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What makes up a Victorian style of architecture in Australia?

Victorian style architecture, characterized by ornate details and grandeur, is an important part of Australia's architectural heritage. It emerged in the mid-19th century during the reign of Queen Victoria and continued to be popular until the early 20th century. In this blog post, we will explore the three main mini-Victorian periods and the design elements typical in each.



A series of Victorian style terrace residences
City terraces in the the Victorian architectural style


The First Mini-Victorian Period (1850-1860s)

The first mini-Victorian period in Australia, also known as the Early Victorian period, occurred from the 1850s to the 1860s. During this period, many buildings were constructed in the Gothic Revival style, which was inspired by medieval architecture. This style was popular in Australia due to the influence of the Church of England, which was a dominant force in the country at the time.


One of the defining features of Gothic Revival architecture is the use of pointed arches, which can be seen in many of the buildings constructed during this period. Other typical features of this style include ornate stone carvings, stained glass windows, and steeply pitched roofs. Many of these buildings were constructed using locally quarried sandstone, which was abundant in the Sydney region.


Examples of Early Victorian architecture in Australia include St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, which was completed in 1868. This impressive building features Gothic Revival details such as pointed arches and flying buttresses. Another example is the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, which was completed in 1856. This building features a distinctive octagonal reading room with a domed ceiling.


The Second Mini-Victorian Period (1870s-1890s)

The second mini-Victorian period in Australia, also known as the High Victorian period, occurred from the 1870s to the 1890s. During this period, the economy was booming, and many Australians were becoming wealthy. As a result, there was a greater demand for luxurious homes and public buildings.


One of the defining features of High Victorian architecture is the use of richly decorated facades. Buildings from this period often feature intricate details such as mouldings, brackets, and corbels. Another typical feature is the use of cast iron and wrought iron in balconies, verandas, and fences.


Examples of High Victorian architecture in Australia include the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, which was completed in 1880. This building features a grand dome and intricate details such as ironwork and ornate carvings. Another example is the Hotel Windsor in Melbourne, which was completed in 1883. This luxurious hotel features a grand entrance and ornate details such as balconies and verandas.


The Third Mini-Victorian Period (1890s-1910s)

The third mini-Victorian period in Australia, also known as the Late Victorian period, occurred from the 1890s to the 1910s. During this period, there was a shift away from the ornate and decorative styles of the High Victorian period towards a simpler and more restrained aesthetic.


One of the defining features of Late Victorian architecture is the use of red brick and terracotta. This material was cheaper than sandstone and allowed builders to construct larger buildings more efficiently. Another typical feature is the use of Queen Anne and Federation styles, which were characterized by the use of turrets, gables, and bay windows.


Examples of Late Victorian architecture in Australia include the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, which was completed in 1898. This building features a grand dome and a distinctive clock tower. Another example is the Parliament House in Melbourne, which was completed in 1901. This building features a grand entrance and ornate details such as a portico and balcony.


Conclusion


Victorian style architecture played a significant role in developing the cityscapes of Australian capital suburbs and are still very popular in today's real estate markets. They work beautifully when keeping the interiors true to the style's core elements or mixing it up by creating more modern interiors alongside the traditional architectural features.



 

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