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Australian Architecture : Francis Greenway's Hyde Park Barracks

Updated on December 30, 2017
Francis Greenway’s, HYDE PARK BARRACKS, Sydney, NSW, 1817-19

The age of Macquarie (1810-21) for the new settlement is considered one of the most enlightened, fair and forward looking. Early settlement had produced woeful building standards and erratic planning procedures centered largely on various levels of self interest. Macquarie sought to change this situation by instigating public building policy and stimulating broader growth.With stiff opposition he emancipated reformed convicts in a humanitarian approach to progressing the colony for all its people. The English justice system of the time was extremely harsh when considering the punishment and the crime. A man such as Francis Greenway, himself a competent architect/builder in England, could find himself deported to the other side of the world for what Freeman suggests as being merely misfortune (fraud in fact). Fortunately, the character and skill of the man was recognized by Macquarie who seems to have an ability to realize means and ends. Hyde Park Barracks represents the qualities that exemplify Greenway’s skill in producing buildings of simplicity and proportion within the strictness of economy and means present at these early colonial times. Raising the level of craftsmanship through his teaching and persistence whilst also maintaining the discipline necessary to eliminate any non-essentials here produced an elegant and harmonious building of deceiving scale. As Freeman tells us, “…he had built just a barn- but a very handsome barn.”

(The integrity of form and knowledge of materials to produce ‘lean’ buildings of no waste is quite apt to our age of sustainability.)


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