Heritage Houses in Brisbane: 1920 to 1930's

Heritage Houses in Brisbane: 1920 to 1930's

Brisbane is filled to the brim with heritage houses. In this mini-series we delved into architecture from different eras to help you understand the design premise of your dream home. In this article we look into houses built in the Interwar period, the 1920 to 1930's.

The interwar building boom saw the construction of the porch-and-gable and multi-gable bungalows that characterise much of Brisbane’s timber-and-tin housing, particularly in suburbs such as Ashgrove. Many houses from this era were built through the Queensland Government Workers’ Dwelling Scheme. The era saw many influences from a diverse range of cultures.

To a lesser extent, the 1920s and 1930s also gave rise to more derivative domestic architecture - Californian bungalows as well as Spanish Mission, Old English, Functionalist and Art Deco style houses and flats. These houses were often constructed in masonry and there are examples in suburbs such as New Farm, Coorparoo and Chelmer.


This era saw a continued evolution of the bungalow style, as street-facing facades became more complex as design incorporating two or three gables with or without flanking verandas and sleepouts. The era’s economic downturn and depleting local timber stocks encouraged the rise to a more compact footprint with smaller verandas. The minimised design of the porches is counteracted with more extravagant gable decorations.



Often characterized by decorated roof and asymmetrical front, the multi-gable has similar design elements as the M-roof cottage.

A possible downfall of this design would be that rain builds up where the slopes meet but this is amended by a gutter running from front to back, perpendicular to the front of the building. The pitch of Multi-gable roofs is typically lower with wide eaves.
Multi-gable house


Californian bungalow

The Californian bungalow was ‘imported’ and made popular in Australia in the 1920’s. Key features of the buildings are generally the chunky columns holding the front veranda.
Californian Bungalow


Spanish mission

Spanish mission buildings were inspired by the 19th Century Spanish religious buildings in Mexico, New Mexico and California and developed by in America where their presence in movies and culture saw an influence in Australia fashion. The characteristics of the Spanish mission include arched opening with ‘Barley-sugar’ columns and stucco wall finish.
Spanish Mission


Old English revival/Tudor revival

The English Domestic was a picturesque style rooting from the rural buildings of 16th century England. Characteristics included steep roofs, gables facing the street and facades of fake half-timbering. Elaborate version of the style was known as Stockbroker Tudor as it was used for prestige homes to give them the look of a stately manor. While humbler suburban homes would adopt a simpler version, sometimes known as English Cottage.
Old English Revival/ Tudor Revival


Art Deco

The Modernism movement saw the introduction of Art Deco, which began in France after the end of World War I as a sophisticated high-end style based on fine craftsmanship. The style is notable for luxurious finishes and materials, rich colour and stylised images.
Art Deco



The Modernism movement also saw the introduction of Functionalism. This style rejected decoration for the preference of purely functional design that was free of applied ornamentation. It is characterised by horizontal lines, curved corners and windows, along with flat roofs. Other features that can appear in the styling include porthole windows and tubular steel railings.

Functionalist building diagram

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