About the exhibition at the State Library of Victoria
Explore the work of Peter Wille, who amassed a collection of more than 6000 colour photographs of Melbourne’s architectural wonders throughout the 1950s and ’60s.
This amateur photographer and architectural draftsman took images that capture a period of experimental design, from the austerity measures of post-WWII to the height of modernism.
The exhibition includes works by groundbreaking architects Robin Boyd, Peter McIntyre, Kevin Borland, and John and Phyllis Murphy.
Plan your visit
Hours: 10am–6pm daily, to 9pm on Thursdays
Dates: Saturday, 1 December 2018–Thursday, 30 April 2020|Cost: FreeVenue: South Rotunda
- ‘The changing face of Victoria’ tour
- World of the book
Browse a range of slides and images from Peter Wille’s archive of more than 6000 images.
About Peter Wille
Peter Wille (1931–71) had an unflagging passion for architecture. Emigrating from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) with his wife during the 1950s, he settled in the newly developed suburb of Mount Waverley, in Melbourne’s south-east.
Wille was employed by the firm Smith, Tracey, Lyon & Brock as an architectural draftsman, and he also contributed to the architectural journal Building ideas. In his spare time, he photographed buildings across Melbourne, particularly in pockets of the south-east, compiling a vast archive of more than 6000 meticulously annotated colour slides.
In 1955, Wille began corresponding with architect Robin Boyd. Over the next 15 years, they developed a friendship centred on sharing and critiquing ideas.
On 16 November 1971, Wille was killed in a tragic road accident while out photographing a building. His death came only one month after that of Robin Boyd.
Peter Wille’s carefully compiled archive is not only a significant record of a critical period in Australian architecture, it also illustrates one person’s love of the buildings, environment and ideas that surrounded him.
Melbourne in the mid-20th century underwent significant social and cultural change. Following WWII, limited access to building materials forced architects to experiment with design and to develop innovative construction techniques.
Housing, in particular, reflected postwar optimism, with simple, open buildings that considered the needs of their occupants. Architects also responded to the environment, from the bush in Eltham and Warrandyte to the bayside suburbs of Beaumaris, Aspendale and Frankston, and to riverside sites along the Yarra in Kew, Toorak and South Yarra.
Australian architects of this period were influenced by the experimentation in Europe during the 1920s and ’30s, and American residential architecture of the 1940s. It was in this context that the ground-breaking architect, design advocate and critic Robin Boyd emerged.
Along with his contemporaries – including Roy Grounds, Frederick Romberg, Peter McIntyre, Neil Clerehan, Kevin Borland, Graeme Gunn, and John and Phyllis Murphy – Boyd drove a cultural shift towards alternative ways of living.
The Library’s architecture collection
Interested in architecture? The Library’s architecture collection spans a wealth of resources, from books to journals, photographs to architectural drawings, elevations to specs and correspondence.
View collection items online
Our collection includes a treasure trove of images and resources relating to Peter Wille, including thousands of his iconic photographs.
Boyd House II
Browse Peter Wille’s collection of photos capturing the evolution of Robin Boyd’s iconic Walsh Street home.
Please note that opening hours for The Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, Victoria Gallery and some other spaces differ to the Library’s main opening hours