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The social meaning of
classical style public architecture
in Adelaide in the 19th century
Deborah Arthur
Bachelor of Archaeology
Department of Archaeology
School of Humanities
Flinders University of South Australia
October 2004
CONTENTS .................................................................................................................. i
FIGURES ....................................................................................................................iii
TABLES...................................................................................................................... vi
ABSTRACT ..............................................................................................................viii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................................................................ ix
CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION............................................................................... 1
Style and social meaning in historical archaeology ..................................................... 6
Classical style architecture – A background .............................................................. 11
Classical style architecture in Britain and British colonies........................................ 17
Classical style architecture in Adelaide...................................................................... 30
CHAPTER 3 – METHODOLOGY............................................................................ 37
Study Area.................................................................................................................. 37
Fieldwork.................................................................................................................... 38
Variables for Data Collection..................................................................................... 40
Problems..................................................................................................................... 45
Bias............................................................................................................................. 47
Archival Research ...................................................................................................... 47
CHAPTER 4 – CLASSICAL STYLES IN ADELAIDE........................................... 48
Social and Functional Variables................................................................................. 48
Physical Variables ...................................................................................................... 53
CHAPTER 5 – SOCIAL MEANINGS OF CLASSICAL STYLES.......................... 65
Explicit Social Meanings............................................................................................ 66
Implicit Social Meanings............................................................................................ 77
Adelaide’s Social Meanings....................................................................................... 85
CHAPTER 6 – CONCLUSIONS............................................................................... 86
REFERENCES........................................................................................................... 91
GLOSSARY OF TERMS ........................................................................................ 101
APPENDIX 1 – CLASSICAL ARCHITECTURAL STYLES ............................... 109
APPENDIX 2 – CLASSICAL ARCHITECTURAL ORDERS .............................. 111
COLONIES .............................................................................................................. 118
APPENDIX 4 – GOTHIC BUILDINGS IN ADELAIDE ....................................... 123
APPENDIX 5 – BUILDING RECORDING FORM ............................................... 124
APPENDIX 6 – DATABASE OF BUILDINGS RECORDED............................... 127
APPENDIX 7 – AUSTRALIAN ARCHITECTURAL STYLES............................ 129
APPENDIX 8 – HISTORY OF BUILDINGS IN ADELAIDE............................... 132
APPENDIX 9 – ARCHITECTS............................................................................... 164
- ii -
Figure 1.1 – El Capricho, residence, Barcelona, constructed 1883-1885 ................... 1
Figure 1.2 – Map of Australia, showing location of Adelaide in South Australia ...... 2
Figure 2.1 – Top-down and bottom-up approaches to the study of society .............. 10
Figure 2.2 – Claude Perrault’s representation of the five architectural orders, c. AD
1676 .................................................................................................... 12
Figure 2.3 – Colosseum, Rome, Italy ........................................................................ 13
Figure 2.4 – Temple of Fortuna Primigenia, Palestrina, Italy ................................... 16
Figure 2.5 – Theatre of Marcellus, Rome, Italy ........................................................ 16
Figure 2.6 – Cataneo’s Ideal City plan, 1567............................................................ 34
Figure 2.7 – Torrens Building, Victoria Square ........................................................ 36
Figure 3.1 – J. William’s map of Adelaide showing the town acres......................... 38
Figure 3.2 – Tuscan architectural order..................................................................... 42
Figure 3.3 – Tuscan architectural order .................................................................... 42
Figure 3.4 – Doric architectural order ....................................................................... 42
Figure 3.5 – Doric architectural order ....................................................................... 42
Figure 3.6 – Ionic architectural order ........................................................................ 42
Figure 3.7 – Ionic architectural order ....................................................................... 43
Figure 3.8 – Corinthian architectural order .............................................................. 43
Figure 3.9 – Corinthian architectural order ............................................................... 43
Figure 3.10 – Composite architectural order ............................................................ 43
Figure 3.11 – Composite architectural order ............................................................ 44
Figure 3.12 – Other architectural order .................................................................... 44
Figure 3.13 – Other architectural order ..................................................................... 44
Figure 3.14 – Other architectural order ..................................................................... 44
Figure 4.1 – Functional variables – Original purpose of buildings........................... 49
Figure 4.2 – Map of South Adelaide (city centre) and location of buildings ............ 50
Figure 4.3 – Economic conditions in Adelaide and the construction of classical style
buildings ............................................................................................. 52
Figure 4.4 – Economic conditions in Adelaide and the construction of gothic style
buildings ............................................................................................. 52
Figure 4.5 – Physical variables – Architectural style ................................................ 55
Figure 4.6 – Architectural styles and periods of their use......................................... 57
- iii -
Figure 4.7 – Physical variables – Architectural order ............................................... 59
Figure 4.8 – Architectural orders and periods of their use ........................................ 60
Figure 4.9 – Architectural order and a building’s function ....................................... 61
Figure 4.10 – Physical variables – Symmetry of buildings....................................... 62
Figure 4.11 – Physical variables – Conventional features ........................................ 63
Figure 5.1 – King William Street in 1881, Oil on canvas by Charles Marchand...... 69
Figure 5.2 – North Terrace, Institute building and State Library, Jervois Wing....... 77
Figure A2.1 – Elements of an architectural order ................................................... 111
Figure A2.2 – Comparative Tuscan Orders by several Renaissance theorists ........ 112
Figure A2.3 – Greek Doric Order and various details............................................. 114
Figure A2.4 – Greek Ionic Order and some historical examples ............................ 115
Figure A2.5 – Greek Corinthian Order and some historical examples ................... 116
Figure A2.6 – Composite Order after Vignola........................................................ 117
Figure A3.1 – Parliament House, Melbourne.......................................................... 118
Figure A3.2 – Parliament House, Brisbane ............................................................. 118
Figure A3.3 – Treasury Building, Melbourne ......................................................... 119
Figure A3.4 – Treasury Building, Brisbane ............................................................ 119
Figure A3.5 – General Post Office, Sydney ............................................................ 120
Figure A3.6 – Town Hall, Sydney........................................................................... 120
Figure A3.7 – Law Courts, Melbourne ................................................................... 121
Figure A3.8 – Supreme Court, Hobart .................................................................... 121
Figure A3.9 – National Australian Bank, Brisbane................................................. 122
Figure A8.1 – Magistrates Court, c. 1860 ............................................................... 133
Figure A8.2 – Magistrates Court, 2004, northern façade ........................................ 133
Figure A8.3 – Institute building, c. 1864................................................................. 135
Figure A8.4 – Institute building, 2004, southern façade ......................................... 135
Figure A8.5 – Adelaide Club, 2004, northern façade.............................................. 136
Figure A8.6 – The Gallerie, c. 1903........................................................................ 137
Figure A8.7 – The Gallerie, 2004, northern façade................................................. 137
Figure A8.8 – Supreme Court, c. 1870s .................................................................. 139
Figure A8.9 – Supreme Court, 2004, northern façade ............................................ 139
Figure A8.10 – Proposed plan for General Post Office, c. 1867............................. 142
Figure A8.11 – General Post Office, 2004, southern and eastern facades .............. 142
Figure A8.12 – Town Hall, c. 1866......................................................................... 145
Figure A8.13 – Town Hall, 2004, western façade................................................... 145
- iv -
Figure A8.14 – Treasury Buildings, c. 1866 (part of original 1839 single storey in
right foreground)............................................................................... 147
Figure A8.15 – Treasury Building, 2004, southern façade ..................................... 147
Figure A8.16 – Botanic Hotel, c. 1880s .................................................................. 149
Figure A8.17 – Botanic Hotel, 2004, northern façade ............................................ 149
Figure A8.18 – Bank of South Australia, Royal coat of arms and carved
stone work......................................................................................... 150
Figure A8.19 – Bank of South Australia, 2004, eastern façade .............................. 151
Figure A8.20 – Bank of South Australia, 2004, eastern façade .............................. 151
Figure A8.21 – Bank of Adelaide, c. 1889.............................................................. 153
Figure A8.22 – Bank of Adelaide, 2004, eastern façade......................................... 153
Figure A8.23 – Ambassadors Hotel, c.1890............................................................ 155
Figure A8.24 – Ambassadors Hotel, c 1969............................................................ 155
Figure A8.25 – Ambassadors Hotel, 2004, eastern façade...................................... 155
Figure A8.26 – Proposed plan for Torrens Building, published in Frearson’s
Weekly, 25 September 1880.............................................................. 157
Figure A8.27 – Torrens Building, 2004, western façade ........................................ 157
Figure A8.28 – Newmarket Hotel, c. 1930 ............................................................. 158
Figure A8.29 – Newmarket Hotel, 2004, northern façade ...................................... 158
Figure A8.30 – Jervois Wing, detail of level 2 window.......................................... 159
Figure A8.31 – State Library, Jervois Wing, 2004, southern and eastern facades.. 160
Figure A8.32 – Parliament House on 12 November 1918 (19th century section) ... 163
Figure A8.33 – Parliament House, 2004, southern and eastern facades ................. 163
Table 4.1 – Social and Functional variables.............................................................. 49
Table 4.2 – Physical variables ................................................................................... 54
Table A1.1 – Classical architectural styles over history.......................................... 110
Table A.4.1 – Gothic style public buildings, constructed in the 19th century in
Adelaide – social and functional variables ....................................... 123
- vi -
I certify that this thesis does not incorporate, without acknowledgment, any material
previously submitted for a degree or diploma in any university; and that to the best of
my knowledge and belief it does not contain any material previously published or
written by another person except where due reference is made in the text.
Deborah Arthur
October 2004
- vii -
Adelaide (South Australia’s capital city) has a vast number of classical style public
buildings in the city centre. Many of these buildings were constructed throughout the
19th century, and are still standing today. Classical style public buildings in three
locations: the northern part of King William Street, North Terrace, and Victoria
Square, were analysed for this study. Fieldwork recorded the physical attributes of
the buildings, while historical research noted the social and functional attributes.
The main aim of this study was to discuss the social meanings of classical style
public architecture in Adelaide in the 19th century. Other aims were to examine the
types of classical styles present in Adelaide, whether these styles were prevalent on
public buildings in other Australian capitals and in other British colonies, and what
the influences were for the choice of architectural style. Analysis of architectural
style in Adelaide has shown that architects and other influential individuals were
emulating the behaviour of British elite, and copying historical trends for classical
styles. At the same time there was some resistance against the strict rules governing
traditional forms of classical architecture, providing new styles and orders, which
formed different social meanings.
- viii -
I would like to thank the Directors of Thomson Rossi (Architect Firm), Marino Rossi
and Simon Thomson, and the staff there: for little did they know, they indirectly got
me interested in architecture through working for them in an administrative capacity
for the past 7 years (4 years full-time), and I learnt a lot about architectural concepts
during my time there.
I would like to thank Anne Geddes (Lecturer, Classics Department, Adelaide
University), Tim Owen (PhD, Flinders University), Lyn Travar (Part-time Lecturer,
Architecture Department, Adelaide University), and Mathew Johnson (Professor,
Archaeology Department, University of Southampton, United Kingdom) for their
initial guidance and suggestions for my thesis proposal, whilst I was developing my
idea of studying classical style buildings in Adelaide between October and December
I would like to thank Heather Hales (Manager, The Royal Australian Institute of
Architects, SA Chapter) for suggesting I contact, and for providing contact details
for, Christine Garnaut (Research Fellow, Louis Laybourne Smith School of
Architecture and Design, University of South Australia) and Julie Collins (Archivist,
Australian Architecture Archives and History Research Group, University of South
- ix -
Julie Collins (Archivist, Australian Architecture Archives and History Research
Group, University of South Australia) helped me locate information on 19th century
buildings and architects in Adelaide, and she gave me contact details for further
information. Julie’s assistance was invaluable to this study. Julie’s sister, Susan
Collins, also helped me on certain occasions locate information in the archives, and
her help was appreciated. Christine Garnaut (Research Fellow, Louis Laybourne
Smith School of Architecture and Design, University of South Australia) directed me
to some additional architectural publications and archive repositories in Adelaide,
and her advice was appreciated.
I would like to thank Gini Lee (Architecture Department, University of South
Australia), and Anne Geddes (Lecturer, Classics Department, University of
Adelaide) for their time in seeing me and providing advice on further directions for
my thesis. Di Smith gave me valuable feedback on what was then my ‘History’
chapter, which was appreciated.
