Bungalow

A bungalow is a single-storey building often with features such as a veranda, or a dormer window. Bungalows are traditionally small but may occasionally be designed to much larger proportions. Originally, they were designed to provide the working class with affordable, modern accommodation.

Etymology and History of the Bungalow

The word “bungalow” has its origins in India and is derived from the Gujarati word “bańgalo”, which means “Bengali” and loosely translates to “house in the Bengal style”. Originating in the South Asian region of Bengal, these houses were small, had a tile or thatch roof, a single storey, a wide veranda, and were detached. The first known use of the word in English was in 1696 where it was used to refer to “hovels” or “bungales” in India to provide a description for the modest dwellings of English sailors working with the East India Company. Later, it was used to describe the official lodgings of the British Raj officials which were more spacious and exotic.

In Britain and eventually America, the word was used in the late 1800’s to designate big country or suburban homes built in any Western vernacular style, particularly Arts and Crafts. It wasn’t until after World War I that the term began to be used again to refer to smaller lodgings with a single storey.

The role of the Arts and Crafts movement in the success of the American bungalow

The Arts and Crafts movement inspired many American architects and craftsmen to rediscover the benefits of building houses with hand crafted natural materials to create a more holistic life for their dwellers. Other significant movements came under the spotlight at the same time, including nature conservancy, social activism, and the establishment of national parks. A combination of these saw many Americans wanting to have their own homes with small gardens, resulting to the popularity of the bungalow in America.

Pros and cons of bungalows

Bungalows don’t have stairs, and they are small and easy to maintain, an advantage for the elderly and disabled. Bungalows are cost effective after the initial purchase as heating and cooling would cost less, and property value is likely to remain on the high side. With a bungalow, a homeowner has more room to make modifications and additions because of the greater square footage they occupy. The absence of a second storey makes the building process simpler, and utilities can be easily installed. Also, in case of a fire, occupants can easily escape through the doors and windows.

Bungalows make for low-density neighbourhoods even when they are closely spaced. In neighbourhoods where there are only bungalows, trees and shrubs planted strategically can be used to block the view of passersby or neighbours. Meanwhile, with a building of two or more storeys, this would be difficult to achieve or even impractical. The homeowner would need taller trees and planting such tall trees close to the building may not be feasible.

One downside to bungalows is they occupy a larger expanse of land than other buildings that extend up, such as buildings with two storeys or more. This means initial costs will be on the high side as bungalows take more square footage. This could also mean higher costs for roofing since they would normally require more material to complete the roof. Bungalows tend to have smaller rooms and not as many as you might find in a two-storey house for instance. The rooms would likely extend of a larger sitting room and it might not be feasible to implement an open floor plan. Bungalows are more vulnerable to burglaries and break-ins since they are low to the ground.

Types of Bunglows

Craftsman bungalow

Popular between 1900 and 1930, the Craftsman bungalow was a product of the of the American Arts and Crafts movement. The name comes from the Craftsman magazine published by Gustav Stickley between 1901 and 1916. This type of bungalow would normally feature street-facing gables, overhanging eaves, a front porch right under an extension of the roof, and decorative brackets or exposed rafters beneath the eaves.

California bungalow

The California bungalow was an Arts and Crafts style house which featured elements from Swiss chalets and Japanese architecture, and was either one-storey or one-and-a-half storeys. It was hugely popular in America from 1910 to 1925 and moved to Australia in 1913 due to the popularity of Hollywood and the subsequent desire for American products.

Chalet bungalow

These are really buildings with one-and-a-half storeys referred to as “chalet bungalows” or “dormer bungalows” in British English. They come with a second-storey loft, usually with a vaulted ceiling, and may be built over the garage. Despite the loft, this building type is still classified as a bungalow because it retains the feature of a single floor serving as the main living area.

Chicago bungalow

Developed in Chicago in the 1920s, this style has its roots in the workingman’s house of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Often with one and a half storeys and a full basement, they would normally be built with brick. With an open or partially enclosed porch, these narrow bungalows have their gables built to be parallel to the street.

Raised bungalow

Raised bungalows have their basements partially above the ground, with above ground windows that let more light in. They would typically have a foyer at ground level, halfway between the basement and the first floor.

Ranch bungalow

In a ranch bungalow, the bedrooms are on one side while the other areas (public areas) such as the kitchen and living room, are on the other side. The public areas would usually be on the side of the house with the garage or at the front of the building, with the rooms in the back.

There are many other kinds of bungalows including:

  • Queen Ann
  • Mission style
  • Tudor style
  • Prairie style
  • Four square
  • Period revival styles such as Spanish, pueblo, log, and colonial.
  • Ultimate bungalow
  • Milwaukee bungalow
  • Michigan bungalow
  • Bungalow colony

Related Questions

Published on 8th June 2017

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