Modern Buildings of Power – Judiciary, Administration and Political

Docomomo Australia Fiches 2009

Modern Buildings of Power – Judiciary, Administration and Political

Like any other modern nation Australia has used architecture to define its institutions that are symbolic of power and government. As a relatively young nation, Australia has particularly drawn on the evolving language of Modernism to define such institutions in the 20th century.

The youngest building included in the Australian selection is the national Parliament House, (1980-88). Although arguably built at the end of the Modernist period, the design sits within a late Modern idiom and is the most significant and awarded civic building in Australia since the Sydney Opera House. The extensive building and landscaping forms a centre-piece in the national capital plan of Canberra and is symbolic of the Australian democratic system.

Canberra has many other significant modern buildings of power, but the High Court and National Gallery of Australia is singled out as another very significant civic group. The precinct exemplifies Australia’s explorations into the late-Modern brutalist language.

The Warringah Council Civic Centre in suburban Sydney is also representative of the late-Modern brutalist language that preceded the High Court and was adopted for a number of urban, civic centres and community buildings.

With the large size of the country, Australian states and their capital cities have always played an important role in the governing of the nation. This sense of distance from the centre of national power is particularly felt in Western Australia, where the capital city of Perth is the site of judicial, political and administrative power for 1/3 of the country. Dumas House in Perth has been selected as representative of the extent of this state government administration. The prominent post-war tower, overlooking the city, displays climatic inflection of the international commercial modern idiom.

Of course not all significant sites of civic power are confined to city and suburban settings. A number of notable modern local government and administrative complexes were built in regional centres in the mid-20th century, and Warracknabeal Town Hall stands out as a fine example of a Dudok-inspired town hall in country Victoria.

Editor working party: Hannah Lewi


FICHE 1
Current name of the building: PARLIAMENT HOUSE, AUSTRALIA
Place: CANBERRA
Design by: MITCHELL/GIURGOLA & THORP ARCHITECTS
Date: 1980-88
Type: PARLIAMENT and GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION
Editor fiche: ERIC MARTIN
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FICHE 2
Current name of the building: NATIONAL GALLERY & HIGH COURT of AUSTRALIA PRECINCT
Place: CANBERRA
Design by: EDWARDS MADIGAN TORZILLO & BRIGGS
Date: 1972-1982
Type: PUBLIC BUILDINGS – CULTURAL, LEGAL
Editor fiche: ERIC MARTIN
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FICHE 3
Current name of the building: DUMAS HOUSE
Place: PERTH
Design by: PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, WA
Date: 1961-65
Type: PUBLIC BUILDINGS – GOVERNMENT, ADMIN
Editor fiche: HANNAH LEWI
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FICHE 4
Current name of the building: WARRINGAH COUNCIL, CIVIC CENTRE and LIBRARY
Place: DEE WHY, SYDNEY
Design by: EDWARDS MADIGAN TORZILLO & BRIGGS
Date: 1970-73
Type: PUBLIC BUILDINGS – GOVERNMENT, ADMIN
Editor fiche: SCOTT ROBERTSON
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FICHE 5
Current name of the building: WARRACKNABEAL TOWN HALL
Place: WARRACKNABEAL
Design by: SEABROOK and FILDES
Date
: 1938-40
Type: PUBLIC BUILDINGS – GOVERNMENT, ADMIN
Editor fiche
: CHRISTINE PHILLIPS
Fiche PDF

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