The Federation Revival Movement and its Arguments

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When is it Federation style? When is it just bad taste? Read on:
Heritage-imitation in the Ivanhoe area.
Heritage-imitation in the Ivanhoe area.


15 Abbey Road Goulburn
15 Abbey Road Goulburn


Armadale residential re-design!
Armadale residential re-design!



Imitation Heritage Design

Archicentre, Wednesday, 10 July 2013

An interesting article appeared in Melbourne’s The Age about ‘imitation heritage’ buildings
The article highlighted the two extremes of design in areas of heritage significance.
  • On the one hand is an unashamedly 21st century approach that reflects contemporary ideas and techniques whilst
  • on the other is a 20th (or even a 19th!) century approach that replicates traditional styles and materials.

Whilst both approaches have their supporters – and their critics – what does it all mean for the average person who wants to build a new home, renovate or develop property in a ‘neighbourhood character’ area?
The answer is simple – don’t assume anything!
  • Don’t assume that you can build what you like in an area of heritage significance.
  • Don’t assume that your proposal will be supported by the Council, their heritage advisor or local community groups.
  • Don’t assume that you will be able to get your project built quickly.

Obtaining Council approval to develop property in a heritage-sensitive location can be unpredictable, time-consuming and expensive...it’s not for the impatient! An open mind is very important, as is negotiating skill and a willingness to compromise if necessary.

1. Architects bemoan 'imitation heritage'

Date July 8, 2013;
Marika Dobbin
Marika Dobbin

Comments 91
Marika Dobbin
Reporter for The Age
  • The design formula for replica Federation units and houses built throughout Melbourne is almost guaranteed to pass neighbourhood character tests for planning permits.
  • Leading architects argue this 'imitation heritage' trend comes at the expense of contemporary design, stifling creativity and innovation and resulting in 'mundane' streetscapes.[1]
Heritage-imitation in Ivanhoe. Architects Peddle Thorp say it meets neighbourhood character requirements but is a poor design outcome.
Heritage-imitation in Ivanhoe. Architects Peddle Thorp say it meets neighbourhood character requirements but is a poor design outcome.

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Faux heritage v contemporary home design

Heritage-imitation in Ivanhoe. Architects Peddle Thorp say it meets neighbourhood character requirements but is a poor design outcome.
  • Brick-veneer walls, rendered cement cladding, a one-metre set-back upstairs and a pitched roof.
  • The design formula for those replica Federation units being built throughout Melbourne is simple and almost guaranteed to pass neighbourhood character tests for council planning permits.
    Federation roof line over ugly garage fronted ground floor
    Federation roof line over ugly garage fronted ground floor
  • Melbourne's leading architects say the trend of ''imitation heritage'' homes comes at the expense of contemporary design, an imbalance that will worsen under the latest planning rules.
  • Planning Minister Matthew Guy has promised ''the strongest protections for neighbourhood character in Victoria's planning history'' for quiet residential streets, with the rollout of new planning zones across the state.

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) is worried this will result in more prescriptive planning that will further stifle creativity and innovation and lead to more ''mundane'' streetscapes.
  • Residents group Save Our Suburbs said neighbourhood character was the most vexed issue in the planning scheme.
President Ian Wood said: ''I can understand why architects don't want their creative flair to be inhibited but when you look at some of their stuff, it stands out like a sore thumb. The architect thinks it's innovative but locals abhor it.''
  • Councils have 12 months to decide which streets will fall into the new ''neighbourhood'', ''general'' and ''growth'' zones.

2. New Homes in Federation Style

During the early-1990s, many of the design elements that characterised the federation architecture of old were popularised in mainstream architecture. This Federation revival form is also known as "mock federation" or "faux federation". The style was widespread within the realm of residential housing (especially in new development suburbs) and for apartment buildings; however, smaller shopping centres and other public buildings also made use of the revival style that retained widespread popularity until the early 2000s. Sydney suburbs developed in the 1990s such as Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, and Menai are notable in the sense that large tracts of these developments contain almost exclusively Federation revival homes.

The construction of Federation revival architecture varied little from that of other basic styles, with the federation elements merely forming the facade and decorating elements of the building. For example, the typical brick and roof tile construction, hexagonal turrets, ornate gable work, prominent verandah, steep pitched roofs, and faceted bay windows served to parallel the traditional federation architecture.[2]
Federation revival home in Wahroonga, Sydney
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Federation revival apartments in Lindfield NSW

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Federation revival apartments inMiranda, Sydney (c. 1995)
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Built in the 1990s, mock-Federation McMansions now heritage listed

Hornsby Shire area
Hornsby Shire area
Kim Mullins, Rhonda Williams, Mick Gallagher and Vanessa McClure are angry these homes will be heritage listed. Picture: Tim Hunter Source: The Sunday Telegraph