Many of my friends were helpful in putting my thesis together; Roger Cross for the
loan of his digital camera; Janine Powell for the loan of her book on colonial
Adelaide; and to everyone studying Honours this year, and to others who attended
the Honours seminars for their feedback on this study. Natasha Paling was
particularly helpful in her discussions about my study when I was struggling to grasp
key archaeological concepts.
I would especially like to thank Aaron Lindsay: for the loan of his digital camera; for
the loan of his laptop to store a backup of my thesis; for borrowing books for me
from the University of South Australia library that were helpful; for giving me the
lovely and helpful gift of a scanner, printer and copier (all-in-one) for my birthday in
September 2004; and mostly for being so supportive over the entire year. Thank-you!
My family have been extremely supportive over this year, and I appreciate
everything they have done. Mum – thank-you for yummy dinners and cups of tea.
Dad – thank-you for sending an email out to all your friends early in the year to see if
any of them had history books on Adelaide; and thank-you for taking the time to read
the final copy of my thesis for grammatical errors. Mum and dad – thank-you very
much for all your help, and for understanding the pressures this year has brought.
My supervisor Heather Burke (Lecturer and Honours Co-ordinator, Archaeology
Department, Flinders University) has been an outstanding asset in my Honours year.
Her guidance, suggestions, knowledge in my study area, motivation, loan of some of
her books and offers of references has helped me immensely. Our regular meetings
meant I always had something to say, and even when I didn’t think I did, I still
managed to talk about things for my allotted hour. Heather did not only discuss
things in meetings, but she responded immediately with email queries, even on
weekends. Thank-you for all your time and effort in supervising me this year!
- xi -
Why undertake a study on architectural style and social meaning in archaeology?
Public and private architecture are a product of design, construction and use by
people. Archaeologists study people and their cultures, and historical archaeologists
specifically study sites from the modern period in conjunction with written records
and other kinds of information (Orser and Fagan 1995:275). Architecture changes
over time, and analysis of this can assist in the identification and understanding of
the social context of a region or group of people (Stark 1999:25).
The types of materials used to construct buildings, the size of buildings, their
function, architectural style, and other factors, all change over time, and may vary
from region to region. In some parts of
the world there are distinctive styles of
architecture, such as that by Antoni
Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain (Editorial
Escudo De Oro 2002). In other parts
of the world greater similarities exist
between the styles of architecture used
similarity is in the use of classical
style architecture on public buildings.
Figure 1.1 – El Capricho, residence, Barcelona, constructed 1883-1885
[Source: Editorial Escudo De Oro 2002:15]
Classical style architecture had its origins in ancient Greece and Rome (Summerson
1963:8). There was a renewed interest in classical style architecture in the
Renaissance period (15th – 18th centuries AD), specifically in relation to ancient
Rome (Maitland 1984:11; Morgan and Gilbert 1969:158; Adam 1990:22). This
interest also extended to other forms of material culture in the western world, such as
jewellery and art, and a taste for things ‘antique’ (Maitland 1984:32; Leone and
Silberman 1995:128; Summerson 1963:18; Hope 2003:161). In fact archaeology can
be argued to have began with the study and collection of such things (Chilton
This study aims to look at classical style public architecture in Adelaide in the 19th
century. Adelaide is the capital city of the state of South Australia (Figure 1.2). The
research question is: what is the social meaning of classical style public architecture
in Adelaide in the 19th century? The sub-research questions are: what types of
classical styles were present on buildings; were these classical styles used on public
buildings in other Australian capitals; were these classical styles used on public
buildings in other British colonies; and what were the influences in the choice of
architectural style in Adelaide?
Figure 1.2 – Map of Australia,
showing location of Adelaide in
South Australia
[Source: Marsden, Stark and
Sumerling 1990:17]
The research questions will be answered by investigations into architectural reports,
books, journals, newspapers, unpublished reports and papers, and web sources, and
through undertaking fieldwork on public buildings in Adelaide. Style has been
studied in archaeology for over a century (Renfrew and Bahn 2000:419), and Wobst
(1999:119-120) considers it to be one of the most interesting and dynamic aspects of
material culture to study.
Buildings are one form of material culture that usually illustrate slow changes in
styles and other design aspects. Buildings are also a very public display of the tastes
and social status of their owners, especially the external façade. Public buildings are
constructed for public use, and are therefore a measure of a region’s influences for
stylistic choice. There are both hidden and open aspects of style, and these will be
analysed in relation to explicit and implicit social meanings (Wobst 1999:122).
Explicit social meanings are comments or actions by contemporary observers and
can be found in documentary records, such as newspapers, letters and books. In
contrast, implicit social meanings are messages decoded by the observers of the
material culture in a specific social context (Johnson 1993:29; Carr and Neitzel
An essential element in stylistic studies is a unified and integrated theoretical
framework (Carr and Neitzel 1995A:4; Carr and Neitzel 1995B:454; Roe 1995:27),
because archaeology does not occur within a vacuum, but co-exists next to other
disciplines and can be co-ordinated with them for a better understanding of material
culture. Several theoretical studies have been examined in relation to style and social
meaning, however there are several readings that take these ideas further, through
linking architectural style to wider issues of identity, ideology and capitalism (Wilkie
and Bartoy 2000:747; Revell 2000:1; Eckardt 2000:8; Fincham 2000:32; Burke
1999:ix; Matthews 1998:254). This study will only investigate one of these aspects in
depth: how the classical style was used to create an identity for the city of Adelaide.
Several studies have been undertaken on architectural style in Australia (Finnimore
ND; Herman 1963; Morgan and Gilbert 1969; Freeland 1972; Johnson 1980;
Langmead and Schenk 1983; Page and Ingpen 1985; Apperly, Irving and Reynolds
1989), however as they are not archaeological studies, they have not examined the
social meanings of architectural style. A few studies have analysed both of these
aspects (Burke 1999; Hope 2003), as have several studies overseas (Glassie 1975;
Deetz 1977; Kelso 1992; Johnson 1993; Matthews 1998; Johnson 2002).
Historical archaeologists recognise stylistic studies, and their links to capitalism and
other wider concepts, as relevant to how the British Empire expanded (Mathews
1998; Burke 1999). Looking at the architectural style of public buildings can tell us
how colonists in new nations saw themselves, and the social meanings can be
interpreted through written and archaeological records. The style of Adelaide’s
public buildings was intended to illustrate the colony’s new power, strength, control
and order, both to Britain and to other Australian and British colonies.
The fact that public buildings constructed in the 19th century are still standing in the
21st century is a testament to their continued use and significance, and many of their
uses have not changed over time. The study of architectural style in Australia is
unique, in that prior to ‘European contact’ there was no ‘architecture’ as it is defined
in the western world.
This study is a significant addition to archaeological studies into architectural style
and social meaning in Australia, and it offers a method of interpretation for one form
of material culture in Adelaide. Both the ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches to
studying society have been employed in this study (Gamble 2001:79), allowing for
various influences to be taken into consideration, both at the level of the individual
and society. By necessity, other disciplines have been incorporated into this study,
such as architecture and history, to give a more rounded view.
Chapter 2 will provide a background to the study of style and social meaning in
historical archaeology, present a background to classical style architecture, discuss
the influences that affect the choice of architectural style, examine classical style
architecture in Britain and other British colonies, and finally discuss classical style
architecture in Adelaide. Chapter 3 will provide an explanation of the methods used
for this study, such as the choice of study area, the organisation of the fieldwork
component, the selection of variables, problems encountered, sources of bias, and the
process of archival research undertaken. The data will then be presented in Chapter
4 as per the variables recorded. Chapter 5 will discuss the social meanings of the
classical styles and other classical architectural elements found in Adelaide, and
Chapter 6 will draw some conclusions from this study. Several complex terms are
explained in the Glossary of Terms at the end of the thesis.
Style and social meaning in historical archaeology
It is important at this stage to explain some terms and to provide a setting for this
study in the field of historical archaeology. Archaeology is a multi-disciplinary area
of study associated with people in the past and all aspects of their lives, such as
where they lived and worked and what they ate. Historical archaeology focuses on
the study of cultural remains in conjunction with historical records and other kinds of
information (Orser and Fagan 1995:275; Deetz 1977:5).
The word ‘style’ is derived from the Latin word stylus, which is a writing implement
(Renfrew and Bahn 2000:419). Initially style was used to describe different types of
handwriting, which is an individual attribute. Now it is applied broadly to classify
different types of material culture, such as architecture, ceramics and clothing, not
only at an individual level, but also for an entire social group or specific region.
The concept of ‘style’ has been studied by several academics in the disciplines of
archaeology, history and architecture (Herman 1963; Morgan and Gilbert 1969;
Baumgart 1969; Freeland 1972; Adam 1990; Janes 2000; Gamble 2001; Maitland
1984). Style is essentially used to assess the degree of visual resemblance between
objects. If there are similar characteristics then this leads to a classification of types.
Style is studied in the discipline of archaeology for several reasons. It gives us a way
of assessing human interaction with the environment, and it aids archaeological
analysis and interpretation of material culture (Conkey and Hastorf 1990:1). Studies
relating to style in archaeology assist in the understanding of material culture, which
is a form of non-verbal communication that can be used to express individual or
group identity (Wiessner 1990:108; Grahame 1998:3; Janes 2000:84).
Gamble (2001:108-9) notes four approaches to the definition of style: culture history,
processual, interpretive, and neo-Darwinian. The culture history approach sees style
as a group of objects sharing similar characteristics (Prown 1993:4-5), while in some
processual approaches style is viewed as a means of non-verbal communication to
find identity (Wiessner 1990:108). Shanks and Tilley (1987:144) describe style as
part of an interpretive approach through an understanding of the meaning of patterns
in material culture, and the social conditions of its production. In contrast, the neoDarwinian approach sees style as denoting those forms that do not have a detectable
selective value (Dunnell 1978:199). Prown (1993), Wiessner (1990), and Shanks and
Tilley (1987) all agree that there are inherent social characteristics in stylistic
analysis, which are linked to social identity (Gamble 2001:109-110). Drawing upon
these diverse approaches to style, my definition of style is a classification given to
objects with similar characteristics that can be used as a way to source social
Architecture is one of the most public and direct forms of media for expressing
political goals and ideologies (Adam 1990:38; Morris 1995:422). Architecture is a
clear visual representation of a culture. Part of the research focus for this thesis is
architectural style, which is one of several methods that can be used to classify a
building (Apperly et al 1989:15). Other methods are a building’s function, the
material used, or its structural systems (Canter and Tagg 1980:2; Voss and Young
1995:85). Studies into architectural style help us to imagine the type of people who
designed, paid for, and used particular buildings. This allows us to understand a little
more about the society in which those people lived.
When undertaking a study on architectural style, it is important to remember that
some styles were not known at the time by the title we refer to them today. The term
‘Neoclassical’ for example, was used in the early 20th century in Canada to classify
the style of architecture popular there from the early 19th century, and the French,
British and Americans adopted it (Maitland 1984:10). Other authors use the terms
‘Classical Revival’ or ‘Greek Revival’ for the architecture in Canada in the early 19th
century, however these terms do not describe the new ideas this style included
(Maitland 1984:10). This is important from an archaeological perspective, as I am
using today’s terminology to study 19th century buildings in Adelaide.
An interesting study was carried out at the University of Pennsylvania to see if the
layperson viewed architecture differently to the architect (Hershberger 1980:22).
This is important to know as an archaeologist, particularly in terms of trying to
ascertain what people thought about buildings in the past. In the Pennsylvania study,
different groups of students, some with architecture backgrounds and some without,
were asked their views on the meaning of architecture (Hershberger 1980:22). It was
found that the education of the students had little effect on how they viewed
architecture, as they all tended to view it in a similar way (Hershberger 1980:39).
Exactly how the students viewed architecture unfortunately was not recorded by
Hershberger (1980), but this is an interesting concept, as it is not possible to go back
and ask the layperson what they thought about the classical style architecture in
Adelaide. This can only be inferred from the sets of characteristics observed in
public buildings, the connotations of these characteristics, and the social conditions
surrounding both.
Although the disciplines of archaeology and architecture study style, they do not take
it to mean the same thing (Burke 1999:29). In archaeology, style is analysed to
source its social meaning and identity, which can be applied to discussions in areas
such as capitalism, colonisation and ideology (Burke 1999:ix; Purser 2003:295, 313).
