A bungalow is a type of building, originally from Bengal region in South Asia, but now found throughout the world. Across the world, the meaning of the word bungalow varies. Common features of many bungalows include verandas and being low-rise. In Australia, the California bungalow was popular after the First World War. In North America and the United Kingdom a bungalow today is a residential building, normally detached, may contain small loft, which is either single-story or has a second story built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows (one-and-a-half stories). Some portable classrooms are called bungalows.
The term originated in India, deriving from the Gujarati બંગલો baṅgalo, meaning "Bengali" and used elliptically for a "house in the Bengal style". This Asian architectural form and design originated in the countryside of Bengal region in South Asia. Such houses were traditionally small, only one story and detached, and had a wide veranda. The term was first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe "bungales or hovells" in India for English sailors of the East India Company. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj, and was so known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, and began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban houses built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style—essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Later developers began to use the term for smaller houses.
Bungalows are very convenient for the homeowner in that all living areas are on a single-storey and there are no stairs between living areas. A bungalow is well suited to persons with impaired mobility, such as the elderly or those in wheelchairs.
Neighbourhoods of only bungalows offer more privacy than similar neighbourhoods with two-storey houses. With bungalows, strategically planted trees and shrubs are usually sufficient to block the view of neighbours. With two-storey houses, the extra height requires much taller trees to accomplish the same, and it may not be practical to place such tall trees close to the house to obscure the view from the second floor of the next door neighbour. They are a very cost-effective way of living. On the other hand, even closely spaced bungalows make for quite low-density neighbourhoods, contributing to urban sprawl. In Australia, bungalows have broad verandas and as a result are often excessively dark inside, requiring artificial light even in daytime.
Cost and space considerations
On a per unit area basis (e.g. per square metre or per square foot), bungalows are more expensive to construct than two-storey houses because a larger foundation and roof area is required for the same living area. The larger foundation will often translate into larger lot size requirements as well. This is why bungalows are typically fully detached from other houses and do not share a common foundation or party wall: if the homeowner can afford the extra expense of a bungalow relative to a two-storey house, they can typically afford to be fully detached as well.
Though the 'footprint' of a bungalow is often a simple rectangle, any foundation is possible. For bungalows with brick walls, the windows are often positioned high and are right to the roof. This avoids the need for special arches or lintels to support the brick wall above the windows. In two-storey houses, there is no choice but to continue the brick wall above the window (and the second-storey windows may be positioned high and right to the roof.)
Usage of the term 'bungalow' across the world
The Federation Bungalow style swept across Australia as early as 1891 in Camberwell, Victoria, and through Sydney's northern suburbs after 1895. The developer Richard Stanton built in Federation Bungalow style first in Haberfield, New South Wales, the first Garden Suburb (1901), and then in Rosebery, New South Wales (1912). Beecroft, Hornsby and Lindfield contain many examples of Federation Bungalows built between 1895 and 1920.
The bungalow style often referred to as California Bungalow was very popular in Australia and New Zealand from about 1910 to 1930. The style seems to have first been imported in Sydney and then spread throughout the Australian states and New Zealand.
In the rural areas of Bangladesh, (the region which Bungalows are named after), it is often called “Bangla Ghor” (Bengali Style House). The Bungalow style houses are still very popular in the rural Bengal. The main construction material used in modern time is corrugated steel sheets. Previously they had been constructed from wood, bamboo and a kind of straw called “Khar”. Khar was used in the roof of the Bungalow house and kept the house cold during hot summer days. Another roofing material for Bungalow houses has been red clay tiles.
Canada uses the definition of bungalow to mean a single-family dwelling that is only one storey high.
Bungalows became popular in the United Kingdom between the two World Wars and very large numbers were built, particularly in coastal resorts, giving rise to the pejorative adjective, "bungaloid", first found in the Daily Express from 1927: "Hideous allotments and bungaloid growth make the approaches to any city repulsive". Many villages and seaside resorts have large estates of 1960s bungalows, usually occupied by retired people. The typical 1930s bungalow is square in plan, with 1960s ones more likely to be oblong. It is rare for just "bungalow" to be used in British English to denote a house having other than a single storey, in which case "chalet bungalow", (see below) is used.
In India, the term bungalow or villa refers to any single-family unit (i.e., a house), as opposed to an apartment building, which is the norm for Indian middle-class city living. The normal custom for an Indian bungalow is one storey, but as time progressed many resorted to larger two-storey homes with families and pets. The area with bungalows built in 1920s -1930s in New Delhi, is now known as Lutyens' Bungalow Zone and is an architectural heritage area. In Bandra, a suburb of India's commercial capital Mumbai, numerous colonial-era bungalows exist although they are under threat from ongoing development.
In a separate usage, the dak bungalows formerly used by the British mail service now variously function as centers of local government or as rural hostels.
The bungalow is the most common house built in the Irish countryside. During the Celtic Tiger years though, there was a decline in the number of bungalows for the more favoured two-storey or dormer bungalows. Bungalows became popular as there was a trend in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland of people moving into rural areas and buying their own plots of land. Often these plots were large; so, a one-storey building was more practical, particularly for retired people.
Singapore and Malaysia
In Singapore and Malaysia, one use of the term bungalow is to refer to a house which was built during the colonial era. The structures were constructed “from the early 19th century until the end of World War II.” They were built by the British to house their “military officers, High Court judges and other members of the colonial society’s great and good.”
At present, there is still a high demand for colonial-era bungalows in Singapore and Malaysia. Most of the units are largely used as residences. Over the years, some have been transformed into offices, hotels, galleries, spas and restaurants.
