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Federation Free Style c. 1890—c. 1915

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  04 Palisade Hotel  12 Mercantile Hotel 17 Walsh Bay Wharves
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  20 Observer Hotel 08 Wyoming
 Macquarie Street
014 Culwulla Chambers
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  045 George's House 017 Orchard's Corner 21 Darlinghurst Fire Station
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  30 Sze Yup Chinese Temple 012 Empire Buildings 09 Rozelle- typical Federation House
 
  08 Holme Building 19 John Woolley Building
46 Manning House
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  09 Pyrmont Fire Station 16 Pyrmont Post Office  
 
In News from Nowhere, William Morris described his dream of a humane, socialist Utopia in which the physical environment was a kind of reconstituted Merrie England. Everything was lovingly handmade from ‘natural’ materials, and a modest, human scale reigned supreme. Arts and Crafts architecture (see FEDERATION ARTS AND CRAFTS)
accordingly tended to be domestic and at least semirural in flavour. In Britain some architects grappled with the problem of applying Arts and Crafts principles to the design of commercial and institutional buildings in urban settings; among them were Charles Holden, Smith & Brewer, C. Harrison Townsend, Leonard Stokes, H. Fuller Clark, and a group of young architects working for the London County Council. The work of such men was often dubbed ‘Free Style’. Unlike the early European modernists, Free Style architects were not unduly concerned with advanced technology; they sought to design honestly with traditional materials while avoiding being shackled by stylistic dogmas from the past.
In Australia, the greatest volume of Federation Free Style work came from the office of the New South Wales Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon. Many of Vernon’s public buildings have a clear stylistic affinity with British work without in any way being slavish copies. Some of his buildings in country towns were designed with considerable awareness of the local environment and climate, and they deserve to be recognised as examples of a genuine turn-of-the-century Australian architecture. While prominent architects gave the lead, Free Style was taken up enthusiastically by many lesser lights, and it became a popular as well as a contrived idiom.
By definition, a ‘free’ style is not unduly constrained by rules, and Federation Free Style is no exception. Designers did not hesitate to use asymmetrical planning and massing. Classical elements, if used at all, were frequently distorted, incomplete or placed in an unusual context. Combinations of two or more traditional walling materials such as brick, stone and roughcast were exploited for their visual contrast. Touches of Art Nouveau were often introduced, especially in the lettering applied to the façades of buildings.

006 St Patrick’s Hall and School
47 Bentley Bar
   
  Quoted from:
"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.
 
  Former Mechanics Institute. Prahran, Victoria. Freestyle
 
  Provincial Hotel. Ballarat, Victoria. Completed 1909. A fanciful freestyle composition with art nouveau elements
 
  Dimmey's. Cremorne, Victoria
 
  Canterbury Flats. St Kilda, Victoria built 1919; Free style. Demonstrates a variety of Federation style influences
 
  City Baths, Melbourne

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