In architecture, style is studied to classify buildings, and discuss their physical
attributes, influences and developments over time (Adam 1990:2-46). Therefore, this
study goes beyond discussions on what styles were present in Adelaide in the 19th
century to an analysis of the social meanings of these styles in regards to
Carr and Neitzel (1995B:454) state the “directions that studies of style in
archaeology take in the future will depend not only on the theories of social groups
and culture that archaeologists assume… [but it will] also depend basically on what
archaeologists explicitly or implicitly think [of] the artisan, as a human being, and
the human condition to be”. Stylistic studies in archaeology need to be analysed in
regards to both explicit and implicit meanings, because this gives us a better
understanding of the social context in the region.
Meanings are not automatically understood, rather, they are established through
context by the observer (Johnson 1993:34). An individual may be taught in a certain
way (i.e. through cultural norms for designing architecture), however this
background will always be transformed and reinforced through their individual
actions (i.e. deviations from cultural norms) (Johnson 1993:34-35). This means that
an individual will have their own influences and reasons for using a certain type of
architectural style, such as who they were taught by and what they were taught, but
they may also be aware of what architectural styles were popular in the past and
those that are currently being used in different regions.
Johnson (1993:31) sees culture as more than a system of signs and rules governing
society. Meaning is variable and is produced by people working within a cultural
system, who negotiate and transform material culture and its existing meanings to
produce new meanings. New meanings may produce new types of architectural
styles or variations of architectural elements within existing styles. Gamble
(2001:79) discusses two approaches to the study of society, and therefore of social
meaning: ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ (Figure 2.1). The top-down view is where
individuals are born into a society and they inherit its culture. The bottom-up view
has individuals negotiating and transforming society into existence. Certain
individuals may influence society, but there are also larger influences occurring
(Gamble 2001:80). Both the top-down and bottom-up approaches are relevant to this
study, because each reinforces the other and gives us a wider understanding of
Figure 2.1 – Top-down and bottom-up approaches to the study of society
[Source: Based on the model by Gamble (2001:79).]
- 10 -
Classical style architecture – A background
There are many different types of classical style architecture, such as Romanesque,
Renaissance, Palladian and Italianate (Appendix 1). These names are used to classify
certain types of buildings that share similar characteristics. Classical style
architecture originated in ancient Greece and Rome (Summerson 1963:7), and its aim
“has always been to achieve a demonstrable harmony of parts” (Summerson 1963:8).
Classical architectural elements were reintroduced in the Renaissance period (15th –
18th centuries AD), and the Renaissance theorists discussed classical elements in
more detail and with stricter rules (Curl 1992:12).
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman architect and author whose works on
architecture are the only complete set known to have survived from antiquity (Curl
1992:12). Vitruvius stated that architecture depended on ‘order, arrangement,
harmony, symmetry, propriety and economy’ (Curl 1992:12), which can be said to be
the ‘classical ideal’. The concept of harmony related to the proportions of a building,
the order of elements, and the use of simple ratios. Classical architecture has
elements that can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, such as the Orders
(Curl 1992:13). Vitruvius provided the earliest descriptions of the Orders, which
were expanded during the Renaissance period (Summerson 1963:9; Curl 1992:16).
Each classical style uses a particular Order or a combination of architectural Orders.
There are five such Orders: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite
(Summerson 1963:9) (Figure 2.2). The Orders refer to the design and arrangement
of the column and superstructure units (entablature) of a building (Apperly et al
1989:281) (Appendix 2 – Figure A2.1). The architectural elements of each Order
are described in Appendix 2.
- 11 -
Figure 2.2 – Claude Perrault’s representation of the five architectural orders, c. AD
[Source: Summerson 1963:57]
Some scholars argue that the architectural Orders have ‘personalities’. This was
possibly derived from the writings of Vitruvius in the 1st century AD. Further
significance was given to the personalities of the Orders by Renaissance theorists
from the 15th century AD (Summerson 1963:12; Curl 1992:12). The Tuscan was said
to be tough, primitive and manly (Curl 1992:34). The Doric has the “proportion,
strength and grace of a man’s body” (Summerson 1963:12), and has always been
- 12 -
regarded as male. The Ionic has “feminine slenderness” (Summerson 1963:12), and
has generally been regarded as unsexed. The Corinthian has “the slight figure of a
girl” (Summerson 1963:12), and has always been regarded as female. Therefore,
each Order has associated ‘personalities’ or gender attributes.
Renaissance theorists discussed the uses of the Orders in more detail, such as Leon
Battista Alberti in the 15th century, Sebastiano Serlio, Donato Bramante, Giacomo
Barozzi da Vignola and Andrea Palladio in the 16th century, and Vincenzo Scamozzi
in the 17th century (Summerson 1963:9-11). In his treatise, Quattro Libri dell’
Architecttura (The Four Books of Architecture), Palladio discussed the architectural
Orders, gave examples of them, and emphasised the rules of proportion and the
importance of harmony with their use (Clerk 1984:9). He affirmed the three goals of
architecture as stated by Vitruvius: utility, durability, and beauty (Clerk 1984:9; Curl
1992:12). These goals are especially related to classical architecture, as they are
beautiful compositions, many of which have survived for long periods of time,
although their functions have sometimes changed, thus changing their social
meanings. An example is the Colosseum in Rome for which construction started in
AD 70 (Adam 1990:12). It was originally used as an auditorium for gladiatorial
games and other social purposes, and it is now a tourist attraction, as are many other
ancient classical monuments (Figure 2.3).
Figure 2.3 – Colosseum,
Rome, Italy
[Source: Photo taken by
Deborah Arthur, 24-07-02]
- 13 -
In the early 17th century, Serlio “called for the social rank and profession of the
owners of private and public buildings to be reflected in the robustness or delicacy of
the genus” (Tzonis and Lefaivre 1986:38). Basically, he advocated that people
should display their social status through their choice in architectural style and order.
Houses usually show the social status of their owner, as the style, material and
construction methods are all a display of their personal wealth. People who construct
public buildings do so with their own ideas of architectural style and its meanings,
using the wealth of the proprietor.
Serlio also recommended certain orders be used for specific types of buildings
(Summerson 1963:12-13). He identified the Doric order as appropriate for churches
dedicated to male saints (i.e. St Paul, St Peter, St George) and militant types in
general. The Ionic order should be used for matronly saints, and also for men of
learning. The Corinthian order should be used for virgins. The Tuscan order was
suitable for fortifications and prisons, but the Composite order was not awarded any
specific characteristics (Curl 1992:34). However, over time, the orders have often
been used according to taste, circumstances and means (Summerson 1963:13), rather
than these theoretical associations.
Classical architectural elements impart to the observer a variety of messages of
power, order and structure, which have been associated with classical buildings
dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. Tzonis and Lefaivre (1986:273-274)
discuss several meanings of classical architecture. It is linked to iconographic
systems, such as ‘antiquization’, which is a similarity between “ancient regimes and
contemporary political powers” (Tzonis and Lefaivre 1986:274). “Classical buildings
have been mentioned as part of a movement of antiquization in the Renaissance and
- 14 -
as supporters of a militant culture of the same period, legitimizing the new world
order of science, the market, industry, and a kind of limited democracy” (Tzonis and
Lefaivre 1986:274). The political associations of large building projects and specific
uses of monumental classical style architecture date back to the Roman Empire, but
there are also more modern examples, such as the new government in Canada in the
early 1860s (Cameron and Wright 1980:11).
Many new governments want to demonstrate symbols of their strength and power, so
they approved the construction of new public buildings, especially in classical styles
because of their historical associations with strength and power. Palladian models
were generally produced by the English government in Canada, and were therefore a
symbol of political, economic, administrative, judicial and legislative presence
(Clerk 1984:30). This obvious association between power, wealth and architecture is
reflected in the social phenomenon of the term ‘classical’, itself related to the social
order of the classici, the highest rank of the hierarchical social structure of ancient
Rome (Tzonis and Lefaivre 1986:1).
During the height of the Roman Empire, government and the military were all run by
wealthy individuals, as they had both the power and resources necessary to coordinate them (Shotter 1994:2). The growth of the Empire led members of the
governing class to amass large sums of money and material possessions, some of
which was spent on major building projects (Shotter 1994:13). One such project was
the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia at Palestrina, Italy (Figure 2.4), c. 80 BC, a large
complex of buildings with porticos, colonnades, massive staircases, and exedras
(Blagg 1983:30). At this site, the Doric order is used on the bottom level, Corinthian
is used on the upper level, and Ionic elsewhere. The location of the orders on this
- 15 -
building was similar to other buildings, such as the Colosseum, c. AD 70, which has
Doric on the ground floor, Ionic on the second floor, and Corinthian on the third
floor (Summerson 1963:15), or the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome, Italy (Figure 2.5),
which was the Doric order on the ground floor with the Ionic order on the second
floor (Curl 1992:51).
Figure 2.4 – Temple of
Fortuna Primigenia,
Palestrina, Italy
[Source: Palestrina 2004]
Figure 2.5 – Theatre of Marcellus, Rome, Italy
[Source: Curl 1992:51]
Western architecture in the 19th century was
influenced by ideas originating from the Late
Roman and Byzantine periods (Baumgart 1969:8).
Roman architecture is partly derived from Greek
Egyptian, early Oriental and Creto-Mycenaean
architecture. Over time different classical styles
appeared, each taking something from their historic precedents. Some classical styles
have been referred to as revivals of earlier styles (i.e. Renaissance Revival), while
others have been named new styles (i.e. Palladian) (Appendix 1). Most classical
- 16 -
styles used during the Renaissance, and in following periods, originated in Europe,
and were popular in this region for a period of time, as well as being used in other
parts of the western world.
Classical style architecture in Britain and British colonies
Glassie (1975:114) explains that to understand the choice in architectural style and
other aspects of designing a building, you need to understand its social context, such
as the influences of the clients who paid for the building and the restrictions of the
local environment. To explain the social context for the use of classical architectural
styles between the 15th to 19th centuries in the western world, comparisons can be
made to Britain and other British colonies.
There were several factors that influenced the choice of architectural style in a
location. They included:
Historical trends of classical styles;
Fashions and trends in Britain and other parts of Europe;
The function of a building;
Regional influences;
Individual influences.
There have been numerous archaeological and architectural studies undertaken on
architectural style in the United Kingdom (Johnson 1992; Johnson 1993; Johnson
2002), United States of America (Glassie 1975; Deetz 1977; Kelso 1992; Matthews
1998; Bell 2002), Canada (Cameron and Wright 1980; Carter 1983; Maitland 1984;
Clerk 1984), Fiji (Purser 2003) and Australia (Finnimore ND; Pickhaver 1973;
Pikusa 1986; Burke 1999; Hope 2003). These studies have found similar influences
- 17 -
on the ways people chose architectural style and its social meanings. In the western
world, many people wanted to make associations with aspects of power, wealth,
order and control, which they did by connections to classical style architecture.
Historical trends of classical styles
The historical trends behind classical styles are evident from the similar locations
throughout the western world that have classical style buildings. Classical styles of
architecture are evident on public buildings in Canada, America, Australia and
Britain from the 15th century through to the 19th century, and they follow similar
trends to when a style was popular (Maitland 1984; Matthews 1998; Johnson 2002;
Hope 2003).
The Second Empire style, for example, expanded from France to Britain and then to
British colonies, where it demonstrated prosperity in its rich detail (Apperly et al
1989:69). The style was only popular in Britain for a short period, mainly due to the
large expense required to build in this style, and because other classical styles were
becoming popular. In the 1870s and 1880s in Canada, styles such as Second Empire
were popular for public buildings, which was an extension of their popularity in
Britain at the same time (Cameron and Wright 1980:8). The Second Empire style
also became popular in Australia around the same time, between the 1860s and
1890s (Apperly et al 1989:69).
The Second Empire style in Canada was associated with historical trends in other
parts of the western world, and was used to illustrate power and strength for public
buildings in association with the government at the time. The British government in
Canada held architectural competitions for the War Office and the Foreign Office in
the late 19th century (Cameron and Wright 1980:10). Both the first and second prize
- 18 -
winners were Second Empire style designs. The publicity that surrounded this
competition drew public attention to the Second Empire style, which enhanced its
popularity at the time. The style came to symbolise the strength and power of the
new central government in Canada (Cameron and Wright 1980:11).
