The History Behind Australian Architecture

The History Behind Australian Architecture

October 17, 2016

Inside Opera House in Sydney

Australia’s most famous example of architecture is undoubtedly, the Sydney Opera House. Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, the stunning building with elegant features, beautifully accentuates the bay area. Forty-two years ago, when the Opera House was built, it was the end result of a design competition. During this time, Australia sought inspiration from Europe and America for architectural choices. Now, arguably, the country has finally come into its own, showcasing a brand new image. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. To understand where the Australian architectural landscape is today, we have to know where it originated.

The British Were Coming

Before the British settlers arrived on the shores of Australia, the buildings there were mainly nomadic shelters. Hardly surprisingly, since we’re taking a long journey back in time to 1788. From then on, the settlers built up Australia with ideas and concepts that originated in Europe. These Eurocentric architectural buildings still exist within the country today. These buildings were naturally, not suitable for the hugely different climate of Australia. In Australia, the climate is perfect for outdoor activities throughout the year and people wanted the buildings to reflect this possibility.

British Influence in Australian Architecture

As such, architectures began to construct buildings that were more open and allowed space to breathe. A beautiful example of this can be found at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building. It was constructed during the 20th century when it wasn’t just the British who were immigrating.

Royal Exhibition Building - Melbourne

An American Footprint

American settlers were keen to implement a derivative of the American dream. Reaching for the Australian version, Americans were more interested in building larger housing. They wanted plenty of space for their families. Massive backyards were included, the likes of which that can still be found in the suburbs of Australia’s cities. Of course, it wasn’t long until Australia’s population rapidly began to grow. At that point, housing suitable for an increasing population was desperately needed. It was during this time, in the 20th century that the Australian cities started to expand into what they are today. Many of the designs introduced at this time stretched beyond the boundaries of European or even American styles. Instead, architectures searched for inspiration from further afield such as Southeast Asia.

American Influence in Australia's History of Architecture

Australian Architecture Today

After seeking inspiration from other countries, Australia now has a unique architectural style. There are many incredible examples of architecture in Australia that are completely unique. For instance, the New Parliament House in Canberra is a brilliant and creative design. The place for Australian government is intended as an area for a working parliament and a symbol for the nation. A birdseye view of this building demonstrates that beautifully.

The Architecture in Canberra

Or there is the Australia Square, built 1976. With a unique circular design and an open floor for public use at ground level, it is completely unique and an inspired design. It is often held up as a landmark building in Sydney.

As the world changes Australian architects have new challenges on the horizon. The are being tasked with constructed buildings that are energy saving, compact and comfortable. However, if history is anything to go by the architects of this country will certainly be able to rise to the challenge.