The creation of a streetscape

The entire street has been deemed of local historical significance. Being claimed for its important aesthetic qualities.
The houses were built as flats and described as duplexes in the original application to council dated 29th of November 1940. Produced as speculative housing the idea was conceived at a time in Australia’s history where there was an acknowledgement that there would be a future house shortage. This assumption was based on the anticipated population boom that would occur at the end to the war. Government policies post war would be in favour of encouraging migration to Australia and influencing the baby boomer generation to effect positive population growth. Designed to look like one single house it was created with the provision of accommodation for the increasing population; a semi-detached style which housed more people in a smaller area. The builder RM Bowcock and Francis Ryan the architect were in effect planning a management strategy for the growth of urbanisation.
This speculative housing, proposed by R M Bowcock would soon be a strategy heavily adopted in other towns within cities to manage urban growth. The houses were affordable at the time and not made to be extravagant. Their cost was 1, 300 pounds for the pair. Four Lapish Avenue is one of five pairs of these modest, almost identical semi-detached dwellings which contribute to an intriguing and unified streetscape.

Builder RM Bowcock
Builder RM Bowcock

Bowcock’s building application was accompanied by drawings showing plans, elevations and sections, prepared by the architect, Francis P Ryan. His designs typically borrow from the popular California bungalow style of the time and is indicative of the designs now known as a Sydney bungalows. His designs were developed in the inter war period and as such the designs were simple with limited embellishments. However, he still included the basic domestic provisions expected of the period. Interesting inclusions are the ‘Trade Cupboard’ which was common of the period and the Shaving Cabinet which was built into the bathroom window. The asymmetry at the front of the pair emphasised the increasing informality of domestic life and the art deco influence of horizontal window led light designs are a nod to this type of architecture. The architect of Dulwich Hill has contributed in a meaningfully abundant way to the historical pattern of development in the area.

The architectural design of Francis P. Ryan that stretches along the east side of Lapish Street is a fine example of this architects work. The original building application includes two potential designs but only one was used for the Lapish Avenue streetscape and the other can be found in Alma Street Ashfield. Both design are in very classic Art Deco proportions with lots of balance and symmetry. The design does not include the ‘Art Deco’ motif leadlight glazing in the bay window which was installed during construction but a simpler window design which can be observed in other like properties along the Lapish Avenue streetscape which is a striking feature that was included. As a sizeable collection of houses with compatible structures it works to Demonstrating a way of life in the nineteen forties when land and houses near to the railway station and townships were in high demand.

Built at a time of introduction for semi-detached housing within Sydney the building is in an exemplary condition that is rarely seen. The constructions consist of brick cavity walls and timber framed walls and terra cotta roof tiles. The houses are separated by a party wall. The entrances are at the sides, the front fence was originally brick with decorated wrought iron panels featuring art deco zigzag motif and matching gates. Also notable from the streetscape is the featured typically narrow perimeter garden beds, trimmed hedges and small shrubs which were characteristic features of these house designs. A well detailed example of the Sydney bungalow as well as the introduction of art deco architecture, its significance is further enhanced due to the buildings high degree of intactness. All six pairs of semi-detached retain their original external form, with the exception of number 20 which has painted the external brick in a dark colour and changed the gates.

The collection of semis along the streetscape make up a sizeable remnant of past development that was influenced by this change in popular architecture. The floor plans are virtually identical. With the west side hosting a sunroom window and the east side a bay lead lighted window. Each semi has a full-width bedroom at the front attached to the former mentioned window frontage. The entrance balcony on the side opens into a doglegged entry hall which features curved corners, beside this is the bathroom and a linen press. Beyond that occupying the full width of the house was the sitting room with a corner fireplace and a doorway leading to the dining room, which was combined with a kitchen off which contained a stove, sink and cupboard. The back wall of the dining room led onto the enclosed veranda off which was the laundry containing troughs and a copper boiler. The main bedrooms face West, together these make up an original streetscape which would have been typical of the late 1930s subdivisions. It is a distinctive street scape. One in which if you walk along it, you can imagine being there with those that live there and living as they do.

Physically, Lapish street is a narrow one way street, that is unusual in Ashfield but rather represents its history as a narrow road since being first identified and its size has been maintained. Over the time that these semi’s have stood there has been numerous alterations to the street parking. Before 2012 the parking situation was one where cars parking on the opposite side to the semi’s in question at a 90 degree angle however this has now been changed so that cars can park on both sides of the street parallel to the curb.