Streetscapes vary greatly from suburb to suburb depending on factors such as age, density, land use, and ethnicity.
Suburbs close to the city centre, or parts of suburbs which are close to major transport nodes are more likely to have streetscapes impacted by high densities housing developments. In older areas, this may mean fairly uniform streetscapes with blocks of 2 to 4 storey, red brick or cream unit blocks, limited trees, and garages visible from the street. In newer developments much larger blocks of units are likely with many balconies facing towards the street, large driveways and some landscaping.
Suburbs with distinct heritage features will often have the facades of shop fronts preserved to reflect the period of development. An example of this is The Strand, the main street of Croydon, and nearby Edwin st. The railway station and commercial properties including the Croydon Post Office are considered significant buildings and have been preserved. The commercial streetscape is a broad shopping street with gardens running down the middle of the street. Shops have recessed balconies, semi-circular brick arches, parapets, stained glass and glazed, and ceramic tiles. A wide awning joins the shops together, and heritage colours are used. Homes in the Victorian, Federation and Californian Bungalow styles are common in nearby streets. Residential streetscapes in Croydon are dominated by tree lined streets, chimney stacks, gables, and ridge capping. Homes are usually set back from the road, providing a uniform look along the street.
Suburbs with a distinct ethnic character often have this reflected in the streetscape. Signs are often multi-lingual, and cultural symbols are often seen in architecture or public art works. The streetscape of Cabramatta reflects the dominance of Vietnamese and China culture. John Street, the main street, is dominated by the Pailau Chinese gateway, adorned with Chinese symbols, and script in Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer and English. Nearby a number of stone statues of animals line the main street. These animals, including dragons and lions, are considered in Chinese culture to bring luck and prosperity. The streetscape is also influenced by the prevalence of shops trading beyond the boundaries of their shops out onto the footpath. This gives the main street a “market-style” feel and look. Red and gold trim are also used on many shops which further contributes to the Asian-influenced streetscape. Temples and shrines have also influenced the streetscapes of Cabramatta, with the use of gateways, stone statues, vibrant red, yellows, blues and gold.
Low-density, suburban development of Sydney followed World War II. It was constrained by a shortage of housing materials and as a result, fibro cement became popular for working class houses in areas such as Fairfield, Guildford, Liverpool, Blacktown and Penrith. Some cream and red brick homes were also built in these areas. Many of these homes have been subjected to the “knock-down rebuild” phenomenon and as a result suburbs in these areas have streetscapes which are varied with a mix or older housing and new. Brick was used for homes in middle class areas such as Winston Hills.
On the outskirts of Sydney, as land becomes available for development it is common for housing developers such as Delfin and Mirvac to develop land enmasse using a set of standard houses to create designed suburbs, or masterplanned estates. The result is somewhat uniformed streetscapes of McMansions. Homes close to the street, with large garages, vaulted entries, columns, and large windows. Roofs lack eaves to allow house to be built closer together, and are built with narrow fenceless frontyards to make the most of available land. These estates are common in Kellyville, Baulkham Hills and Castle Hill, and many areas currently under development.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.