The mere physical presence of many of the classical buildings in Canada would have
helped to popularise a particular style (Cameron and Wright 1980:17). “The
intangible qualities embodied by these large structures, such as stability, wealth,
progress, power, and so forth, were desirable associations for aspiring gentlemen”
(Cameron and Wright 1980:17). According to Cameron and Wright (1980:22), the
Second Empire style denoted the desired effects of conservatism, stability,
respectability and opulence. Any new nation would want to show these and other
symbols of strength and power, and many classical styles were able to provide these
social and political meanings.
Fashions and trends in Britain and other parts of Europe
The fashions and trends in Britain and other parts of Europe provided several
influences for choice in architectural style. Due to the availability of pattern books,
architects were copying styles, and they were being adapted to local conditions.
Architects and builders used pattern books to elaborate their ideas, rather than as
sources for entire plans or elevations (Maitland 1984:33; Clerk 1984:12). In the
British colonies, most pattern books were of British origin (i.e. Architectural
Association Sketchbook 1891), although a few came from France (i.e. Rondelet
1863). Some pattern books showed entire buildings, while others showed details of
orders and other classical elements (Maitland 1984:34-35). Some American pattern
- 19 -
books were published in the late 19th century by architects. Many building designers
in Canada, as in other British colonies, relied on using pattern books and other
publications as references, because architectural training was rudimentary in the 19th
century (Clerk 1984:15).
The usual practice in the late 18th and 19th centuries in Australia, and in other British
colonies, was to “import and adapt” styles, through the use of pattern books and
architectural periodicals (Apperly et al 1989:17), rather than to create new styles
from scratch. Burke (1999:98, 143) studied the various styles on public and private
buildings in Armidale, Australia, between 1840 and 1930. In Armidale there is no
definite style being used, however there is conformity with the street grid to the
world view of order and control (Burke 1999:175). Throughout the 19th century
classical features are used on public buildings, such as porticoes, pilasters, columns
and piers (Burke 1999:143, 145). The Georgian style is used on several public
buildings in Armidale in the 19th century, as it was in other British colonies, such as
Pattern books were no doubt influential in the choice of style, but so were other types
of published architectural works. Matthews (1998:244) studied the Georgian style for
houses in Annapolis, Maryland, during the 1760s and 1770s. The works of
Renaissance theorists had been republished in English in Annapolis (Matthews
1998:250), thus providing a source of renewed interest in classical architecture and
its meaning. Another factor in stylistic choice in America was the formation of elite
groups and their architectural tastes. The ‘Rule of Taste’ group in Annapolis for
example, were a group of influential individuals who used print media to propagate
their desired style, derived from both the Classical and Renaissance periods
- 20 -
(Matthews 1998:246-249). The group was influential due to the wealth of its
members and their relatively high status in society.
Deetz (1977:112) considers the most important factor for the introduction of the
Georgian style in America was the large number of architectural books around from
the late 17th century onwards. Deetz (1977:39) calls the influence of the Renaissance
in the Anglo-American world in the mid 18th century a ‘Georgian’ world view, which
is the architectural style that typifies most buildings at that time. The Georgian style
shares similar characteristics to other classical styles, such as a symmetrical façade,
and simple yet elegant detailing around windows, doors and roof eaves. Glassie’s
(1975) study of middle Virginian houses “shows that the Georgian world view
manifests itself in material culture in a bilaterally symmetrical, three-part form”
(Deetz 1977:43), which gives the architectural style its name. This new order and
way of viewing the world has a strong emphasis on the individual and their place
within their culture. Their house forms identify the people with the cultural norms of
the time.
Another world view has been discussed by scholars in contrast to the Georgian world
view (Deetz 1977:39-40). The ‘Medieval’ world view let nature take its course, and
has been related to gothic architecture in Britain. The Georgian way was for people
to create and control order, which then allowed them to control the environment. It
appears that in Britain and its colonies, it was important to be seen to be in control of
the environment, natural and built, and to be a powerful and orderly nation. Although
there is a lot of discussion about the acceptance of the Georgian world view,
Palkovich (in Leone and Potter 1988:215-216) discussed the possibility of its
rejection. When there are deviations from the Georgian world view, they may have
been accidental or deliberate choices by architects or other influential individuals.
- 21 -
In Australia, there was more than one dominant classical style of architecture, and
these classical styles, in combination with other classical influences on society, can
be termed a ‘Classical’ world view. The Georgian style was relevant to America,
because that style was highly popular there. However, in Australia there were several
classical styles popular, and these styles were influenced by local conditions, which
slightly changed their compositions (i.e. hot climates, types of building material
available). Architects were trying to create new meanings in their new environment.
Classical styles provided a way for people to control space and movement, and create
an impression of order, whilst still giving architects the freedom to make changes.
The design by Wakefield and the plan for Adelaide’s city layout were both based on
principles of this Classical world view.
In the 17th century in England, “all educated people of the times were familiar with
architectural precepts of taste, proportions and the Classic Orders” (Freeland
1972:4). This means that in western society, it was important to know what was
popular in regards to architecture, and it seems the upper classes in society were
especially aware of classical styles and their associated meanings. In the mid 18th
century in America there were developments of scientific thought and Renaissance
derived forms, which were both balanced and ordered (Deetz 1977:40). These
developments followed the impact of the Renaissance on material culture in England
after 1650.
The link between popular architectural trends in Britain and their adoption in British
colonies is true for most classical styles. William Kelso’s (1992:140) study of houses
in Virginia in the 17th and 18th centuries demonstrated that they were designed to
maintain associations with England. Even when people living in Virginia were
- 22 -
primarily native-born, the buildings were still showing signs of British architectural
styles, such as the influence of classical design elements. This implies that people
still wanted to be associated with Britain decades after the colonies were colonised.
Perhaps those in power in Virginia, both in government and commercial enterprise,
wanted to maintain such links with their founders.
A specific European influence was the preference for anything antique or of classical
origin. Material objects in museums and libraries in Victoria, and certain individuals
such as Redmond Barry in Melbourne, who purchased books on ancient cultures for
the Melbourne Public Library, also contributed towards the use of Egyptian elements
in architecture in Australia (Hope 2003:161). Maitland (1984:32) states that when
Canada was colonised by Britain, there was an interest in all things antique and
rational, such as classical architecture. Museums and curiosity cabinets stored
antique items, and public lectures on different subjects from antiquity were common.
This means that people were not only interested in classical styles of architecture, but
also in antique items from classical periods, due to their associations with ancient
Greece and Rome. People were also interested in ‘rational’ things, through their
associations with science and the western understanding of the natural world.
Adaptations have been shown to classical architectural orders, such as the use of
palm leaf column capitals in Melbourne, Australia (Hope 2003:178). Hope
(2003:168-174) looked at the influence of Egyptian designs on public buildings and
other monuments in Melbourne, between 1851 and 1939. There are several examples
in Melbourne of column capitals with a lotus flower or papyrus bundles (Hope
2003:174-175), and many are owned by the Freemasons, who preferred this design
for their buildings (Hope 2003:168-174). Hope argued that the Egyptian elements
- 23 -
symbolise the power of what lies within the building. Certain proponents, whether a
government, private group or individual, were strong supporters of classical styles of
architecture. It does not appear the meanings of buildings would be any different for
government or private groups, as they all aimed to show their wealth and power
through the building’s architectural style.
Certain proponents in England were trying to encourage the development of a new
classical architectural order in the late 1870s (Leeds 1880:100-101). In fact,
premiums were being offered for a new design, but none of the submissions were
worthy. The new order had to be different to the other five, but still classically
derived. Leeds (1880:104) believed that studies of the orders by architects had
limited their capacity to think, as they were merely copying the ideas of others.
Leeds (1880:105) encouraged architects to break away from strict classical traditions
and find their own meanings:
At any rate, if we have actually studied the classical Orders to any
purpose, and familiarized ourselves with the gusto of the antique
generally, we ought to be able now to infuse something of the spirit
and temperament of that style into our own conceptions.
There were of course the traditionalists who designed classical buildings to specific
rules of harmony and proportion, such as in ancient Greece and Rome, but there were
also proponents for change (Leeds 1880:107). Leeds (1880:115) preferred the
classical style to medieval, because it was “far better adapted for general
application”. The classical style was used on public buildings with a variety of
functions in Britain and the British colonies, which illustrates its flexibility.
- 24 -
The function of a building
The function of a building is also related to its architectural style, as many
government and commercial buildings were designed in different classical styles
(Carter 1983; Hope 2003). One of the main architectural debates in British colonies
was over the preference for classical or gothic styles. In the late 18th century in
England, academics argued over which was the best architectural style to use for
public buildings (Freeland 1972:93). In Britain, academic debate reached a truce
when gothic style focused on ecclesiastical buildings and schools, and classical style
focused on government and commercial buildings (Freeland 1972:93-4, 122). Gothic
styles were popular in America and Canada in the 19th century mainly for religious
buildings, but also residential buildings (Maitland 1984:122; Vlach 1995:142). The
classical style met the functional and visual needs of the 19th century (Adam
Architects in the western world generally accepted that a building’s appearance had
to illustrate its use and meaning. Therefore, military buildings had to look like strong
and powerful buildings to symbolise the government’s and military’s control of
society in the region. In her study of vernacular architecture in Canada between 1750
and 1830, Clerk (1984:5) found that a building’s function had some relation to its
architectural style. The popularity of the Palladian style in Canada followed its
establishment in England between 1710 and 1750 (Clerk 1984:5). The Palladian style
was used more for official buildings during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Meaning was often closely tied to function. Carter (1983:4) examined court houses in
Canada constructed in the 19th century, many of which were classical designs. Court
houses were predominantly built in a variety of classical styles, because they were
- 25 -
instruments of justice and symbols of stability (Carter 1983:4), and because their
architects wanted to evoke these images. The designs for court buildings were
influenced by a range of social factors, including historical trends for classical styles,
international fashions and trends, building materials available, the population in an
area (which would affect the size of the building), and the funds available for its
construction (Carter 1983:19). Even though court houses were military buildings, a
variety of architectural styles and orders were used, therefore there seem to be no
direct association with the buildings having personalities, as suggested by Vitruvius.
Each of the five orders and a variety of classical styles were used on public buildings
in Australia in the 19th century (Freeland 1972:97, 101; Apperly et al 1989).
Classical designs were deemed suitable for public buildings of a variety of functions,
such as commercial (i.e. banks, hotels) and government (i.e. post offices, libraries)
(Freeland 1972:95) (Appendix 3).
Regional influences
Regional differences in the appearance of buildings in the same classical styles
appear due to aspects such as the type, quality and quantity of local building
materials, climate, or the topography of the landscape. Although houses in Middle
Virginia were influenced by the fashions in Britain, some aspects were not suitable
for local conditions, so compromises were made, such as adding a central hallway to
houses (Glassie 1975:189). Glassie (1975:6) studied folk housing in Middle Virginia
in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Some residential buildings were part brick and part
stone due to a lack of building materials in the region (Glassie 1975:189). Many
colonists in Canada and America wanted to associate themselves with the English
culture and lifestyle, and its associated meanings of order, control and power. The
- 26 -
fact that local conditions affected the appearance of houses is important to note, as
this was similar in all regions, depending on the topography and construction
materials available.
Another regional influence on the choice of architectural style is evident when
examining public and private architecture in Levuka, Fiji (Purser 2003:293, 311). Fiji
was colonised by the British in the 19th century. Building materials from Britain were
brought to Fiji to make bungalows and other structures, such as churches and halls
(Purser 2003:295). As the 19th century progressed there was greater regional
diversity in the British Empire (Purser 2003:296). Vernacular buildings in Fiji started
to take on different forms, such as the addition of verandahs, which was common in
colonies with warm climates. Unfortunately, Purser (2003) did not define known
styles for this region in her study. The new public buildings were “clearly intended to
define political and economical leadership of an emerging town elite” (Purser
2003:312), as they coincided with considerable boom periods in the economy where
new governments wanted to show their power and define their own identity (Purser
2003:311). The new colonists wanted to define a new identity in their new
Individual influences
Individual people can be influential in the choice of architectural style. Many
architects wanted to design buildings that would be considered beautiful and
practical, and the style of the building was a big part of this. Another part of this was
how other people perceived the building. Many people wanted to emulate the social
elite or show that their town (in relation to government and educational buildings),
their company (in relation to commercial buildings), or their denomination (in
- 27 -
relation to religious buildings) was giving the viewer a particular set of messages
often linked to concepts of order, power, control and rationality (Bell 2002:254).
