s, with green bans and heritage concerns responding to the destruction of earlier buildings and the skyscraper boom, particularly in Sydney. Green bans helped to protect historic 18th-century buildings in The Rocks from being demolished to make way for office towers, and prevented the Royal Botanic Gardens from being turned into a carpark for the Sydney Opera House. In Melbourne a battle was fought to preserve historic Carlton, Victoria from slum reclamation for public housing, while gentrification played a big part in the suburb's salvation.

In the 21st century, many Australian architects have taken a more Avant-garde approach to design, and many buildings have emerged that are truly unique and reflective of Australia's culture and values. As a result, many Australian practices are beginning to expand their influence overseas rather than the reverse which was often the case. Melbourne is seen as the city at the forefront of design ideas. Sydney is focusing on the humanist approach tending towards minimalism and architecture in Queensland is interested in outdoor rooms and the filtering of light. [4]

Australian architectural styles

Internationally, the Sydney Opera House is the most recognised symbol of Sydney Sydney Opera House Sails.jpg
Internationally, the Sydney Opera House is the most recognised symbol of Sydney

Architectural styles have been basically exotic and derivative. Only recently have climate and environment played a major role.

During the 19th century, Australian architects were inspired by developments in England. From the 1930s on, North American and International influences started to appear.

Buildings were often heavily influenced by the origins of their patrons, hence while the British would like to be reminded of their Gothic churches and Tudoresque cottages of a perfect England, the Dutch, German, Polish, Greek, Italian and other nationalities would also attempt to recreate the architecture of their homelands.




Australian architects

Fraction of over 15 year olds with a qualification in architecture or building by Statistical Local Area as of the 2011 Australian Census Australian Census 2011 demographic map - Australia by SLA - BCP field 6235 Persons Architecture and Building Total.svg
Fraction of over 15 year olds with a qualification in architecture or building by Statistical Local Area as of the 2011 Australian Census

Significant architects include:

Significant firms include:

Notable structures

Sydney Harbour Bridge Sydney Harbour Bridge evening view from Luna Park.jpg
Sydney Harbour Bridge

There are many notable structures, of particular importance are:

See also

Related Research Articles

Walter Burley Griffin American architect and landscape architect

Walter Burley Griffin was an American architect and landscape architect. He is known for designing Canberra, Australia's capital city. He has been credited with the development of the L-shaped floor plan, the carport and an innovative use of reinforced concrete.

Harry Seidler Australian architect

Harry Seidler, AC OBE was an Austrian-born Australian architect who is considered to be one of the leading exponents of Modernism's methodology in Australia and the first architect to fully express the principles of the Bauhaus in Australia.

Castlecrag, New South Wales Suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Castlecrag is a suburb on the lower North Shore of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia 8 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Willoughby.

Marion Mahony Griffin American architect and artist

Marion Mahony Griffin was an American architect and artist. She was one of the first licensed female architects in the world, and is considered an original member of the Prairie School. Her work in the United States developed and expanded the American Prairie School. Her work in India and Australia reflected Prairie School ideals of indigenous landscape and materials in the newly formed democracies. The scholar Deborah Wood has stated that Griffin "did the drawings people think when they think Frank Lloyd Wright ." During her career, she produced some of the best architectural drawing in America and was instrumental in envisioning the design plans for then new capital city of Australia, Canberra.

Australian architectural styles

Australian architectural styles, like the revivalist trends which dominated Europe for centuries, have been primarily derivative.

Harry and Penelope Seidler House

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Architecture of Sydney

The Architecture of Sydney, Australia’s oldest city, is not characterised by any one architectural style, but by an extensive juxtaposition of old and new architecture over the city's 200-year history, from its modest beginnings with local materials and lack of international funding to its present-day modernity with an expansive skyline of high rises and skyscrapers.

Alex Popov (architect) Australian architect

Alexander Popov is an Australian architect working in the Late 20th Century Modern style.

Australian residential architectural styles

Australian residential architectural styles have evolved significantly over time, from the early days of structures made from relatively cheap and imported corrugated iron to more sophisticated styles borrowed from other countries, such as the Victorian style from the United Kingdom, the Georgian style from North America and Europe and the Californian bungalow from the United States. A common feature of the Australian home is the use of fencing in front gardens, also common in both the UK and the USA.

Australian non-residential architectural styles are a set of Australian architectural styles that apply to buildings used for purposes other than residence and have been around only since the first colonial government buildings of early European settlement of Australia in 1788.

Professor James Weirick is an Australian academic who is the Director of the Master of Urban Development and Design (MUDD) program at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia.

Architecture of Melbourne

The architecture of Melbourne, the second most populous city in Australia, is characterised by an extensive juxtaposition of old and new architecture. The city is noted for preserving a significant amount of Victorian architecture and has some of the largest in the country. Additionally, it features a vast array of modern architecture, with around 60 skyscrapers over 100 m in the city centre which have deliberately been set back from thoroughfares and streets to preserve historic architecture—leading to the title of "Australia's most European city".

The National Capital Authority (NCA) is a body of the Australian Government that was established to manage the Commonwealth's interest in the planning and development of Canberra as the capital city of Australia.

Walter Burley Griffin Lodge historic house in New South Wales

The Walter Burley Griffin Lodge is a heritage-listed former residence, holiday house and weekender and now residence located at 32 Plateau Road, Avalon Beach, Northern Beaches Council, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Walter Burley Griffin and built from 1933 to 1934. It is also known as Burley Griffin Lodge or Stella James House. The property is owned by the New South Wales branch of the National Trust of Australia. The property was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 1 March 2002.

Walter Burley Griffin Incinerator, Willoughby incinerator in Willoughby, Sydney, Australia

The Walter Burley Griffin Incinerator is a heritage-listed former incinerator and now art gallery, artists studios and public recreation area at 2 Small Street, Willoughby, City of Willoughby, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed in partnership between Walter Burley Griffin and Eric Nicholls and built from 1933 to 1934 by Reverberatory Incinerator and Engineering Company and Nisson Leonard-Kanevsky. It is also known as Willoughby Municipal Incinerator. The property is owned by the Willoughby City Council. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

<i>Duncan House, Castlecrag</i>

Duncan House is a heritage-listed residence located at 8 The Barbette, Castlecrag, City of Willoughby, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Walter Burley Griffin. It is also known as Duncan House Number 2. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

Fishwick House

The Fishwick House is a heritage-listed private residence located at 15 The Citadel, Castlecrag, City of Willoughby, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin and built during 1929. It is also known as The Fishwick House and Fyshwick House. The property is privately owned. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 15 December 2006.

Buhrich House II

Buhrich House II is a heritage-listed residence located at 375 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag, City of Willoughby, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Hugh Buhrich and built during 1972. The property is privately by members of the Buhrich family. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 25 May 2001.

<i>The Glass House, Castlecrag</i>

The Glass House is a heritage-listed domestic dwelling located at 80 The Bulwark, Castlecrag, City of Willoughby, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Bill Lucas. It is also known as Glasshouse; Bill Lucas House. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 21 October 2016.

Torin Building

Torin Building is a heritage-listed former factory and now factory and office space located at 26 Coombes Drive in the western Sydney suburb of Penrith in the City of Penrith local government area of New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Marcel Breuer and built from 1975 to 1976. It is also known as the Former Torin Corporation Building and Breuer Building. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 15 May 2009.


  1. 1947-, Pascoe, Bruce,. Dark emu : black seeds agriculture or accident?. Broome, W.A. ISBN   9781922142436. OCLC   863984459.
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