No sacrifice in sunshine, Walter Liberty Vernon : architect 1846-1914

Boyd, N 2010, No sacrifice in sunshine, Walter Liberty Vernon : architect 1846-1914, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Design, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title No sacrifice in sunshine, Walter Liberty Vernon : architect 1846-1914
Author(s) Boyd, N
Year 2010
Abstract This thesis traces the emergence of the Free Style, advocated by the designers of the Art and Crafts Movement, in the public architecture of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. From 1890, when the English-trained architect Walter Liberty Vernon was appointed Government Architect, the formality of neoclassical architecture, favoured by a succession of Colonial Architects, vanished in favour of less monumental designs that revived traditional building arts, often employing colonial Australian forms. I have traced the evolution of the architectural work of Vernon and the Government Architect’s Branch (GAB) of the NSW Public Works Department from the Queen Anne Revival through the Federation style to the Arts and Crafts Free Style. I have also traced Vernon’s early work, beginning with his initial training in London and his work in Sydney in the 1880s. Vernon’s design work shows him to have become an advocate of the utopian socialism promoted by the leading theorists of the Arts and Crafts Movement. A strong social consciousness can be seen in the buildings designed by the GAB under Vernon, with a focus on the design of well-lit, well-ventilated, simply furnished and unornamented public buildings.

It is not simply in the handcrafted detailing of the state’s public buildings that the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement are apparent. I also aim to show how the improvements to the overall planning of institutions and the changes in the architectural style of public buildings reflect the social conscience of the Movement, whilst creating a designed environment. Vernon’s application of the ideals of the Art and Crafts Movement stretched far beyond designing individual highly-crafted buildings, encompassing the emerging disciplines of town planning and the Garden City Movement. In NSW the Free Style became the style of institutional reform, employed not only in the design of hospitals and asylums, but also in the design of workers’ housing and educational facilities across the state, including in the widespread urban renewal and suburban improvement undertaken in Sydney post 1900. Vernon’s legacy to the state of NSW is a series of elegant public buildings that employ the traditional arts of building: schools, hospitals and asylums, post offices, courthouses, police stations and workers’ housing.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Design
Keyword(s) Australian architecture
public architecture
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Created: Wed, 17 Nov 2010, 14:28:57 EST
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