There are several types of people involved in a building’s design and construction.
Architects are one group involved in the building process. Other groups are those
who fund the building, those who construct it, and those who occupy it. The people
who provide money for the building usually demand that the cost does not exceed the
budget, that it should be expertly designed and built, and it should suit their taste
(Apperly et al 1989:15). The architect is rarely in sole control of a project. This
aspect is important to note, as one of the social aspects in this study is who had an
influence over the choice of architectural style for public buildings in Adelaide.
When an architect uses a particular style for a building, they do so using its known
characteristics, and with the “expectation that people will react predictably to the
design and that the style will express values held by the community” (Apperly et al
1989:16). New styles were established when efforts were made to break away from
certain traditions and establish new directions.
If adaptations were widely used, a new style may have been appointed, such as when
‘Neoclassical’ was used in the early 20th century to describe early 19th century
architecture in Canada (Maitland 1984:10). John Sloane was an architect in Canada
who practiced the neoclassical style, but he incorporated his own interpretation into
his designs (Maitland 1984:20). Sloane recommended that the classical design only
be used for religious and public architecture (Maitland 1984:23), although there were
no reasons apparent for this.
Some architects who came to Australia were trained in Britain, and would have
brought with them British traditions and European tastes (Hope 2003:179).
- 28 -
Architects and other individuals from Australia, such as soldiers, visited ‘exotic’
destinations such as Egypt (Hope 2003:179). Items brought back were donated to
museums or libraries, because of the desire of the general public to see things
Egyptian, or of classical origins. Maitland (1984:16) also talks about young men
from well-to-do backgrounds travelling to exotic places in the 20th century, such as
Italy and France, to give a finishing touch to their general education in Canada.
Therefore, it was not only architects who travelled and experienced different
architectural tastes, but young men from wealthy families and military men.
Engineers were also responsible for choice in architectural style. The Royal
Engineers in Canada in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, for example, were
responsible for constructing many civil and military buildings, and on occasion they
assisted in the design (Clerk 1984:16). They did not receive any formal architectural
training, however they did consult books on architecture and they travelled to other
colonies. The Royal Engineers appeared to be aware of classical architectural styles
and their associated social and political meanings.
The studies of architectural style in Britain and several British colonies all have an
underlying social meaning of controlling the environment. The British accomplished
this through colonising new regions and bringing with them their tastes for
architecture and other forms of material culture, which they imposed on their new
environment. Local governments also had an effect on what style would symbolise
their new era, although local effects were mostly felt in regions after a lengthy period
of British rule. However, there were several adaptations to local conditions that make
interesting analogies with my study of classical architecture in Adelaide. Individuals
also expressed their views through their choice in architectural style, whether as the
architect or the decision maker in architectural competitions, as they wanted to see
- 29 -
their local environment have associations with what they knew as a powerful, orderly
and controlled society, related historically back to ancient Greece and Rome.
Classical style architecture in Adelaide
Adelaide was a British colony planned with a specific design. The proponents of the
design were several wealthy businessmen in Britain who wanted to develop a new
colony in Australia (Watson 1984:79). They were dissatisfied with society in Britain,
which they felt was undemocratic and unjust. They wanted to design a colony
without convicts, as they felt the other Australian colonies were corrupted by
convicts and poorly planned. Their design for South Australia would be better.
As part of this grand design the classical style of architecture was chosen for many
public buildings in the new colony. Different styles of classical architecture were
used to adorn the city centre with bold and impressive public structures that would
make those people who lived in the city proud and those people who visited the city
envious (Marsden et al 1990:31). New designs utilising classical elements were
employed, and they were used to break away from certain traditions and establish
specific new directions for the colony.
The designers of classical style public buildings in the new colony would have been
aware of their associations with the Renaissance period (15th – 18th centuries AD),
and earlier classical periods in ancient Greece (5th – 1st centuries BC) and Rome (1st
century BC – 3rd century AD) where many classical styles originated (Appendix 1).
Classical style architecture was also used in Britain from the Renaissance period
onwards, and in British colonies all over the western world (Maitland 1984:4;
Johnson 2002:98; Hope 2003:168). The classical style used on public architecture in
- 30 -
the new colony of South Australia was going to illustrate its power, strength, control
and order, to Britain, other Australian colonies, and the rest of the world.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield initiated the design for the new colony in South Australia,
which he wanted to be different to all other Australian colonies (Watson 1984:79;
Bowe 2004B: 4). Wakefield was a wealthy and influential businessman in London,
who along with several colleagues, worked out a scheme of emigration and drafted
an Act of Parliament (Page and Ingpen 1985:8). The bill was swiftly passed in 1834.
The Act specified that no convicts were to be allowed into South Australia, only
British subjects could emigrate, the colony was to make its own laws, and it would
be self-governing when the population rose to 50,000 (Page and Ingpen 1985:10).
South Australia appealed to people who were “non-conformists and dissenters who
felt they lacked economic, political and social opportunities in the England of the
1830s even after Parliament had been reformed” (Bonython 1968:1120).
The South Australian Company was set-up on 11 October 1835 in London to deal
with commercial activities in the new colony (Page and Ingpen 1985:10). Colonel
William Light was appointed Surveyor General (Marsden et al 1990:17), and was
given the task to find a new site for the colony. On 22 January 1836 the company
despatched the first fleet of ships, and they landed in Kingscote where they
established the first town (Page and Ingpen 1985:14; Warburton 1986:31). On 28
December 1836, Colonel Light landed at Holdfast Bay, and in January 1837 he
selected the present site of Adelaide (Page and Ingpen 1985:12). There has been
some debate as to whether it was actually Colonel Light who designed the plan of the
city centre, or if it was his deputy George Strickland Kingston (Langmead 1994:viviii; Bowe 2004A:3), however by 1837 the plan was established. The majority of
- 31 -
history books support the view that Colonel Light founded the city of Adelaide, and
that view is accepted for this study.
The design for the city was in two parts, South Adelaide and North Adelaide, with
surrounding park lands (Marsden et al 1990:17). Certain areas of the city were
selected for specific purposes. Colonel Light intended the city to centre around
Victoria Square, where town acres had been set aside for government purposes
(Marsden et al 1990:18). There were discussions in England that Adelaide’s city
streets should be designed in different architectural styles, however the republicans
of Adelaide rejected this view as an infringement of civil liberties (Langmead and
Schenk 1983:4). The people influential in the commencement of the new colony
perhaps wanted to start afresh and not be entirely dictated by English rule, especially
in regards to architectural freedom.
The plan for the city centre, encompassing both North Adelaide and South Adelaide,
was a blank canvas for the English-born architects to cover with their designs. “The
proposed city of Adelaide fulfilled the dream of many [English] architects since the
Italian Renaissance” (Langmead and Schenk 1983:4). English architects had a
limited freedom to design public buildings in what-ever style they wanted. The
outcomes of these discussions and other debates have resulted in a mixture of
architectural styles visible on the public buildings in Adelaide.
The grid layout selected for Adelaide’s city centre was used to control the movement
of traffic and individuals, and to structure certain parts of the city into functional
areas (Bowe 2004B:4). South Adelaide was selected to be the more important of the
two parts of the city, and certain parts were delegated as commercial or residential
- 32 -
areas (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:vii, 3). For instance, the northern part of King
William Street became the focus of the city in the mid 19th century for public
buildings, and residential buildings were more focused on the north-west area of
South Adelaide. North Adelaide was intended to be mostly residential, and was
accordingly designed differently to South Adelaide (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:82).
The grid layout used for South Adelaide was adopted from the co-ordinated system
of buildings and precincts, initially used in the city of Miletus, Greece, in 479 BC in
Greece (Bowe 2004B:4). It was subsequently perfected as a system for orderly
settlements and social control by the Romans between the 1st and 5th centuries AD.
After the fall of the Roman Empire the grid system was rarely used until it was
rediscovered in the Renaissance period, the same time as other classical elements
were becoming popular, including architecture. The Roman architect, Vitruvius, not
only set out principles for architectural forms and proportions in the 1st century AD,
but also functional elements of cities, such as layout, spaces and orientation.
During the Renaissance period, artist, military engineer and architect Pietro Cataneo
“synthesised the work of Vitruvius into his Ideal City plan”, which was later used for
Adelaide (Bowe 2004B:4). Cataneo’s plan for the ideal city was based on a
relationship between order, geometry, architecture and town planning (Figure 2.6).
A symmetrical, orderly design was chosen for the plan of South Adelaide to match
the desire for an orderly, powerful and controlled society. The plan for North
Adelaide may have been skewed due to the uneven topography, or it may have just
been planned to match the proposed functions (i.e. mostly residential). This may
suggest that residential areas did not need to be as strictly controlled as public areas.
- 33 -
Figure 2.6 – Cataneo’s Ideal City plan, 1567
[Source: Bowe 2004B:4]
Wakefield’s plan for the new colony was to have an orderly, powerful and controlled
society, however this was not entirely a success. In the early years farming was poor
and many people struggled to feed themselves (Watson 1984:79). Life was hard for
many early settlers and for a while it was thought the colony would fail. Watson
(1984:79) describes the ultimate outcome of Wakefield’s plan:
South Australia was never the perfect place Wakefield hoped it
would be. The men who established it were too greedy for that. But
it continued to grow. A beautiful city was laid out. It became the
leading agricultural colony – the granary of Australia. And because
there had been no convicts in the early days, the people of South
Australia went on believing that they were just a little bit better
than those from the other colonies.
There were several mining discoveries in South Australia, Victoria and New South
Wales, in the 1840s and 1850s (Gibbs 1969:99; Freeland 1972:111), however few
people benefited from this. Initially these discoveries triggered a mass exodus of
skilled workers from South Australia, which caused businesses to suffer and resulted
in a depression (Advertiser 1958:3; Gibbs 1969:101). However, gold had a long-term
positive effect on the South Australian economy. The South Australian government
- 34 -
offered the best price for gold in the Australian colonies, and it was brought to
Adelaide from Victoria under police escort (Marsden et al 1990:24). A period of
renewed prosperity ensued from the mid-1860s, and the government of South
Australia embarked on a large public works program, which involved the
construction of many new public buildings (Marsden et al 1990:26). Extravagant
government spending in the early years of the colony could have contributed to poor
economic conditions, as the South Australian government was perhaps trying to
emulate the stylistic architectural trends in Britain and other British colonies, but
with a small group of trained architects and minimal funds.
The 1860s to 1880s were boom years for Adelaide, especially for the miners and
pastoralists (Page 1986:26; Watson 1984:79). The 1890s again saw a time of
depression, with the failure of several banks and the liquidation of several building
companies (Advertiser 1958:49). During times of depression, fewer public buildings
were constructed, as both government and commercial enterprises tightened their
purse strings. Adelaide’s economy did not fully recover until after 1900.
Old photographs and sketches of Adelaide’s buildings (Advertiser 1958:9-105;
Morgan and Gilbert 1969:11-66; Dutton 1978:140) reveal that many classical style
public buildings were constructed throughout the 19th century. Unfortunately,
‘progress’ has meant that many of these buildings have been demolished to make
way for new buildings, or they have been dwarfed by tall buildings constructed
throughout the 20th century (Figure 2.7). Progress has meant that the National
Chambers (22 King William Street) and the National Bank of Australasia (26 King
William Street), for instance, which were both Renaissance style public buildings
- 35 -
constructed in the mid 1860s and designed by Wright and Woods, were both
demolished in 1968 to make way for larger structures (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:25).
