9 Aug 2023



Australian architecture is built on diverse architectural styles.  As a multifaceted country there are diverse styles that define traditional Australian architecture. From early European influences the architectural structure are still seen in current Australian homes. The most common features and styles are colonial, Victorian, federation and art deco that still remain present in Australian architecture. Some common features that represent a particular period are the common red bricks, pointy roofs, tessellated tiles and many more.

Colonial 1788-1901

The Roch by SDA Architects; photo by Ben Williams; Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney built in 1817; photo by JBar CC By -Sa 3.0

The colonisation era that represents Australia stems from the 1700’s straight through to the early 1900’s. During this stage architecture was consistent with corrugated iron roofs and the wrap around verandas. Due to the British settlement in Australia this influenced Australian architecture where mainly in New South Wales and Western Australia home features were consistent, and were known to have been built by prison convicts. This impact influenced colonial homes as they were designed to house farmers and were spacious and very symmetrical in design with large brick facades, sandstones and large pointy roofs.

Tessellated tiles and colonial era

During this era tessellated tiles were influenced by Georgian architecture where tiling patterns typically featured two to three colours in simple geometric designs that emphasised cleanliness, balance and proportion. Showcased are tessellated tiles that are most commonly used in colonial homes.

PT 59 Huntington
PT 66 Norwich
PT69 Cambridge

Victorian-Federation 1800’s-1900’s

Alma House by Architelle; photo by Prue Ruscoe; Admirality House

Construction exploded during Queen Victoria’s reign, and because of the high-quality structures, Victorian-Style buildings can still be found in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania today.  The Australian climate has also influenced architectural design, where balconies and verandas were more frequent to enjoy the sunny weather. Other influences were the Georgian, gothic, regency, and Italian style homes. Features like red brick construction and simple pitched roof, and decorated brick facades were common. The late 1800’s to the early 1900s saw the rise of Federation architecture. In this era, the emphasis was on pared-back yet still complex tiling patterns, with earthy colours becoming on trend.

Tessellated tiles and Victorian-Federation era

Tiling patterns shifted away from simple, monochromatic look to more vivid colours and complex tile patterns. Encaustics are used extensively in this period.

PT71 Balmain

Art Deco 1920’s to 1930’s era

Photo: Anson Smart

Art Deco is a design style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s and remains popular to this day. During this period a movement was developing as it was during the inter-war era and was labelled a ‘total work of art’ movement, a lot of influence came from fashion, architecture, art, films and much more. A distinct architectural feature of the art deco period are curved white or brick facades, geometric patterns, as well as hipped roofs.

Tessellated tiles and art deco era

Tiling patterns of this style feature bolder colours, contrasting patterns and geometric accents, with mosaics and angular motifs commonly featured. Mostly symmetrical and simple design were the two main features of the Art Deco style.

3 colours checkerboard
PT65 Lincolin

Australian Native Collection

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