University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Mining boom styles

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 11:36 authored by Stuart KingStuart King, Willis, J
The idea of a ‘Boom Style’ is now accepted within the lexicon of Australian architectural historians, typically used to describe the exuberant and individualistic architectural expression of the 1880s and early 1890s, especially in ‘Marvellous Melbourne’, and to lesser degrees in Sydney and Brisbane. These Boom Style buildings, originally describing domestic buildings, but latterly extended to include large commercial structures, are characterised by eclecticism and the enrichment of facades developed through multiple overlays of represented structure and ornament, exemplified in the likes of the Olderfleet Building, Melbourne (1889). For such works, ‘Boom Style’, as a stylistic label, refers not so much to a particular elemental vocabulary (elements could be combined from any variants of Classical or Gothic languages), rather a common compositional approach to the design. It was composition that enabled architects to negotiate the wealth and expectations of clients and an urbane populace, as well as an equally rich architectural milieu.

This paper examines the coining of the term ‘Boom Style’ as it is used specifically to describe architecture in Melbourne in the late 1880s and early 1890s, and generically elsewhere. It argues that if a contextually responsive compositional method prevails over an elemental language in a robust ‘Boom Style’, then the style should be identifiable against the backdrop of boom conditions in other places. Indeed, localised late-nineteenth-century boom styles can be observed elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand typically associated with sudden influxes of wealth from mining, for example, in, Western Australia in the 1890s, northern Tasmania in late 1890s and early 1900s, and, earlier, across the Tasman in Dunedin in the 1860s. This paper examines these apparent boom styles to better understand the phenomenon and its triggers.


Publication title

Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 33, Gold




A Brennan & P Goad






School of Architecture and Design



Place of publication


Event title

33rd Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: Gold

Event Venue


Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright unknown

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Conserving the historic environment

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania