The Californian Bungalow (1920s and 30s)
The bungalow was the most popular form of housing in Australia in the twentieth century. The Californian Bungalow was amongst the earliest of the twentieth century bungalow styles. This earthy and unpretentious style was based on a distinctive type of rustic, Japanese-influenced single storey detached house which developed in the Los Angeles suburbs to become the standard unit of US west coast suburbia by the outbreak of World War I. The Californian Bungalow was imported to Australia in 1916 by an Australian Real Estate Agent who assembled it for a show held in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery. For many Australians, Hollywood provided a glossy image of an American way of life and California was seen as a model for what Australia might one day become. California and south-eastern Australia had certain similarities of climate, topography and vegetation (the eucalypt being an Australian ‘export’ to California). There was also a historical parallel with simultaneous discoveries of gold in the mid- nineteenth century boosting the development of both regions. By the early 1920s, speculative builders had embraced the style, and it proliferated until the Great Crash of 1929. The virtually standardised Australian version of the style was usually built in brick rather than in timber, and it featured a range of chunky carpentry details applied to houses which in other respects were not greatly different from those of the preceding decade. It underwent regional adaptations with the Sydney version built in local liver-coloured brick.
- Simple rectangular house plan
- Visually dominant, low-pitched spreading roof, with wide overhanging eaves
- Exposed rafters and barge-boarded gables facing the street.
- Bargeboards are visually prominent but plain, often with raked edges to accentuate the sweep of the roof. Simple designs of strap-work, shingling and ventilators are common end gable in-fills.
- Walls of dark red or purplish, liver-coloured face brick
- Occasionally walls are pebbledash though pebbledash accents are more common, for example, on heavy tapered masonry verandah pylons or as in-fills on low veranda walls.
- External timber joinery is generally plain, compared with Federation decoration, and painted
- Window frames, often mounted on the outside face of the wall, sometimes have skirts of shingles or boards.
- Deep shady verandah under a low pitched or flat roof that is supported by substantial masonry piers, sometimes with squat colonettes or grouped timber posts
- Rusticated sandstone is frequently used in foundations
- Clinker brick chimneys. Clinker bricks are partially vitrified brick stones. In early brick firing kilns, the surface of the bricks that were too close to the fire changed into the volcanic textures and darker/purplish colours. They were often discarded, but around 1900, these bricks were discovered by architects to be usable, distinctive and charming in architectural detailing, adding an earthy quality
- A separate garage, typically for a single car, began to appear to the side and behind the house in the backyard.
- Post and wire fences replaced the timber picket fences associated with the former Victorian and Federation styles.
Californian Bungalow in Paradise Avenue Roseville, built in the 1920s