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Old Colonial Georgian 1788—c. 1840
|03 Fort Denison||11 The Hero of Waterloo||15 Old Fort Street School|
|02 Hambledon Cottage||03 St Mathew’s Windsor||04 Elizabeth Farm|
|05 Experiment Farm Cottage||06 Old Government House||07 Rouse Hill House|
|08 Camden Park House||09 Lansdowne Bridge||14 Roseneath Cottage|
Hyde Park Barracks
off Macquarie Street
|06 Former Registry Office|
|32 Macquarie Lighthouse||07 St. Scholastica’s College||09 Tranby|
|The earliest Australian buildings to have any
visual pretensions used a simplified version of the classical style of
British architecture which had evolved during the reigns of the first three
Georges. This urbane, decorous Georgian style was a branch of Renaissance
architecture, which had its roots in imperial Rome; the rediscovered glories
of ancient Greece had yet to become a major influence.
The essence of classical architecture is order; all parts of a building have to harmonise visually with one another as well as with the whole. The most important means of achieving harmony is proportion—the use of simple mathematical ratios to determine, say, the height of a window in relation to its width, or even the shape of a room (the courtroom in Greenway’s Windsor Courthouse [a ‘double cube’). Classical designs usually include one or more of the orders of architecture as well as a panoply of other elements derived from the ancient world. In the eighteenth century the language of classical architecture was extended and codified in printed manuals or ‘pattern books’.
The foundations of English Georgian architecture were laid by Sir Christopher Wren and others towards the end of the seventeenth century. During the next hundred years the style flowed out into the provinces to be the stock-in-trade of competent but less exalted designers. One such was Francis Greenway, who would have remained a little- known architect in Bristol had he not been transported to Australia in 1814, soon to be appointed Civil Architect by the energetic and visionary Governor Lachlan Macquarie.
The first Australian settlements were hardly the place for the finesse of classical architecture, and for more than a generation most buildings were quite rudimentary. Even so, something of the orderliness of the Georgian style could be seen, for instance, in the plain uniformity of brick walling and the simple rectangularity of double-hung sash windows.
The most obvious characteristics of Old Colonial Georgian buildings—both sophisticated and ‘rude’—are a pleasantly human scale, rectangular and prismatic shapes, symmetrical façades, and well-tried proportions. As in other colonies in warm and hot climates, the early Australian house soon protected its principal rooms from the sun by means of the veranda, a device which also served many of the informal functions of everyday life. The veranda of a single-storey house is usually a lower-pitched extension of the main roof a twostorey house wears a similar veranda wrapped like a skirt around the lower half of its walls.
As towns grew, the quality of the design and workmanship of buildings improved and more overtly classical elements appeared. Some buildings designed to impress the observer exhibited a Palladian central block with wings or pavilions; façades were divided up by breakfronts or emphasised with porticoes, pediments, quoins and the occasional cupola. Refinements of this kind became important elements of the OLD COLONIAL REGENCY style, and by the time of Queen Victoria’s accession the character of classicism was quite discernible in Australian architecture.
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
RICHARD APPERLY, ROBERT IRVING, PETER REYNOLDS. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SOLOMON MITCHELL.
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.