Docomomo Australia Modern Register

Transport (TRT)

The Australian Working Party selected a variety of building types and styles within the broader tenants of Modernism to exemplify the theme of “Other Modernisms”. This theme encompasses non-western and non-canonical works, other agencies and identities including those motivated by race, gender and class, the more ordinary and everyday, and the stylistically impure and the hybrid. It is therefore a theme of importance and relevance to the documentation of Australian Modernism in its many guises. Examples selected for documentation include: Manly Ferry Wharf, Sydney (1941); McIntyre House, Melbourne (1955); Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne (1956-59); Preshil School, Melbourne (1962-72); the Former Readers Digest Building (1964-67); and the Cameron Offices, Canberra (1968-1977).

The Manly Ferry Wharf was selected as an example of modern architecture’s role in creating public infrastructure and new buildings types devoted to recreation that were popular and optimistic in design. While Preshil School (Borland architects) constitutes a unique collection of buildings for a school founded on progressive and experimental education ideals. Vernacular materials and non-rectilinear geometries were responsive to children’s imagination and experience. In the Readers Digest Building, the architect John James also explored a non-conventional expression of concrete elements ad integrated sculptural details by the Australian sculptor Douglas Anand.

The Cameron Offices (John Andrews architects) situated in the national capital realised an experimental vision of how a large government organisation could function on an urban scale. John Andrews here designed a Brutalist concrete network of buildings and landscaped exterior spaces. The McIntyre House was also motivated by an interest, at a vernacular scale, in daring structural expression and risk, which was a preoccupation shared by a number of architects in Melbourne in the 1950s and ’60s.

(Editor working party: Associate Professor Hannah Lewi)