Just like backyard cricket, the ‘Hills Hoist’ clothesline and even the humble lamington – the verandah is an iconic feature of the Australian cultural landscape. Used for over two centuries, the verandah has evolved and become a staple feature of Australian architecture and continues on into the 21st- century. Interestingly the word “verandah” comes from India, a modified form of the Persian word ‘Bar-Amada’ which translates to “the place leading to the outside”. From there it has been adapted throughout the world, evident in many forms of Creole architecture, but has found a permanent home within the urban and rural landscapes of the ‘sunburnt country’.
Providing solstice from the harsh summer sun, the verandah became essentially an alfresco area for families to gather, sit down and watch the kids play in the garden or the world go by. It was such an efficient and effective form of shelter and thermal regulator of the main house that it became increasingly popular throughout the decades, particularly throughout the Victorian and Federation building styles.
Perhaps the most recognisable form of verandah is evident in a style called the ‘Queenslander,’ with its long built façade and verandah wrapping around the entire building. The Queenslander is still widely built today with many building companies Australia wide offering it as a house style that can be built ‘off the plan’. Uniquely the Queenslander is usually built on long stilts reinforcing the linearity of the building with the continuation of the verandah posts.
Today the verandah is coming back in style with a modern touch and a nod to its predecessors. Over the last few decades, the modern building typologies adopted with the housing boom in Australia have presented a range of buildings with strong rectangular geometry. With their flat roofs and no awnings to shade windows, these buildings have not coped as efficiently as they could have within the Australian climate, costing a small fortune on using the air conditioner to regulate the house. In some instances, owners of these buildings are stylishly adding a verandah as an architectural feature to the original built form, creating another ‘room outside’ so they too can enjoy a piece of Australian cultural history.