Post-colonialism, the term bungalow has been adapted and used to refer to any stand-alone residence, regardless of size, architectural style, or era in which it was built. Calling a house a bungalow often carries with it connotations of the price and status of the residence, and thus the wealth of its owner. Local real estate lingo commonly includes the word "bungalow" when referring to residences that are more normally described as "detached houses", "single-family homes" or even "mansions" in other countries. In fact, the pervasiveness of the word in the local jargon has resulted in bungalow being imported into the Malay language as the word banglo with the same meaning.
In South Africa, the term bungalow never refers to a residential house but means a small holiday house, a small log house or a wooden beach house.
Types of bungalow
American Craftsman bungalow
The American Craftsman bungalow typified the common styles of the American Arts and Crafts movement, with common features usually including low-pitched roof lines on a gabled or hipped roof, deeply overhanging eaves, exposed rafters or decorative brackets under the eaves, and a front porch beneath an extension of the main roof. Two of the manufacturing companies that produced kits and sold them from catalogues for construction on sites during the turn of the 19th century were the Sears Company and The Aladdin Company.
A special use of the term bungalow developed in the greater New York City area, between the 1930s and 1970s to denote a cluster of small rental summer homes, usually in the Catskill Mountains in the area known as the Borscht Belt. First and second generation Jewish-American families were especially likely to rent such homes. The old bungalow colonies continue to exist in the Catskills, mainly occupied today by Hasidic Jews.
The California bungalow was a widely popular one-and-a-half storey variation on the bungalow in America from 1910 to 1925. It was also widely popular in Australia within the period 1910–1940.
A bungalow with loft comes with a second-storey loft. The loft may be extra space over the garage. It is often space to the side of a great room with a vaulted ceiling area. The house is still classified and marketed as a bungalow with loft because the main living areas of the house are on one floor. All the convenience of single floor living still applies and the loft is not expected to be accessed on a daily basis.
Some houses have extra bedrooms in the loft or attic area. Such houses are really one-and-a-half storeys and not bungalows, and are referred to in British English as "chalet bungalows" or as "dormer bungalows". "Chalet bungalow" is also used in British English for where the area enclosed within pitched roof contains rooms, even if this comprises a large part of the living area and is fully integrated into the fabric of the property.
True bungalows do not use the attic. Because the attic is not used, the roof pitch can be quite shallow, constrained only by snow load considerations.
The majority of Chicago bungalows were built between 1910 and 1940. They were typically constructed of brick (some including decorative accents), with one-and-a-half stories and a full basement. With more than 80,000 bungalows, the housing style represents nearly one-third of Chicago’s single-family housing stock. One primary difference between the Chicago bungalow and other types is that the gables are parallel to the street, rather than perpendicular. Like many other local homes, Chicago bungalows are relatively narrow, being an average of 20 feet (6.1 m) wide on a standard 24-foot (7.3 m) or 25-foot (7.6 m) wide city lot. Their veranda (porch) may either be open or partially enclosed (if enclosed, it may further be used to extend the interior rooms).
There are numerous examples of Arts and Crafts bungalows built from 1910 to 1925 in the metro-Detroit area, including Royal Oak, Pleasant Ridge, Hazel Park, Highland Park and Ferndale. Keeping in line with the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, the bungalows were constructed using local building materials.
A large fraction of the older houses in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are bungalows in a similar Arts and Crafts style to those of Chicago, but usually with the gable perpendicular to the street. Also, many Milwaukee bungalows have white stucco on the lower portion of the exterior.
A raised bungalow is one in which the basement is partially above ground. The benefit is that more light can enter the basement with above ground windows in the basement. A raised bungalow typically has a foyer at ground level that is halfway between the first floor and the basement. This further has the advantage of creating a foyer with a very high ceiling without the expense of raising the roof or creating a skylight. Raised bungalows often have the garage in the basement. Because the basement is not that deep, and the ground must slope downwards away from the house, the slope of the driveway is quite shallow. This avoids the disadvantage of steep driveways found in most other basement garages. Bungalows without basements can still be raised, but the advantages of raising the bungalow are much less.
A ranch bungalow is a bungalow organized so that bedrooms are on one side and "public" areas (kitchen, living/dining/family rooms) are on the other side. If there is an attached garage, the garage is on the public side of the house so that a direct entrance to the house is possible, when this is allowed by legislation. On narrower lots, public areas are at the front of the house and such an organization is typically not called a "ranch bungalow". Such houses are often smaller and have only two bedrooms in the back as required.
The term ultimate bungalow is commonly used to describe a very large and detailed Craftsman-style home in the United States. The design is usually associated with such California architects as Greene and Greene, Bernard Maybeck, and Julia Morgan.
- Oxford English Dictionary, "bungalow"; Online Etymology Dictionary
- Oxford English Dictionary, unless "hovells" meant haveli rather than the English word "hovel"
- First cited use of a building in Britain by the OED in 1903.
- OED, "bungaloid"
- Davison, Julian (2006). Black and White: The Singapore House 1898–1941. Talisman Publishing Pte Ltd. ISBN 981052739X.
- "Black and whites draw many expats, The Straits Times, Friday, October 14, 2011". p. B22.
- "Table Talk: Singapore's This Old House, The New York Times, Sunday, September 23, 2007". p. 618.
- What is a Chicago Bungalow?, Historic Chicago Bungalow Association
- The Chicago Bungalow, Field Guide to Chicago Area Buildings