Other 1930s building styles

Alongside art deco, the Spanish mission and other building styles also appeared during the 1930s.

Spanish mission style

Although the Spanish mission style had different origins to the art deco house, it had many similar construction features.

It originated in the hot, southern part of North America where the construction consisted of thick, plastered adobe walls, a flat or hipped roof concealed behind a parapet that had half-round Spanish tiles along the top of the parapet.

An internal courtyard was surrounded by deeply arcaded verandahs, the exterior facades of the house featured narrow, deep-set windows protected by wrought iron security screens, and a single access gate completed the security of the house.

While this style suited the local North American climate, it did not translate well to the New Zealand climate.

The New Zealand version of the Spanish mission style (figure 1) typically included:

  • poured concrete (which provide the extra depth for setback windows and interior reveals)
  • a heavier texture to stucco (compared to the art deco style) to more ‘authentically’ replicate the adobe
  • half-round drain pipes to replace the Spanish tiles
  • a flat or low-pitched roof clad with corrugated iron
  • tall narrow windows with arched heads that were sometimes flanked by timber shutters
  • false timber beams protruding from the wall at roof level • a walled garden to replace the internal courtyard.


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Other styles

‘Stripped classical’ and ‘prairie style’ also featured during the 1930s. Some architects, such as Napier-based Louis Hay, were heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, and produced prairie style houses around this time.