Old and new

We all know that the ‘character’ homes of Australia’s major cities changes depending on location.

From Queensland’s timber and tin to South Australia’s stone – they were usually constructed using local building materials available at the time.

I’m no architect but I really like looking at the differences between old and new housing styles – from the actual house, to the street layout – with the former being more my area of expertise.

I had thought that most new developments across the country were very similar. In some areas, they are. But this exercise did show me that there are local variations in built form, albeit minor.

Basically I searched the peripheries of major Australian cities on Google Maps to find new developments. Not exactly a scientific method, but I identified suburbs that had some constructed housing, with vacant lots still available.

What I found was interesting, and perhaps reflective of different tastes across different cities. From roof colours, to street patterns – each city was a little bit different in their new developments.

But the starkest difference was still the old versus the new.

Things that I noticed:

  • Older suburbs (L) have a similar gridded pattern across the major cities, whereas the new developments vary.
  • The topography of the hills surrounding Adelaide would have a major impact on its outer urban development style.
  • New developments have a lot less variation in colour palette, across the cities.
  • Less private green space in new developments. The shrinking (or elimination) of the backyard in Australia is well documented.

The houses from different time periods are interesting too. See this West End home with a total floor space of 160 sqm compared to this Yarrabilba home of 212 sqm.

Both initially built as modest family homes – the layout of our homes is very indicative of how our society has changed over time.

Published by RachelGallagher

Geographer, urban researcher

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