Figure 2.7 – Torrens Building, Victoria Square
[Source: Photo taken by Deborah Arthur, 2-10-04]
- 36 -
Study Area
Due to the large number of classical style buildings in Adelaide, a limit on the
geographical area studied was initially required. Historical research was undertaken
to ascertain the most important areas to study. Adelaide was a planned city of two
parts, North Adelaide and South Adelaide, of which South Adelaide was the more
important. Both of these areas contain the majority of public buildings for the city of
Adelaide, especially those constructed in the 19th century, because South Adelaide
was intended to be the commercial hub of the city. The study area was initially
limited to South Adelaide, which would provide a survey area with the majority of
buildings, so as to be able to make generalisations about what was happening in
Some of the most important early public buildings in Adelaide were erected in
Victoria Square, the geographical centre and Colonel Light’s intended hub for the
city (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:3). The focus of the city centre became the northern
end of King William Street (bounded by Victoria Square and North Terrace), with
other important buildings located along North Terrace. The three locations finally
chosen: Victoria Square, North Terrace, and the northern part of King William Street
(Figure 3.1), were due to their importance in the early years of the colony, and due
to a large proportion of Classical style buildings still standing in these locations.
- 37 -
Figure 3.1 – J. William’s map of Adelaide showing the town acres
[Source: Worsnop 1988:iii]
[Note: Locations of Victoria Square (1), North Terrace (2), and the northern part of King
William Street (3) shown with arrows.]
Initially, a walking survey of all streets in the northern part of the city centre was
undertaken (between Wakefield Street and North Terrace) to record the addresses of
all Classical style buildings. Buildings in the southern part of the city centre were
surveyed by car. Only buildings with the most public context were recorded,
therefore buildings not directly facing these three locations were excluded (i.e. the
Palm House and Museum of Economic Botany, both in the Botanic Gardens on
North Terrace), because the they could not be seen from the main roads in the 19th
century and would not have had as much impact as those public buildings abutting
the main roads.
- 38 -
Only buildings constructed in these locations and still existing are relevant to this
study. As a result, buildings such as the Marine and Harbors Building were excluded,
as it had its 19th century façade moved to Victoria Square in the 20th century
(Marsden et al 1990:174). There is no way of knowing how representative this study
is of classical style buildings constructed in the 19th century in Adelaide, as many
have been demolished or altered. These aspects were further limitations to my study
area. However, the fact that several 19th century classical buildings are no longer
standing to be able to record, should not be a major issue in regards to understanding
the influences in the choice of architectural style, or implying their social meanings.
Therefore, the buildings that are still standing today are a representative sample of
the classical style buildings constructed in Adelaide in the 19th century.
The dates of these buildings then needed to be ascertained, which was carried out by
cross referencing various publications on colonial history, such as Freeland (1972),
Herman (1963), Langmead and Schenk (1983), Morgan and Gilbert (1969) and
Marsden et al (1990), and by searching the State’s Heritage Register Database
(Australian Heritage Places Inventory 2004). Not all buildings could be ascribed a
secure date, and if they could not be assigned to the 19th century with certainty, they
were excluded from this study.
In addition to the approximately 50 classical style buildings recorded in South
Adelaide, the addresses of gothic style public buildings in Victoria Square, North
Terrace, and the northern part of King William Street were recorded for comparison.
These buildings were mostly religious (i.e. Holy Trinity Church, North Terrace)
(Marsden et al 1990:107) or educational (i.e. Mitchell Building, Adelaide University,
North Terrace) (Mitchell Building 2004) (Appendix 4).
- 39 -
Fieldwork was undertaken to record specific features of the buildings. This required
the construction of a recording form for buildings (Appendix 5), and a Microsoft
Excel database to collate the data (Appendix 6). Another limitation of this study was
that by recording and analysing only the exterior front façade of a building, the other
façades and the internal layout of the building could not be studied, which may show
different architectural features with a different set of social meanings.
Variables for Data Collection
The set of variables originally identified for data collection are (after Burke
Social - building name, date of construction, architect, builder;
Physical - building size, architectural order, architectural style, symmetrical
façade, conventional features (i.e. pediment, balustrade), construction
Geographical - building address, view from building;
Functional - original purpose, change of purpose.
These variables were selected as they would tell me ‘how classical’ a building
constructed in the 19th century in Adelaide was (i.e. were they symmetrical as most
classical buildings were?; did the purpose of the building match the personalities
described by 15th century Renaissance theorists? etc.).
The important aspects that qualify ‘how classical’ a building is, are (Adam 2003):
Architectural style;
Architectural order;
Symmetrical façade (and plan);
Conventional features (i.e. pediment, balustrade).
- 40 -
What makes this study interesting is the divergence from strict classical building
designs and rules. Divergence from historical precedents shows a desire for
individuals, or society as a whole, to break away from its English and European roots
and traditional rules governing classical buildings. This has been noted in previous
studies predominantly due to regional differences, such as the addition of a middle
hallway on houses in Middle Virginia (Glassie 1975:189), or the use of the lotus
flower for column capitals on public buildings in Melbourne (Hope 2003:174-175).
The architectural style names used to classify buildings by Apperly, Irving and
Reynolds (1989) have been adopted for this study, because they are specific to
Australian architecture, and the simplest to follow (Appendix 7). No pre-18th century
European architecture exists in Australia, therefore any use of the term ‘Revival’
would be invalid in this study, as would be the use of architectural style names
assigned and used in Europe prior to the 19th century.
The architectural orders described by Summerson (1963), and illustrated by Claude
Perrault in c. AD 1676 are also used for this study, because Summerson is considered
to be an outstanding academic in this area and his work has a clarity and simplicity
others lack. Adam’s (2003) descriptions of the symmetry of a building and its
conventional features have also been employed, because he clearly states what
qualifies a building as classical. Summerson describes the five architectural orders:
Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite (Summerson 1963:9) (Figures 3.23.11). In Adelaide in the 19th century, architects and builders also undertook various
adaptations of these orders. These alternative orders have been grouped into a
category called ‘Other’ (Figures 3.12 – 3.14).
- 41 -
Figure 3.2 – Tuscan architectural order
[Source: Town Hall, capital of column and
entablature of tower – photo taken 27-08-04
by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.3 – Tuscan
architectural order
[Source: Treasury building, level 1
capital of pilasters at middle
section window – photo taken
27-08-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.4 – Doric architectural order
[Source: Magistrates Court, capital of column
and entablature of portico – photo
taken 9-03-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.5 – Doric architectural order
[Source: Torrens building, level 1 capital of column
and entablature – photo taken 27-08-04 by Deborah
Figure 3.6 – Ionic architectural order
[Source: Supreme Court, level 2 capital of balcony – photo
taken 25-04-04 by Deborah Arthur]
- 42 -
Figure 3.7 – Ionic architectural
[Source: Treasury building, level 2
central section capital of pilaster and
entablature at window – photo
taken 27-08-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.8 – Corinthian architectural order
[Source: The Gallery, level 2 capital of partly rusticated pilaster –
photo taken 27-08-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.9 – Corinthian architectural order
[Source: Newmarket Hotel, level 2 capital of pilaster – photo
taken 2-09-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.10 – Composite architectural order
[Source: Bank of South Australia, level 1 capital of
column and entablature – photo taken 4-04-04 by
Deborah Arthur]
- 43 -
Figure 3.11 – Composite architectural order
[Source: Town Hall, level 3 capital of pilaster – photo
taken 27-08-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.12 – Other architectural order
[Source: Supreme Court, level 1 capital of pier with acanthus leaf design – photo taken 2504-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.13 – Other architectural order
[Source: The Gallery, level 1 capital of rusticated
pilaster with iconic scroll and wreath design – photo
taken 27-08-04 by Deborah Arthur]
Figure 3.14 – Other architectural
[Source: General Post Office, level 2 capital of window column with acanthus leaves, iconic
scroll and human head design – photo taken 21-02-04 by Deborah Arthur]
- 44 -
Several problems were encountered when recording and analysing data. The first
problem was knowing what features of a building to record. The recording form was
set up to include the information detailed in the original variables (Appendix 5).
Each building was recorded using this form, and initially all façades of a building
were recorded. Digital photographs of each building and specific features (i.e.
column capital, pediment, balustrade) were also taken. The front façade of a building
is usually the most decorative, and this shows enough information to determine the
building’s architectural order and style. Only physical attributes on the front façade
were analysed. The only exceptions to this were buildings on corners that had their
main entrance on the corner of two façades. In the case of these buildings, the front
façade and the corner façade were both recorded.
The second problem was finding dates for some the buildings flagged during
surveys. If a building’s construction date could not be confirmed by searching
colonial history books and the State’s Heritage Register Database, then that building
was excluded from this study. If a building’s construction began in the 19th century
but concluded in the 20th century (i.e. the National Mutual Life Association on King
William Street, 1898-1901) (Marsden et al 1990:102), then that building was also
excluded from this study. Further confusion arose as a result from a lack of
documentation, and some conflicting documentation. This confusion is perhaps
understandable as in cases where one person designed the building and a different
person supervised its erection. In the case of different architect’s names and different
dates published, those listed in the most reliable source, which was the source most
recently published and most comprehensively referenced, were used.
- 45 -
The third problem occurred when starting to analyse the data. Too much information
was collected to accurately and effectively compare and find patterns. Therefore, the
main variables of a building were modified to cut down on the amount of detail.
The modified variables for comparative analysis are (after Burke 1999:86,90,92):
Social – building name, date of construction, architect(s);
Physical – architectural style, architectural order (vertical supports and
horizontal members), symmetrical façade, other conventional features (i.e.
pediment, balustrade);
Functional – purpose of building.
A fourth problem that arose was how to describe the architectural style of the
buildings. All exhibited the classical style, but they had different characteristics. The
architectural styles described in Apperly, Irving and Reynolds (1989:41) were used.
The analysis of the data caused the fifth problem in this thesis, as it was difficult to
state the implicit social meanings of the architecture. Explicit meanings were easier
to discuss, as there were many references to the buildings in the documentary record.
It was relatively easy to find and discuss divergences from strict classical rules in the
classical architectural elements on buildings in Adelaide, however stating the
meaning of these differences was problematic.
- 46 -
As the architects, builders, proprietors and other officials such as governors and bank
directors were all men, there is a gender bias in this study. There is no way of
knowing if women would have designed buildings differently in Adelaide in the 19th
century. Those men who made the decisions on what architectural style was used in
the final building or who provided the money for construction were all wealthy, so
there is also a bias towards the richer end of society, and may have been well
educated in classical precepts.
Archival Research
Initial archival research was carried out at the Australian Architecture Archives and
History Research Group at the University of South Australia. Old drawings of
buildings, old newspaper clippings regarding architecture, books on the history of
architecture in Australia and Adelaide, Classical architecture orders, British and
French pattern books, and other items were identified in this collection.
Further archival research was undertaken at the State Library of South Australia.
Primary sources were examined, such as The Register of South Australia and The
Adelaide Observer newspapers. All 19th and early 20th century newspapers are stored
on microfilm, and can be viewed on machines within the State Library. Articles
published in these newspapers in the 19th century described specific design elements
and the appearance of public architecture in Adelaide, as well as how those buildings
were perceived by contemporary observers at the time.
- 47 -
Information recorded during fieldwork and based on the original set of variables is
collated in Appendix 6. In addition to this, Appendix 8 details a brief history of each
building recorded for this study, including recent photographs. The following tables
and graphs summarise the modified set of variables, which will be analysed against
space and time to determine if any trends exist.
Social and Functional Variables
The data collected for the social and functional variables is presented in Table 4.1.
The buildings are noted in order of the year construction finished (marked in bold). If
only one date is noted, then this is the year the building was completed. The
architects noted are those who originally designed the building (Appendix 9), and
therefore may not be the same architects who supervised its construction or modified
its design.
Building Name
Date of
Magistrates Court
Richard Lambeth
Institute Building
Edward Angas Hamilton
Adelaide Club
The Gallerie
Supreme Court
General Post Office
Town Hall
Treasury Building
Edward Angas Hamilton
Botanic Hotel
Michael McMullen
Edward Angas Hamilton
and George Ernest
Edmund Wright, Edward
John Woods and Edward
Angas Hamilton
Robert George Thomas
Edmund Wright and
Edward John Woods
Edmund Wright and
Edward John Woods
- 48 -
Bank of South Australia
Lloyd Tayler and
Edmund Wright
Bank of Adelaide
Edmund Wright
Ambassadors Hotel
J. H. Grainger
Torrens Building
Michael Egan
Newmarket Hotel
Daniel Garlick
State Library, Jervois
Robert George Thomas
Parliament House
Edmund Wright and
Lloyd Tayler
Table 4.1 – Social and Functional variables
[Source: Full list in Appendix 8]
Of the 16 classical style public buildings abutting Victoria Square, the northern part
of King William Street and North Terrace, seven were commercial, seven were
government, and two were educational in their original purpose. The two educational
buildings were government funded and owned, however their original purpose was
educational. Figure 4.1 illustrates that most of the public buildings were either
commercial or government in their original purpose. There were no classical style
religious buildings in any of these three locations.