A STREET of mock-Federation McMansions is to be protected by a heritage conservation order, even though the houses are less than 20 years old.
Hornsby councillor Bruce Mills is leading a push to have Cannan Close, Cherrybrook, gazetted as a heritage conservation area.
While the cul-de-sac was only developed in the 1990s, Mr Mills said it was already architecturally significant, and brushed aside claims that it was too new to be listed.
  • "I don't think anyone turns into Cannan Close who doesn't let out an involuntary 'wow'," Mr Mills said. "The houses are consistent in their look, feel, style and materials, the width of the blocks, even the trees and gardens.
  • "I know that the Cannan Close dwellings are only 20 or so years old, but what will our grandchildren be debating if we say it's not old enough?
  • "Under these new planning laws, nothing will survive until it's 70 years old because nothing is protected."
  • If successful, the conservation order would not stop the houses being altered, or even demolished.
  • But Mr Mills said it would mean that any changes to their current structure, or anything built in their place, would have to be similar to what existed. He said the idea of protecting the street had been driven by local residents, after one Cannan Close homeowner submitted a development application to subdivide his block into two.
Read more:


Harkaway Homes - Classic Victorian & Early Federation Homes
Australia's finest character homes from Australia's leading Reproduction Home specialists.
On offer are eight ranges of superb homes covering all aspects of the Victorian and Federation erasHarkaway Homes are a multi award winning company having won awards in the Master Builders Association's Excellence in Housing Awards for four years in succession.A Harkaway Home will sit magnificently on broad country acres or a tight city block.
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"On offer are eight ranges of superb homes covering all aspects of the Victorian and Federation eras"
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Harkaway 358
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Harkaway 359
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Harkaway 361
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Harkaway 370



Example: 'Grand estate for sale'


Date August 3, 2013
Meredith Clisby
Meredith Clisby


Meredith Clisby -
Number 15 Abbey Road, Goulburn, is one of the area's finest homes.

Number 15 Abbey Road, Goulburn, is one of the area's finest homes.
Number 15 Abbey Road, Goulburn, is one of the area's finest homes.

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(Note similarity to Harkaway 358 design of gabled Homestead series

"A magnificent home ideal to be positioned in a beautiful place.
Carefully derived from our homestead series the three gables and portico front entrance give an unmistakable look to the design.")


Victorian arch and lead light windows
Victorian arch and lead light windows

Elaborate cornice and period fireplace
Elaborate cornice and period fireplace


Elaborate victorian-era cornice and typical fireplace
Elaborate victorian-era cornice and typical fireplace

Period style wooden floorboards
Period style wooden floorboards


  • "A stunning residence in Goulburn with a gym, a championship-sized tennis court and a three-tiered solar heated pool has been listed on the market.
  • "Number 15 Abbey Road was designed by the vendors as their dream family home. While they created it as a "forever home" for themselves and their four children a new opportunity has inspired the sale of the property.
  • "The vendors would love to see their years of hard work and dedication passed on to someone who will appreciate what they have created and "especially those who seek what is arguably Goulburn's finest residential home".
  • "Set in a commanding position in this exclusive cul de sac, number 15 Abbey Road is arguably Goulburn's finest residential home.
  • "Master built to exacting specifications with a meticulous fit out, this home is the epitome of style and class that is rarely found. Our vendors heart & soul has gone into their home, they have now decided to allow their dream to become yours & capitalise on their hard work."
  • "5 bedrooms including parents retreat
  • "10ft ceilings throughout with blue gum flooring
  • "Manicured gardens with auto water system set on 2 acres"[3]

3. Federation Renovation done well

Federation Revival by Hare and Klein won the Residential Decoration award in the 2011 Australian Interior Design Awards.
Design statement
Federation Revival by Hare and Klein. Image:  Anson Smart, Jenni Hare
Federation Revival by Hare and Klein. Image: Anson Smart, Jenni Hare

This heritage-listed early Federation home has endured inappropriate additions, unsightly alterations and neglect. The new owners took on the role of custodians of the property, with the intention of restoring it to its original glory. Existing spaces were reconfigured and new additions built to enhance the home and to suit a contemporary lifestyle.

The house was dark, depressing and disjointed; it is now filled with light, and the flow from space to space is logical and functional. All original features have been respected, repaired and replaced, and bad additions were demolished or reconfigured with respect to the original design language. The new work and additions are seamless, and the new joinery, kitchen and bathrooms are contemporary but classic in interpretation.

The home was not intended as a showpiece, but rather a sanctuary for the family, who appreciate good design and art. The furniture has been carefully selected to reflect the home’s past and its future, with an emphasis on comfort and contemporary classics, but with a nod to history in a few antique pieces.

