Adelaide House Styles

Adelaide is indeed rich in differing house styles. Following is a pictorial history of some of the various styles which exist in our state. Not only is the following presentation a showcase of the various styles, but it also provides an insight into factors such as the availability of materials at the time of construction as well as reflecting factors such as levels of prosperity and political events at the time.

Perhaps due to the abundance of available land, and the method of land subdivision, it is evident that the people of early Adelaide had a strong affinity for single story detached dwellings. Even in the city of Adelaide, the proportion of terrace houses which were originally constructed was far less than that observed in cities such as Melbourne and Sydney.

One of the first home styles built in Adelaide was the early settler’s cottage which is a replica of the traditional English country cottage. This was originally built with materials which were available at the time which included reeds, bark, turf, logs, clay reinforced with straw, stone or brick. Some of the stone or brick cottages still remain today. Following the settler’s cottage came an array of other home styles. This pictorial presentation demonstrates the evolution of Adelaide home styles over time. Although this is not a definitive compilation it provides various examples of styles which can be found in Adelaide. The dates provided are guides indicating the period in which these homes were built.


Settler’s Cottage 1836+



Single Fronted Cottage 1840-1915

Single fronted cottages were built from 1840 through to the early bungalow period. Because of the time span through which they were built it is common to see that the same materials which were available for the early cottages to the villas, were also used with the single fronted cottages.



Symmetrical Cottage 1860-1915

Symmetrical cottages were originally built as four room dwellings. During the period which they were built roof styles varied from “M” roof, “Well” roof, “Hip” roof and “Louvre” roof. Veranda styles also varied with concave, convex and bull nose all featuring.



Bay Window Villa 1870-1890



Villa 1880-1915

Originally this style of home featured a double front with an extended gable or hipped roof. Similar to the symmetrical cottage the roof styles on villas also varied as fashion changed and the various roof styles consisted of “M” roof, “Well” roof, “Hip” roof and “Louvre” roof styles.



Return Verandah Villa 1885-1915



Louvre Roof 1905-1918

Due to the non-existence of air conditioning at the time the early homes were built, good ventilation was highly favourable. To remove hot air from the roof cavity, gablets were built into the ridge cap. The gablets had louvered slats built in. Air would enter from open eaves and convection currents would force the hot air out of the gablet. Due to this open air system, wooden slats and bird wire was used for the eaves to prevent birds and vermin from entering the roof cavity.



Queen Anne 1905-1918

Queen Anne is typified by its decorative adornment. And is an Australian adaptation from a late 19th century English revival of an earlier architectural concept.




Mansions do not consist of a particular style but are typically large homes built to suit the tastes of their very wealthy owners. Many were based on European designs.



Bungalow 1916-1930

In South Australia the Bungalow is a single story dwelling usually of rectangular shape. This style of home has a gabled front veranda and some bungalows have Kentish Gabled roofs. The following pictures illustrate bungalows with both standard and Kentish gables.



Tudor 1928-1938

The Tudor is characterised by steeply pitched gables at the front of the home. These gables are often ornately decorated. In its simplest form the Tudor, like the Bungalow, consisted of five main rooms plus a sleep out under the lean-to. Much larger and more ornate Tudors consisting of up to 12 rooms were also built.



Dutch Gable 1934-1945

The Dutch Gable features steps or flowing curves on a steeply pitched gable.



Art Deco 1934-1945

The Art Deco has a steeply pitched rendered or stuccoed gable with feature front corbels in dark, often glazed brick, extended into and contrasting with the gable



Austerity 1941-1955

Due to the second world war, building restrictions were in place between 1941 and 1950. During this time house areas were limited to approximately 110m2. As building materials were also limited, this promoted the use of simpler building designs. These homes usually contained only two bedrooms, a sitting room, dining room and kitchen. This style continued on up until about 1955.



Waterfall Austerity 1948-1955

The main feature of the “Waterfall” dwelling are its rounded corners. These styles became popular with the advent of contemporary modern (at the time) architecture.



Conventional Gable Fronted 1935-1945



Contemporary 1950s

This style defines homes with angular appearances and with very low pitched skillion roofs, typically made from metal or asbestos. These homes were often inexpensive to build.



Conventional 1950s

These homes were erected in the mid fifties and early sixties. They were less austere than the post-war homes however similar building materials were used for their construction.



Cape Cod 1960s-1970s

Very much characterized by their roof style and often rectangular in shape.



Boomerang Style 1960s

These homes were built in the early sixties and are very much and Australian statement as is evident by the boomerang shape of the home.



Spanish Style 1970s-1980s



Colonial Homes 1970s-1980s

Often characterized by their colonial style windows



Mawson Lakes Development 1992- now

The Mawson Lakes development is a good example or today’s modern building designs and materials. There are also good examples of reproductions of classic old styles. Mawson Lakes echoes the signs of our time, with the push towards higher density development, which homes of the past were less accustomed to. This push towards smaller block sizes has meant that double story dwellings are becoming more prevalent now in some areas and these dwellings are now changing the landscape or our communities to accommodate our new modern way of living.



A great reference source for Adelaide house styles, is the book “Adelaide House Styles – A Pictorial History” by J. N. Persse & D. M. Rose.