Historical Architectural Style :: The Art Deco Waterfall House…..

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One of the most eccentric of the domestic architectural styles 

of the 20th century is the offshoot of the Art Deco movement, 

known as the Waterfall Style.

 

It's a style of architecture that I particularly adore, 

with its simplicity of decoration and rounded lines, 

but good examples are fairly rare.

 

A rather fabulous example of it has come on the market

in the garden suburb of Eaglemont in Melbourne's leafy East,

so let's have a bit of a dig into the history & elements of this style,

as we ponder the glamour of this curvaceous house.

 

 

Appearing in the early 1940s

as a morphed development of the 1930s Streamline Moderne Style,

the Waterfall house was all about sweeping curves, 

as was Streamline Moderne.

The difference between them is mostly about texture,

and particularly texture of the external walls. 

 

Whereas a Streamline Moderne house would mostly be in a

(white or cream) rendered finish,

the Waterfall house was usually built from cream bricks,

with darker brown glazed bricks laid in bands 

to emphasise the horizontal lines.

The feature bands were laid under window sills

and in lineal patterns across the brickwork. 

 

The glazed brown bricks on the window sills, the top & base of the walls, and a repeated double band through the centre of the windows are typical of the Waterfall Style in Australian domestic architecture. 

The glazed brown bricks on the window sills, the top & base of the walls, and a repeated double band through the centre of the windows are typical of the Waterfall Style in Australian domestic architecture. 

 

The most wonderful, and expensive versions of the Waterfall style

have multiple curved glass windows, 

and it is because of them that I so love this style of architecture.

 

The windows were framed in steel,

which were often painted black or dark brown to match the glazed brick bands.

 

Windows would nearly always have venetian blinds fitted,

in small sections to suit the curve,

or in rare cases they were actually made from curved timber slats.

 

Even the steel door, and its matching glazing, is curved in this house! And of course, the terrace has a curved balustrade to match.

Even the steel door, and its matching glazing, is curved in this house! And of course, the terrace has a curved balustrade to match.

 

Roofing on Waterfall houses was sometimes expressed in a hip and valley, 

and was sometimes hidden behind a parapet from the Streamline Moderne influence.

This house uses both.

 

This would definitely have to be a cocktail party terrace,

don't you think?

 

Simple white walls, polished timber floors and a curved cornice allow the windows to take centre stage. 

Simple white walls, polished timber floors and a curved cornice allow the windows to take centre stage. 

 

Internally, those generous curved windows completely dominate the architecture,

which is beautifully played here with the simple white walls and uplit wall lamps.

 

The floor plan is where the Waterfall Style gets really literal and exciting,

with its abundance of curves and the early use of open planning 

in the living areas. 

The number three is also paramount to this style,

which you can see in the number of curved windows facing the front path.

 

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And if one curved window is good, two are even better, it would seem….

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This is an astonishing well preserved example of the Waterfall style,

and because it is set on a generous block in a garden suburb

which was laid out by Walter Burley Griffin,

known as the Mont Eagle Estate,

it will hopefully live on to provide grace and beauty for all who see it,

both as a valuable element in the streetscape,

but also as a sunlight-filled family home.

 


for more details on the property, the listing is here