Residential decoration

In a true collaboration, designer and client have exercised great care and commitment in this project to restore a Federation residence that has endured a chequered past including periods of neglect. The interior designer has respectfully recognized and enhanced the original features of this home through expert manipulation of light, colour and material. A sublime balance of light and shade is achieved through openness, enclosure, content and space. The inspired selection of eclectic furniture pieces speaks of durability and quality. As a whole, the project pays homage to tradition within contemporary interior decoration practice.
Victorian style arch and fanlight retained
Victorian style arch and fanlight retained

Picture rails and archway maintained
Picture rails and archway maintained

Tuck-pointed brickwork and  wooden floorboards retained with original verandah posts and attractive furniture
Tuck-pointed brickwork and wooden floorboards retained with original verandah posts and attractive furniture

Window arch, fanlight over doorway and picture rails all retained
Window arch, fanlight over doorway and picture rails all retained

Project: Federation Revival NSWDesign Practice: Hare + Klein Interior Design
Photography: Anson Smart


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Jury Citation:
In a true collaboration, designer and client have exercised great care and commitment in this project to restore a Federation residence that has endured a chequered past including periods of neglect. The interior designer has respectfully recognized and enhanced the original features of this home through expert manipulation of light, colour and material. A sublime balance of light and shade is achieved through openness, enclosure, content and space. The inspired selection of eclectic furniture pieces speaks of durability and quality.

4. Federation Renovation good and bad
2 Fitzroy Tce, Thorngate
2 Fitzroy Tce, Thorngate

2 Fitzroy Tce, Thorngate. Picture: David Cronin Source: The Advertiser
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The owners of a heavily renovated 1913-built mansion have had one eye on its past and one on its future, writes Amy Noonan.

A THORNGATE mansion has had a long and rich history before falling on hard times.
However, it was its run-down nature that appealed to Liz Peter, when she and her husband bought the Fitzroy Tce property five years ago.


  • "It was in a mess. And it was the perfect renovation," Mrs Peter says.
  • "We left it structurally as it was. A lot of people said 'why don't you bulldoze it' but it's a very grand home.
  • "It's one of the iconic homes in Adelaide.
  • "We wanted to keep its original structure and design and not take away from its age and history."
  • The home was designed by Adelaide Oval scoreboard designer Kenneth Milne and built in 1913 for his brother.
  • Its previous owners included GM Holden and the Greek Consulate.
  • Mrs Peter says the home had an austere style to it.
  • "It was bare of cornices. It was all square set and manly," she says.
  • "Basically, we've put in big cornices, we've painted every room, we've replaced all of the ceilings, we ripped out the kitchen and put in a new one."
  • However, Mrs Peter says she didn't want Eaton House to be a shell with a modern interior.
  • Instead, they went to great trouble to retain parts of the original carpet and the original doors.

Armadale residential renovation
A renovation has modernised yet respected the design of this historic home including the family room, a new pool area, the exterior and porch entry.
A renovation has modernised yet respected the design of this historic home including the family room, a new pool area, the exterior and porch entry.
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Remaster of art and craft
"A renovation has modernised yet respected the design of this historic home including the family room, a new pool area, the exterior and porch entry.
  • "In an extensive Armadale residential renovation, building designer Luke Middleton took on one of the giants of historic Melbourne architecture, Harold Desbrowe-Annear, and won.
  • "Last year Middleton took out the Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) award for heritage renovation.
  • "The designer, who made his name as a stickler for sustainable architecture, was humbled by the commission but, obviously, not overwhelmed because he managed to match an arts and crafts master's hand in a voluminous, contemporary and carefully detailed two-level rear addition to an already substantial 1920s home.
A renovation has modernised yet respected the design of this historic home including the family room, a new pool area, the exterior and porch entry.
A renovation has modernised yet respected the design of this historic home including the family room, a new pool area, the exterior and porch entry.
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Not all renovation is sympathetic to Federation detail: This house would have had period interior decoration....
House of the Week
Federation style home’s modern renovation

POSTED ON NOVEMBER 1, 2012 BY ANGI
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"This stunning white Federation home in Auckland NZ has recently undergone a renovation and oh my…its fabulous. This home is featured in the latest issue of Trends Renovation.
  • "New Zealanders have their exterior colours worked out. They have a different light than we do here in Australia, but they balance this by having their exteriors in a slightly greyed off or muddier version. This creates a look of depth rather than eye blinding bright regardless of the colour. Its for this reason that I love the Colours of NZ palette that Dulux brought out recently.
  • "This house has been given new life for a family with the extension that has been designed and executed so well (Darren Jessop, Jessop Architects Auckland & Sonya Cotter Design).
  • "I love the large skylights in the verandah (very clever) that allow natural light to flood in. Note the lovely ash colour of the decking, so many options other than a deep reddy brown that can look to heavy.
  • "It is the simplicity of the house that draws me in with the white on white colour scheme allowing the original period details of the house to shine."
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"And just when you think its going to be a wash out of white inside….the black cabintery does a stellar job of creating a dramatic modern kitchen.

  • I love the mix of the black and white here. So bold and it really makes that fabulous Carrera Marble splashback shine.
  • Modern, sleek but to me also a family friendly space…love it!
  • Great use of a charcoal in a living room. The panelled ceilings are devine. Also they have created a secret wine cellar from an automated trap door in the kitchen, brilliant!!!"

References:


  1. ^ http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/architects-bemoan-imitation-heritage-20130707-2pk5c.html
  2. ^
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federation_architecture
  3. ^ http://www.realestate.com.au/property-house-nsw-goulburn-114379975