Inter-war Georgian Revival, Mediterranean
and Spanish Mission
The dominance of English Revival architectural styles from the 1880s through Federation to the First World War began to give way around 1910.
Taste shifted to once again embrace continental idioms. Foremost was Georgian Revival, with its roots in classical architecture that had inspired the first European buildings in colonial Sydney, and the Mediterranean-style. This 'new' form drew on the architecture of Italy and Spain and, therefore, also had classical origins. But with this style there was less of the Georgian concern with symmetry.
Mediterranean architecture was championed in inter-war Sydney by Leslie Wilkinson, the Professor of Architecture at the University of Sydney, because it was deemed to be the most suitable form of building for the local climate. Sydney and the countries of the Mediterranean were a similar latitudinal distance from the Equator and, therefore, enjoyed comparable temperate climates. With its light-coloured stuccoed walls, window shutters which kept out the sun but let in the breeze, and shady arcades or loggia, the Mediterranean-style was perfect for sunny coastal Sydney.
In the 1920s Mediterranean architecture was the tasteful style of the well-to-do. The related Spanish Mission style was somewhat more glamorous, evoking the architecture of Hollywood stars and inter-war California.
The use of Mediterranean styles represented yet another introduction of an overseas form. The rediscovery of colonial Georgian architecture, however, was the first example of a home-grown revival. Australians were looking back to that first colonial architecture and finding in it something essentially Australian and beautiful. Sydney-born William Hardy Wilson was the foremost prophet of the Georgian-Revival and the middle and upper class residents of the north shore were very receptive to his ideas and those of his peers. This style tended to be far more restrained than imported Mediterranean idioms. Interestingly, in North Sydney Georgian and Mediterranean architecture found favour in Neutral Bay which had formerly been a showcase of English Revival styles.