St Colombo

Architectural Note

Home   Contact Me   The Photos   Sources   Map   Technical Note  


My Background

All I know about architecture is what I've gleaned from a lifetime of admiring fine buildings - both in Australia and overseas - supplemented by some reading and occasional discussions with architect friends.

The Heritage

It is apparent that the Nineteenth Century builders and architects who were responsible for the buildings depicted on this website had roughly a thousand years of British architectural history to draw on. They may have utilised Irish traditions as well. In the Barossa Valley and Lower South East there may have been some German influences too.

Beyond that, they also had access to another two thousand years of Western classical architecture - Roman, Greek, Egyptian etc - for inspiration. I can see very little evidence that they went further afield - though Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, possesses a number of mosques to service its small Moslem community.

In Britain in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century - when so many of the buildings on this website were constructed - the Neo-Gothic style was popular, as well as the Italianate.

Builders and Architects

The buildings shown on these webpages need to be researched to establish who were the architects and/or builders who designed them. This is a significant undertaking. Research comparing the buildings with recognised architectural styles also needs to be undertaken.

These two research tasks will take time - results will be posted with the relevant photo as available.

South Australian Regional Architecture

Stephen Herbert, an architect who practices from Mount Gambier in the south-east of South Australia, has written a very informative article on South Australian regional architecture (See Sources). Key factors described by Mr Herbert include :

  • Lack of suitable timber for building construction but ready availability of basalt, dolomite and limestone. Commercial softwoods became available in the 1930s.
  • Presence of a small number of extremely wealthy individuals who built country mansions in the Gothic, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Italianate styles with opulent decoration and finishes.
  • Some evidence of local improvisation and the use of local materials eg red gum.
  • Industrial and Rural Vernacular buildings using local stone eg Glencoe woolshed and Coonawarra winery. These buildings show the start of a distinctive regional style.
  • Urban buildings following the British tradition eg numerous civic buildings, banks, post offices, churches, hotels.
  • A period of "high design detailing which had its pinnacle in Victorian Federation and Art Nouveau highly stylised details." (Some of the houses on Bay Rd Mt Gambier offer examples of this I imagine).
  • A "fog of mediocrity" after World War I with only a few outstanding examples eg by Walter White.
  • Climatic influences - a cooler climate than other parts of Australia, meaning lack of a need for wide shady verandahs.

Typical South Australian Building Styles

To my untrained eye, the use of typical colonial features such as thick stone walls, high ceilings, large verandahs around two or three sides of dwellings and high, well-ventilated roofs, is also apparent throughout South Australia, prior to the Second World War.

Compared to Europe, there is a relative lack of two storey buildings.

Examples of the opulent buildings referred to by Mr Herbert include Karratta House, Padthaway House, Struan House and Yallum Park, all of which are found on this website.

October 2006