What is significant?
The Singapore Cottage now located at 136 Sackville Street (and identified as "N4") has replaced a previous Singapore Cottage (known as A*) that was dismantled in 1998. The cottage A* is now in storage in parts. The identification "N4" refers to markings found on parts of the framing.
Singapore Cottages were a prefabricated building type imported from Singapore in large numbers during the 1850s. A few non-extant examples are known to have been imported from Singapore before this time, but hundreds of Singapore Cottages are known to have been imported into Victoria during the gold rush period, at a time when thousands of prefabricated buildings were being imported. Many were wooden houses, but other materials, such as cast iron, were also favoured for prefabrication.
The construction of a Singapore Cottage is distinctive, with dedaru and meranti timbers of Asian origin, heavy framing techniques, and a variety of Chinese and other characters painted or marked on the timber members; these markings provided an assembly guide to erecting the building.
This example, 30' by 20' (9.14m x 6.1m) was saved in 1993 from a site in St Kilda and was stored in its parts until re-erection at this site in 1998. It is not entirely intact, with some doors, linings and joinery details missing. However the original structural frame, with tell-tale crossovers at the corners of the top and bottom plates, and the extra structural horizontal member through the king posts in the trusses, are important components that diagnose this building as a Singapore Cottage. The external cladding is of butt-jointed sawn meranti boards placed vertically. The roof tiles are Morewood and Rogers patented galvanised iron tiles recycled from the cottage that previously stood on this site.
How is it significant?
The Singapore Cottage at 136 Sackville Street Collingwood is of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Singapore Cottage at 136 Sackville Street Collingwood is historically significant as a very rare surviving example of a once numerous prefabricated building type. It demonstrates the requirement for prefabricated houses in the rapidly expanding colony where, following the gold rushes, there was a shortage of local labour to construct buildings. Emigrants supposed it to be cheaper to import ready made houses with them to Victoria. The house also demonstrates the early trade links established between Melbourne and Singapore.
The Singapore Cottage at 136 Sackville Street Collingwood is architecturally significant as a rare example of a prefabricated building imported from Asia. Thousands of prefabricated buildings of different sorts, materials, sizes and origins were imported to cope with the sudden influx of people and the shortage of labour and materials. The distinctive framing techniques, exotic timbers and Chinese characters clearly identify the Asian origins of this house. This example has been re-erected and has consequently suffered a loss of integrity in some materials but essentially is significant as a rare example of its type.