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Victorian Filigree c. 1840—c. 1890

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  23 Australian Youth Hotel 25 1 Toxteth Road 07 St. Scholastica’s College 
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  01 Tusculum  13 Public Urinal  
       
       
 
From the early days of European settlement, the veranda has played an important part in Australian architecture. It shades the external walls of a building from the often severe summer sun, and at the same time it provides a transitional zone between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ which fosters relaxed, communal activities of many kinds. During the Old Colonial period the veranda was usually of one storey; two-storey verandas became common as the Victorian period progressed.
From about mid-century, when the gold rushes brought sudden increases in population and wealth, there was a growing demand for more ornate styles of architecture (see also Victorian Free Classical), a demand which was largely met by the extensive use of decorative cast-iron components. The first local ironfounder of consequence was Richard Dawson, who established his business in Sydney in 1833, remelting bars of imported pig- iron. Iron ore was first smelted at Mittagong, New South Wales, in 1848. Cast-iron components for buildings were at first imported from Britain, but by the 1870s they were being designed and made in Australia and were being widely used, sometimes featuring local flora such as the fern and the flannel flower.
The most important cast-iron components were those associated with the veranda—posts in the form of ultra-thin classical columns, balustrades, friezes, brackets and fringes. Ordered from the ironfounder’s catalogue and quickly assembled on site, they made the veranda into a lacy screen seen against pools of dim shadow. It mattered little whether the solid building veiled by this delicate filigree was in one or other of the various classical or medieval styles, or whether or not its design was of any great distinction; the filigree screen became the visually dominant element which transformed the architecture.
The term irOn lace has frequently and aptly been used in the context of this style. Some examples, however, display perforated screens made both of iron and of timber, or of timber alone—the latter being especially common in Queensland. For this reason, iron has been deliberately excluded from the style’s name.
In the prosperous 1870s and 1880s, speculative builders built many thousands of terrace houses in the densely packed suburbs around the centres of cities and large towns, and they almost always featured filigree-encrusted, two-storey verandas addressing the street from between the houses’ party walls. Principally because of their decorative ironwork, these buildings have come to be regarded as distinctively Australian, although there are interesting parallels to be seen in New Orleans and also in the West Indies and South Africa.
   
  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.
 
  Late Victorian terrace houses in Fitzroy, Victoria.
 
  A Queenslander in New Farm, Queensland
 
  The Regatta Hotel in Toowong, Queensland, present building constructed in 1886
 
  Reid's Coffee Palace. Ballarat, Victoria. Completed 1886.
 
  The Sir William Wallace Hotel in Balmain, New South Wales completed 1879.

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