Australian architecture has undergone considerable evolution to reach its current state. The architectural transformations within the country had many underpinning factors. This situation enabled the country to keep abreast with the changing trends across the world, particularly within the European and the American blocks. In view of this background, this paper explores the distinctive elements in Australia’s engagement with Architectural Modernism or high Modernism.
The world war one and the great depression influenced the Australian architecture by triggering the need for a new mindset for demonstrating regeneration and growth within the country. The journey of modernization forced past traditions to give way to new styles and trends (Modern Australian Architecture, Australia.gov.au). Through this, modernization promoted evolution of architecture based on the availability of technologies, new materials, as well as ideals (Howells & Nicholson 121). This opened up new possibilities and methods of achieving building and planning.
The unique climatic conditions in Australia prompted the need for adaptations. Because of this, the American urban designs, particularly those created by Richardson offered significant influences in Australian modern architectural trends (Architecture, Architecturestyles.org). This led to the diversification of cultural tastes, as well as the needs of an increasingly multicultural Australian society.
The Australian modernist architecture places emphasis on function. The architecture provides for specific needs instead of imitating nature. Main features evident in this architecture include functionality, minimalism, and geometric shapes. The new technologies and techniques freed Australian architects from past engineering limitations, thereby enabling them to come up with new rational designs that the base of a building’s function (Modern Australian Architecture, Australia.gov.au). The new materials included steel, reinforced concrete and glass. They were mass produced, inexpensive and flexible to use. This transformed the conservative tendency within Australian society.
Some distinctive elements of Australian architecture have come about due to climate, place, history, and identity. The modern Australian architecture is an expression of a local identity that balances the ideals of art and architecture against the prevailing local climate and social realities (Australian Architecture, Australia.gov.au). The most modern Australian architecture features bold and strong horizontal spandrels. They also have long windows for letting in maximum daylight. They also have single span across every floor, which means that no columns interrupt the interior spaces.
Architects such as Robin Boyd, Harry Seidler and Roy Grounds contributed significantly to the realization of modern Australian architecture (Australian Institute of Architects, Architecture.com.au). They applied modernist-style principles into homes in the Australian, thereby giving a new sense of architecture, distinctive in the Australian context.
Federation houses are examples of distinctive Australian architecture. This was the version of the English Edwardian House. It uses Australian motifs, roof of terracotta tiles, detailed fretwork in the roof gables, as well as windows. This distinctive element has been evident in Australian modern architecture (Australian Architecture, Australia.gov.au). The distinctive aspects were that the houses were smaller, fireplaces located in a corner of the room to save space, and the houses required less painting and maintenance. Many houses had round sunrise motifs (Early Construction, Buildreport.com.au).
For instance, it features in the Australian Federation Square. This architectural design in Melbourne creates a square for the future that embraces digital media, thereby creating a new experience of public realm. Distinctive Australian architectural adaptations or styles include Federation styles of residential architecture and the Queenslander. The styles have led to the development of iconic Australian designs, which include Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building, Sydney Opera House, and the 11 remnant penal colony sites chosen in 2010 for World Heritage protection (Architecture, Architecturestyles.org).
The Australian architecture borrowed considerably from other architectures, especially from Europe and North America. They transformed these architectures to meet the prevailing domestic conditions to give rise to distinct designs.