Large numbers of terraced houses were built in the inner suburbs of large Australian cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, mainly between the 1850s and the 1890s. The beginning of this period coincided with a population boom caused by the Victorian and New South Wales Gold Rushes of the 1850s and finished with an economic depression in the early 1890s. Detached housing became the popular style of housing in Australia following Federation in 1901.
Melbourne's flat terrain has produced regular terraced house patterns. The wealth of the gold rush fuelled speculative housing development and also ensured that many terraces were built with ornate and elaborate details in a generally Italianate style, reaching its zenith in the 1880s with what is often referred to as "boom" style. The generic Melbourne style of terrace is distinguishable from other regional variations.
The majority of designers of Victorian terraces in Melbourne made a deliberate effort to hide roof elements with the use of a decorative parapet, often combined with the use balustrades above a subtle but clearly defined eave cornice and a frieze, which was either plain or decorated with a row of brackets (and sometimes additional patterned bas-relief). Chimneys were often tall, visible above the parapet and elaborately Italianate in style.
Individual terraces were designed to be appreciated on their own as much as part of a row. Symmetry was achieved through a central classical inspired pediment or similar architectural feature, balanced by a pair of architectural finial or urns on either side (though these details were subsequently removed on many terraces). The party walls were almost always decorated with corbels (which sometimes depicted heads), and the large wooden entry doors were decorated with stained or etched glass surrounds.
The Melbourne style often incorporated polychrome brickwork and decorative cast iron balconies (of the filigree style). The demand for imported cast iron eventually led to the establishment of local foundries. As a result, Melbourne has more decorative cast iron than any other city in the world. Melbourne style terraces were often set back from the street rather than built to the property line, providing a small front yard. Decorative cast-iron fencing, regularly dispersed with rendered brick piers, was typically used, and the party wall of the end terraces would sometimes, but not always, extend to the property line to join the fence.
This post is part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Saturday Silhouettes meme.