Original Purpose of Buildings
# of Buildings
Figure 4.1 – Functional variables – Original purpose of buildings
- 49 -
Table 4.1 listed the buildings recorded for this study in order of the year construction
finished. The same order of the buildings is applied in Figure 4.2, which shows their
locations on a map of the city centre. The two educational buildings (2 and 15 on the
map below) are located on the eastern part of North Terrace. This matches Colonel
Light’s plan to focus Adelaide’s cultural life in one location, which was decided to
be along North Terrace (Advertiser 1958:26).
Figure 4.2 – Map of South Adelaide (city centre) and location of buildings
[Source: Marsden et al 1990:52]
[Note: Buildings marked in red are government, buildings marked in blue are educational,
and buildings marked in green are commercial in their original function.]
The commercial buildings are located along North Terrace and King William Street.
The two banks (10 and 11 on the map above) are grouped together, along with a
hotel (12), and these were all constructed within five years of one another. Other
hotels were also constructed around this period (9 and 14).
- 50 -
The government buildings are located around Victoria Square, except Parliament
House, which is located on the corner of North Terrace and King William Street. The
location of government buildings corresponds with Colonel’s Light plan for the hub
of the city to be Victoria Square, which is also the geographical centre of Adelaide
(Morgan and Gilbert 1969:3; Advertiser 1958:102). Colonel Light set aside town
acres around Victoria Square for government purposes (Marsden et al 1990:18), and
on these town acres the government buildings are located. Apart from the areas put
aside by Colonel Light in his city plan, there appears to be no other patterns for the
location of the buildings. However, there are two hotels located on either of the far
corners of North Terrace, perhaps due to the importance given to such social places
in the 19th century.
Adelaide experienced several boom times and depressions. The economic conditions
were generalised for Adelaide from the 1840s to 1900s (Marsden et al 1990:33-34;
Musgrove 1987:1289; Watson 1984:116). The final year of construction for all
classical style buildings was marked with a cross (Figure 4.3).
There was a definite trend for constructing public buildings during boom times in
Adelaide, as there was more expenditure available by the government for building
works. Commercial organisations, such as hotels and banks, also prospered during
boom times, and many required new and larger premises. To ascertain if the trend
was to build classical buildings during the boom times, or whether it was their
function that affected this trend, Figure 4.4 illustrates the general trend of economic
conditions, plotted against the final year of construction for all gothic style public
buildings in the same locations. The building name, construction date, location,
purpose, and architect of these buildings are listed in Appendix 4.
- 51 -
Figure 4.3 – Economic conditions in Adelaide and the construction of classical style
Figure 4.4 – Economic conditions in Adelaide and the construction of gothic style
- 52 -
Figures 4.3 and 4.4 show that public buildings were constructed predominantly
during times of economic prosperity, however it was their function rather than their
architectural style that influenced when they were built. Several religious buildings
were constructed during times of economic depression, therefore they seem to have
been constructed out of necessity. The three churches built during the 1840s and
1850s all had later additions or modifications (Marsden et al 1990:107, 181; Morgan
and Gilbert 1969:9, 20; 59). This shows that although these religious buildings were
constructed during periods when funds were minimal, they were improved at later
dates when more money was available, and when there was necessity for increased
space due to an increase in population size. The Magistrates Court, a government
building built during the late 1840s, also had additions although they were a century
later (Marsden et al 1990:179).
Several architects co-designed buildings, however sources are often unclear as to
which person the design should be attributed to. For instance, Edward John Woods
was given credit for the design of Parliament House, however it was based on the
winning design by Edmund Wright and Lloyd Tayler (Marsden et al 1990:247).
Several architects also came from building backgrounds, such as Daniel Garlick, who
setup a business as a builder in North Adelaide (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:147)
(Appendix 9), or Thomas English who constructed and designed many buildings
(Marsden et al 1990:115) (Appendix 4).
Physical Variables
The data collected for the physical variables is presented in Table 4.2. The buildings
are noted in the same order as Table 4.1, and the data has been summarised from
Appendix 6.
- 53 -
Date of
Construction Style
Symmetri Conventional
cal Façade Features
Colonnade and
Balustrade and
Victorian Free
Tuscan, Doric
and Ionic
Victorian Free
Corinthian and Yes
Victorian Free
Doric, Ionic
and Other
Colonnade and
Victorian Free
Tuscan, Doric,
Composite and
Victorian Free
Corinthian and No
Victorian Free
Victorian Free
Tuscan, Ionic
and Other
Tuscan and
Corinthian and
The Gallerie
General Post
Town Hall
Bank of
Bank of
Ambassadors Hotel
Jervois Wing
Tuscan and
Corinthian and
Second Empire
Tuscan, Doric,
Victorian Free
Ionic and
Victorian Free Tuscan and
Second Empire
[Source: Full list in Appendix 6]
- 54 -
Tower and
Tower and
Pediment and
Colonnade and
Pediment and
Pediment and
Tower and
Corinthian and
Table 4.2 – Physical variables
Colonnade and
The combinations of physical variables listed in Table 4.2 are a measure of how
classical a building is. The buildings show four different architectural styles
prevalent on Adelaide’s 19th century public buildings: Victorian Academic Classical,
Victorian Free Classical, Victorian Mannerist, and Victorian Second Empire. All of
the buildings display either columns, pilasters or piers in the classical architectural
order. Some of these buildings have adaptations of classical orders. Twelve of the
sixteen buildings recorded have a symmetrical façade. All but one building displayed
at least one conventional feature.
Figure 4.5 illustrates the number of buildings displaying each architectural style.
These four architectural styles are explained in Appendix 7. Victorian Free Classical
was a popular style for public buildings in Adelaide, as it was an expression of the
growing prosperity and confidence in society at the time (Apperly et al 1989:59).
This style was used on government, commercial and educational buildings between
the 1860s and 1880s.
# of Buildings
Architectural Style
Victorian Free
Victorian Second
Figure 4.5 – Physical variables – Architectural style
- 55 -
The Victorian Academic Classical style was used on two government buildings: the
Magistrates Court in the 1840s (Appendix 8 – Figure A8.2) and Parliament House
in the 1880s (Figure A8.32). It was also used on a commercial building, the Bank of
South Australia in the 1870s (Figure A8.20). Edmund Wright and Lloyd Tayler codesigned both the Bank of South Australia and Parliament House in this style. The
Corinthian architectural order is common on this style of building (Apperly et al
1989:55), and was used on both buildings designed by Wright and Tayler. All three
of these buildings have a colonnade and portico, presenting a monumental front
façade, which is another common feature of this style.
The two buildings designed in the Victorian Second Empire style: the Ambassadors
Hotel (Figure A8.25) and the State Library, Jervois Wing (Figure A8.31), were both
constructed in the 1880s. This style was also popular in the 1870s and 1880s in
Canada, another British colony (Cameron and Wright 1980:6). These buildings were
commercial and educational, consecutively, in their functions. The two main features
of this style of building are the mansard roof and pavilion massing (Cameron and
Wright 1980:8). Both of these buildings have a mansard roof, although neither have
pavilion massing.
The two buildings constructed in the Victorian Mannerist style: the Gallerie (Figure
A8.7) and the Bank of Adelaide (Figure A8.22), were both commercial in their
function. Edmund Wright, Edward John Woods and Edward Angas Hamilton
designed the Gallerie in the 1860s. Edmund Wright designed the Bank of Adelaide in
the 1870s. Common features of this style are belted columns, layered pilasters,
rustication on column shafts and wall surfaces, and exaggerated keystones (Apperly
et al 1989:64, 67). Both buildings have rusticated column or pilaster shafts, and the
- 56 -
Gallerie has large keystones above the central window arches. Both of these
buildings are two storeys with a basement, and have arched detailing over windows
and doors.
The Classical Revival style was deemed appropriate by architects and other
influential individuals in the 1860s and 1870s for town halls, museums, art galleries,
post offices, and other symbols of culture and ‘worthiness’, as it was a show of
dignity (Freeland 1972:145) (Appendix 3). For such important public buildings the
classical style was the only fit and proper choice.
Figure 4.6 shows when the architectural styles were generally used in Adelaide
throughout the 19th century. These four architectural styles are all revivals of
historical classical styles. There seems to be no pattern in the use of architectural
styles for certain periods, except for the short time span that the Second Empire style
was popular in Australia, Canada and Britain (Apperly et al 1989:69; Cameron and
Wright 1980:8).
Victorian Academic Classical
Victorian Free Classical
Victorian Second Empire
Victorian Mannerist
Figure 4.6 – Architectural styles and periods of their use
All of the buildings display an architectural order or several orders on different
features, however some also display ‘Other’ orders (i.e. a combination of features
such as acanthus leaves, scrolls, wreaths etc). The Other order illustrates architects
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breaking away from the traditional uses of the orders and the strict rules governing
classical buildings, assigned during the Renaissance period. These Other orders use
similar classical features to the classical orders, such as an acanthus leaf design on
the pier of the Supreme Court (Figure 3.12), or the acanthus leaf, iconic scroll and
human head design on the window column of the General Post Office (Figure 3.14).
The Other architectural order is used on all types of buildings, constructed between
the 1860s and 1880s, even on Victorian Academic Classical buildings that generally
use strict classical elements in their proper proportions. This is combined with other
types of decoration. These adaptations to the classical architectural orders are similar
to those used on certain public buildings in Melbourne (Hope 2003:178), in that they
use classical elements not used on the five classical orders, but none the less
classically derived (i.e. scrolls, wreaths). Adaptations of orders were not common
before the Renaissance period, as an indeterminate order was used on the Colosseum
in Rome (Summerson 1963:15), so it was not unknown. Adaptations show architects
understanding yet rejecting the rules governing classical architecture and therefore
purposely creating new designs, as was suggested by Palkovich (in Leone and Potter
Figure 4.7 illustrates the number of buildings displaying each architectural order.
The majority of buildings displaying the Tuscan order used it for window columns or
pilasters, rather than columns or pilasters running the height of the building or one
level of it. The only thing to distinguish the Tuscan and Doric order used for
windows was the decoration, or lack of it, in the entablature (Figures 3.2 – 3.5).
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Architectural Order
# of Buildings
Corinthian Composite
Figure 4.7 – Physical variables – Architectural order
Two of the more richly decorated buildings used the Composite order: the Town Hall
and the General Post Office, as well as a variety of other orders. Both of these
buildings were constructed in the early 1870s at a time of economic prosperity. The
Doric order has been used in Adelaide on both the Magistrates and the Supreme
Court buildings, therefore it has clear military associations as specified by Vitruvius.
It has also been used on other government, commercial and educational buildings.
The Ionic order has predominantly been used on government buildings, along with
the Institute building (educational), which was government funded. The Institute
building was a combined adult educational centre, library, art gallery, museum, and
social meeting place (Marsden et al 1990:26), and therefore could be classified as a
place of learning in Vitruvius’ terms. The Corinthian order was popular for
commercial buildings, and it was also used on some government buildings. It was
only used in times of economic prosperity, probably because buildings constructed in
this order required a lot of detail and thus required sufficient funds. When architects
could afford to use the Corinthian order, to symbolise opulence and luxury, they did.
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Figure 4.8 shows when the architectural orders were generally used in Adelaide
throughout the 19th century. There is no real pattern for the use of a specific
architectural order at a certain period in time. However, the results are distorted by
the fact that no classical buildings in this study were constructed between 1851-1859,
and 1890-1899. It seems that the architectural orders were used in Adelaide mostly
according to taste, circumstances and means, as suggested by Summerson (1963:13).
Figure 4.8 – Architectural orders and periods of their use
Figure 4.9 illustrates the use of the orders for buildings of certain functions. The
Tuscan, Doric and Other orders were used on commercial, government and
educational buildings, to which there seems to be no pattern, although Tuscan and
Doric buildings have been associated with masculine qualities in the Renaissance
period, such as strength and toughness (Summerson 1963:12; Curl 1992:34). The
Ionic order is said to have a “feminine slenderness” (Summerson 1963:12) and it is
often associated with educational buildings. The Ionic order was used on government
and educational buildings, but not commercial buildings. The Corinthian order is said
to have “the slight figure of a girl” (Summerson 1963:12) and is often associated
with ‘virgins’, and it was used on commercial and government buildings. The
Composite order was not awarded any specific characteristics during the Renaissance
period (Curl 1992:34), and it was only used on two government buildings.
