ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Australian Architecture : Regional Modernism

Updated on December 30, 2017

Regional Modernism in Australian Architecture c.1940-60's

The tyranny of distance that offers both help and hindrance to Australia’s exposure to larger international developments delayed, too, the arrival of the modernist International Style architectural tenets from Europe. Much of the social ideology, aesthetic dogma and theoretical rhetoric underpinning European architectural thought was either diluted on the delayed journey, or incompatible with the pragmatic, largely conservative Australian character, conditioned at the time to suburban ownership and largely ‘featurist’ tendencies. Modernism in Australia thus had a certain freedom of interpretation. As Robin Boyd has stated, there could be an ‘appropriation of particular overseas modernisms by Australian architects to image a particular notion of modernity.’1.

Distance acted as a hindrance in isolating the country socially and technologically, but also as help in allowing a sufficient remoteness for retaining an identifiable regional attitude. Adaptation to available technologies, resources and climate was necessary. In this way Australia’s exposure to modern architecture is comparable to that of Finland or the US West Coast, in so much as it allowed a modernist vocabulary to be adapted to a local way of life. 2.

With distance comes the ability to transform ideas into a new context, giving them new meanings.3.. From within the slow, often wary shift toward a modern architecture into the Australian context emerged the deeply contrasting ‘meanings’ from the two major cities, Melbourne and Sydney. A country of such variance in climate, history, topography and availability of natural materials would be expected to produce regional variations in its architecture. These distinctive conditions in turn produce cultural ‘attitudes’, which often result in exaggeration and the subsequent dominance of certain regional components over others, often resulting in imbalances and placing of arbitrary importance onto certain cultural precepts.4.

In the case of Sydney, this attitude is centered on the natural landscape and bush myth, while Melbourne has always dealt predominately with its man made institutions due to a generally dull natural setting. Sydney provides a setting for life, while Melbourne is concerned with more pre-determined ideas.5. Such stark separation of regions has a certain credence. However, these generalizations do not consider Melbourne’s coastal and bush carpentry traditions, nor adequately recognize the formality in some early Sydney School work of Sydney Ancher, or the structural determinism of W.E.Lucas.

Nevertheless a functional formalism in Melbourne and an organic, romanticism in Sydney, generated by their respective regional attitudes, largely determined each cities interpretation of modernism.

1.Winsome Callister “Dealing with the Sydney School…”, in Transition, Sept.1987, p.5

2.Francoise Fromonot, Christopher Thompson, Sydney:History of a Landscape, Vilo Publishing, Paris 2000, p.75

3. Rory Spence “The Concept of Regionalism Today”in, Transition, July 1985, p.4

4. ibid.

5. Rory Spence “Australian Regionalism” in, Architectural Review, December 1985, pp.27,62


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)