Influenced by international trends, from about 1910 the villa gradually gave way to the bungalow style.

Though the word ‘bungalow’ is derived from Hindustani word ‘bangla’, the origins of the bungalow in New Zealand are uncertain.

Jeremy Salmond, in Old New Zealand Houses 1800 – 1940, says that New Zealand’s bungalow-style housing was directly inspired by bungalows from the west coast of the United States, and that US bungalows in turn were influenced by Japanese architecture. Certainly, from 1918, kitset ‘Californian’ bungalows were imported into New Zealand from the west coast of North America and Canada.

Other writers, however, have argued that the New Zealand bungalow style followed similar developments in Britain and Australia.

As well as kitsets, bungalows were popularised by draughtspeople, who produced books of standardised plans. Architects also adopted the style and made it distinctly New Zealand.

By the early 1920s, the bungalow was the predominant style of house being built in New Zealand. While the art deco style became popular in the 1930s, in some areas bungalows were built up until World War 2..

The transitional villa

From about 1910, designers and builders started to incorporate bungalow features into New Zealand villas, creating a style describe by Jeremy Ashford as ‘the transitional villa’. In the first stage, the bungalow retained the villa plan (see villa layout) but some features changed. 

Typically, early transitional villas featured a pyramid roof (instead of the central valley roof of earlier villas). The roof was also of lower pitch, and incorporated the veranda. 

Other features included exposed rafter eaves (replacing boxed eaves), wider eaves, and reduced veranda decoration.

A second stage of transitional villa (Figure 1) retained these features but also had a more informal plan/layout, and (sometimes) two separate verandas – one for the front entry and one accessible only from inside, creating an early indoor/outdoor flow.

A third stage was the evolution into the distinct bungalow style (Figure 2) and included a large, deep, projecting verandah; extended barge boards in a variety of profiles; and a lower roof pitch.

See siting, layout and form for typical bungalow features.

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Bungalows today

Bungalows are found throughout the country and have largely survived in their original form, though some have had the front balconies enclosed or have been extended at the side or rear, and some have been painted inside (see common modifications). 

Many bungalows are in need of upgrading to improve their energy efficiency and generally bring them up to the standard expected of 21st century housing. It is important, in doing this, to identify and understand the home’s unique features – bungalows have a distinctive character that can be easily lost or destroyed in renovations.