Circa 1945 > 1965

After World War Two, there was a shortage of equipment and materials, and skilled labour so houses were manufactured with cheap materials on a mass scale.

There was a post-war push towards family and home life, and this was reflected in increasing house sizes to accommodate growing families and a growth in home ownership.

This is the era of the 1940s and 1950s double brick cottage, the fibro home, the waterfall style with curved brickwork, and later the double and triple fronted brick veneer (meaning two or three or more front facing walls).  The brick veneer was made from wire cut bricks in light red, light tan or brown.

Although more traditional than those of Modern design, Post-war homes were generally single storey with interconnected living rooms and this was the start of the move to open plan living.  Mass produced windows encouraged a greater use of glass.  Brick veneer was popular because it was cheaper and faster than building with solid brick and became typical of the era.  Houses were generally ‘L’ shaped with a hipped roof and timber awnings with a brick edge or a terracotta tiled windowsill.  With more people owning cars, the inclusion of garages became increasingly common.

Inside, the floors were made of timber, and hard-wearing lino, rubber or vinyl floor coverings were introduced because this was cheaper than tiles or hardwood.  There was very little decoration.  Kitchen décor varied depending on the appliances, some kitchens featured built in ovens. Melamine benchtops, a cheaper alternative to other materials at the time, became extensively used.  The use of asbestos was also very common in eaves, wall cladding and ceilings.

This era saw a move from austerity to prosperity and post-war houses were comfortable and designed for family living.

Social history

Immediately after World War Two, there was widespread economic instability and general unrest. A shortage of skilled builders, building materials and equipment led to a major housing shortage.  This also sparked new beginnings and opportunity, especially in infrastructure. 

With many new European immigrants, a building boom followed the post-war baby boom. In 1947 the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects and The Age introduced the Small Homes Service, providing low-cost off-the-plan architecturally designed small homes.

Homes from the post war era are considered the ‘ugly duckling’ of Australian architecture.

This was the start of the ‘cookie cutter’ home.  Most houses built from the 1950s onwards were designed by building companies like AV Jennings rather than individual architects.


1950 > 1970

During the building boom that followed World War II, in the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of Modernist-style homes were constructed across the nation.

Modernism in architecture features open planning and simplicity with bold geometric shapes and little or no ornamentation.  Think sleek, streamlined, less decorated homes. Architects were influenced by American and European ideas. The German Bauhaus movement from 1919 to 1933 also had a huge influence in mid-century modern architecture.

These homes are characterized by very wide, low footprints with flat or raked rooflines.

Limited materials include brick, timber, metal, glass, tiles, and patterned laminate.  Walls were opened up to capture light with large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass. Modern design expressed innovative use of materials and structure, featuring cross ventilation, built in joinery and separation of communal and private rooms.  Architects focused on maximising views and connecting inside and outside spaces. Together with some innovative landscape architects, Modern architects developed an interest in environmentally sensitive design and a strong connection to the outdoors with a new appreciation of native plants and gardens.

Social history

The 1950s to the 1970s were happy days in Australia where home ownership was strong and attainable for most of the population.  Beach houses became popular.  Mid Century Modern designs started popping up in beachside locations, as well as the suburbs, and were very popular as a lifestyle choice they offered.  Innovation, simplicity and open planning were the essence of Modern design, and Aussies embraced this. 

This style is highly sought after today, now more than ever.