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Late Victorian Free Style Early Arts and Crafts

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Palisade Hotel Sydney Observer Hotel Sydney Orchard's Corner Sydney
     
In News from Nowhere, William Morris described his dream of a humane, socialist Utopia in which the physical environment was a kind of reconstituted Merrie England. Everything was lovingly handmade from ‘natural’ materials, and a modest, human scale reigned supreme.

Arts and Crafts architecture accordingly tended to be domestic and at least semirural in flavour. In Britain some architects grappled with the problem of applying Arts and Crafts principles to the design of commercial and institutional buildings in urban settings; among them were Charles Holden, Smith & Brewer, C. Harrison Townsend, Leonard Stokes, H. Fuller Clark, and a group of young architects working for the London County Council. The work of such men was often dubbed ‘Free Style’. Unlike the early European modernists, Free Style architects were not unduly concerned with advanced technology; they sought to design honestly with traditional materials while avoiding being shackled by stylistic dogmas from the past.

By definition, a ‘free’ style is not unduly constrained by rules, and Federation Free Style is no exception. Designers did not hesitate to use asymmetrical planning and massing. Classical elements, if used at all, were frequently distorted, incomplete or placed in an unusual context. Combinations of two or more traditional walling materials such as brick, stone and roughcast were exploited for their visual contrast. Touches of Art Nouveau were often introduced, especially in the lettering applied to the façades of buildings.
City Baths, Melbourne, Australia.
See http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/STYLES/STY-F10.htm