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Architectural order and their functions
# of buildings
Figure 4.9 – Architectural order and a building’s function
It appears the orders were mostly used on buildings in Adelaide according to means
(i.e. money available) and taste (i.e. architects preference), as was suggested by
Summerson (1963:13), rather than specific types, such as those assigned by Serlio in
the 17th century (Summerson 1963:12-13). The orders have not always been used in
accordance with their original requirements however. In the Doric order, the frieze
generally consists of alternating motifs (triglyph and metope) (Appendix 2) (Tzonis
and Lefaivre 1986:56-57), however not all buildings in Adelaide adopted this. The
frieze of the Magistrates Court is plain, the Bank of Adelaide only has triglyphs in
the frieze, while the Gallerie has scroll designs along the frieze. These are new
adaptations to the entablature of the original orders.
The location of the orders on buildings in Adelaide has been similar to those of other
monumental classical buildings, such as the Colosseum (Figure 2.3), the Temple of
Fortuna Primigenia (Figure 2.4), and the Theatre of Marcellus (Figure 2.5), all in
Italy (Summerson 1963:15; Blagg 1983:30; Curl 1992:51). The location of the orders
is called superimposition (see Glossary of Terms). On the Gallerie in Adelaide, the
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Doric order was used on the bottom level and on the outer level pilasters for the
second level, while the Corinthian order was used for pilasters in the middle section
of the second level. On the General Post Office in Adelaide, the Doric order was
used on the ground floor, and the Corinthian and Ionic orders on the second floor,
along with the Tuscan and Other orders to decorate windows on both levels and the
tower. The Composite order was also incorporated into the tower. The location of the
orders on some buildings in Adelaide may be a result of architects being aware of
historical associations, and following the same conventions here.
Another physical variable common on all classical style buildings is a symmetrical
façade and plan. Only the symmetry of the external front façade was recorded for this
study (Figure 4.10). Twelve out of sixteen buildings were symmetrical. Of the four
buildings that were not symmetrical, they were all generally symmetrical except for
several elements of the building’s design: the General Post Office and the Town Hall
for example had an offset tower; the Botanic Hotel was located on a corner; and the
State Library, Jervois Wing was attached to other buildings.
Symmetry of Buildings
Not Symmetrical
Figure 4.10 – Physical variables – Symmetry of buildings
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There are several conventional features for classical style buildings, and the
following were chosen for comparison in this study: balustrade, pediment, portico,
colonnade and tower. Domes are also common features on classical style buildings,
but this feature was not present on any building in this study. Figure 4.11 illustrates
what conventional features were exhibited for all buildings.
Conventional Features
# of Buildings
Figure 4.11 – Physical variables – Conventional features
Ten out of sixteen buildings have a balustrade, and others have a metal railing either
on the balcony or roof, such as the Adelaide Club, Ambassadors Hotel, Newmarket
Hotel, and the State Library, Jervois Wing. Ten buildings also had a pediment. Most
buildings had triangular pediments, however other buildings had other forms. For
example, the Bank of South Australia had a large triangular pediment over the
central portico, small triangular pediment over the side windows on the ground floor,
but small semicircular pediments over the middle windows on the ground floor. The
Institute building has a semicircular pediment over the central window on the second
floor and the side windows on the ground floor, and an open triangular pediment on
the central roof area. The Newmarket Hotel has a broken semicircular pediment on
the top of the central wall on the roof.
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Of the sixteen buildings, nine have porticos. Some are larger than others, and some
have been extended when the building was modified, such as Parliament House
(Appendix 8 – Figures A8.32 and A8.33). Most buildings that have a portico also
have a colonnade to support it. The buildings I noted as having a portico but not
having a colonnade, did not match the description of a portico by Morgan and Gilbert
(1969:160). Only five buildings have a colonnade, which would have been an
expensive element in the design, especially as these five buildings were constructed
of stone.
Three buildings out of sixteen buildings had towers. The General Post Office (Figure
A8.11) and the Town Hall (Figure A8.13) are Victorian Free Classical style,
however they have a steeply pitched roof on the top of the tower, similar to the State
Library, Jervois Wing (Figure A8.31), which is in the Victorian Second Empire
style. The height of the tower for the General Post Office was reduced due to
insufficient government funds (Marsden et al 1990:166).
It was difficult to know the original appearance of the buildings in this study as many
of them had changed over time, and some of these changes occurred during the 20th
century. However, photographs were sourced from history books to ascertain as far
as possible how the buildings looked in the 19th century (Appendix 8).
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To understand the social meanings of architecture, one must place the building in its
social context (Glassie 1975:117). This means that buildings need to be considered
both in relation to individuals (i.e. architects, builders, owners) and to society (i.e.
Adelaide). To be able to discuss the social meanings of classical style public
buildings in Adelaide in the 19th century, the social context of how style was used
needs to be understood.
Adelaide was a colony planned by a group of wealthy individuals, and designed to be
an orderly, powerful and controlled society, as well as free of convicts (Watson
1984:79). The plan for the new colony included a grid layout for the city centre that
controlled vehicular and pedestrian movement (Bowe 2004B:4), and that assigned
certain town acres to specific functions (i.e. government buildings to be located
around Victoria Square) (Marsden et al 1990:18). Unfortunately, Adelaide was not as
successful as initially hoped, because farming was poor and ordinary people
struggled to feed themselves, while wealthy businessmen who set-up the state lived
in more opulent conditions (Watson 1984:79). This was occurring at the same time
as large amounts of government spending on roads, bridges, public buildings and
other public amenities, such as that ordered by Governor Gawler between 1838 and
1841 (Marsden et al 1990:21-22). In fact Governor Grey, who followed Gawler, had
to reduce the debt accumulated in the early years of the colony. There seemed to be a
social divide in Adelaide between the wealthy gentlemen and their families, and the
‘ordinary folk’ who worked hard to make a name for themselves and be able to
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provide for their families, as evident in the use of some public buildings, such as the
Adelaide Club (Appendix 8).
This study aims to uncover the social meanings for using the classical style of
architecture. Included in this is understanding why architects broke away from
certain traditions and designed buildings with a mix of classical architectural
elements. Johnson (1993:31) says that these breaks from tradition result from
individuals trying to create, or unwillingly creating, new meanings. The social
meanings of classical style architecture in Adelaide in the 19th century can be
discussed in regards to explicit and implicit meanings, as suggested by Carr and
Neitzel (1995B:454). Explicit social meanings are found in written records, such as
newspapers and books. Implicit social meanings are messages decoded by the
observer of the buildings. Gamble’s (2001:79) two approaches to the study of
society: top-down and bottom-up, are applied here to the meanings of Adelaide’s
public buildings.
Explicit Social Meanings
Primary and secondary sources have exposed several explicit social meanings behind
Adelaide’s architecture. However, most of what was written was by people who
understood the background of architecture and its meanings at the time (i.e. not
‘ordinary folk’). Not only was there written commentary, but also public and
governmental debates and petitions. One of the major discussion points between
architects, builders and other influential individuals was the material the buildings
should be constructed from, which affected many government buildings.
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In regards to the building materials for the General Post Office, controversy raged
from public meetings to parliamentary debates, and it ended in a formal inquiry by a
select committee (Marsden et al 1990:166). In regards to the building materials for
the Town Hall, public debate was rife, and Robert Todd even went as far as to
organise a petition for the front façade to be changed (Marsden et al 1990:163). Todd
thought the choice of building material (concrete) was not appropriate for such a
major public building, and he wanted the government to spend more money and to
use cut freestone. Todd and others may have thought cut stone was a better building
material to use for important public buildings, because it was used on classical
buildings over history, from the early classical period to the Renaissance period and
through to the 19th century, and many stone buildings last a long time and look
impressive because of the natural colours of the stone. In January 1864 there was a
public meeting at the Town Hall, and a further loan of £4 000 was sanctioned by the
council, thus allowing the use of cut freestone for the front façade. As well as public
debate, it appears that one of the architects of the Town Hall, Edmund Wright, was
also concerned with the use of stucco over cut stone, and he also fought against this
decision (Bagot 1958:5). It is unknown if it was Todd or Wright who were the more
influential for the change of building material for the Town Hall, but perhaps it was
the pressure of them both that changed the council’s minds.
The Jervois Wing of the State Library included a series of delays, which included
three royal commissions and government inquiries into the need for the new
building, the location of the building, and the suitability of the proposed design to
suit the already laid foundations (Danvers Architects 1991b:15). Parliament House
also had an enormous amount of public and parliamentary debate. Between 1877 and
1879, four sites were proposed by the government for the site of the new parliament
building, however no agreement could be reached (Danvers Architects 1987:19).
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Eventually a motion was passed by the government in 1881 to spend £100 000 on the
construction of a new building. The contract with the original contractor was broken
due to arguments in 1885 and a new contractor was employed (Danvers Architects
1987:28). The debate these and other buildings encouraged shows how many people
were concerned about the location and design for public buildings in Adelaide. It was
important that the location and appearance of public buildings showed to people in
the city and those that visited, that Adelaide was an orderly, powerful and controlled
During the 1860s and 1870s in Australia the classical style was:
… considered right and proper that town halls, museums, art
galleries, post offices and other symbols of culture and worthiness
should remain massively dignified. For such buildings the Classic
style was the only fit and proper one, but it was solely the Classic
style of Rome that could provide sufficient ornateness (Freeland
Due to the expectations of delivering messages of power and order to its observers,
classical styles were used on many buildings in Adelaide. So many buildings were
designed in different classical styles, especially the Italian style, that a painting of
King William Street created in 1881 (Figure 5.1) was initially considered to be an
Italian town (Marsden et al 1990:37). It was not until mid 1989 when R. T. Home
proved this painting was of Adelaide. This is an example of the similarities between
the layout of the city and design of its buildings that allowed people to think that this
painting was an exotic Italian location.
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Figure 5.1 – King William Street in 1881, Oil on canvas by Charles Marchand
[Source: Marsden et al 1990:37]
[Note: This painting resides in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth,
Modifications to many original building designs were undertaken, mostly due to lack
of funds. Therefore, what the architect wanted to design and what was finally built
were often different, and a lot of the planned detail was not undertaken. The height of
the tower and the scale of the entire building were reduced on the General Post
Office for example (Marsden et al 1990:166). Edward Woods, Architect-in-Chief,
changed the winning design of Michael Egan for the Torrens building, as he thought
his modifications constituted improvements to the building’s appearance (Marsden et
al 1990:176). Although the architects designed ornate classical buildings, much of
their designs were often changed when it came to accepting their design or
constructing the building. There was just not enough money available to design the
buildings to the detail specified by the architects. This meant that buildings in
Adelaide may have been designed in similar classical styles to elsewhere, but they
were done as cheaply as possible. This almost takes away some of the powerful
meanings that were desired for people viewing the buildings to take away, as they
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seem more like attempts by architects and other decision makers to achieve the same
results as elaborate classical buildings elsewhere, but at half the cost. The buildings
are still acclaimed to be beautiful, and they appear to have achieved their purpose.
As well as modifications to buildings, some were erected in two or more stages due
to a lack of funds. The Institute building was built in two stages, 1860-1861 and
1900-1906 (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:15; Marsden et al 1990:261), while the Town
Hall complex consists of four stages, 1863-1866, 1869 (two separate stages in this
year), and 1873 (Marsden et al 1990:163-164). This means that people did not want
to skimp on the appearance of the building, including its style, detail and material,
and they preferred to construct a better building in several stages than use secondrate materials or poor designs. The appearance of the buildings was paramount.
Other changes to the final appearance of a building occurred after the design was
accepted. The contractors for the Jervois Wing of the State Library were asked to
substitute brown Manoora stone for Dolomite for the columns and bands, so as to
reduce the overall costs of the building (Danvers Architects 1991b:25). A lot of
thought went into what building materials would be used on many government
buildings, as it would reflect the colony’s pride in its own resources (Marsden et al
1990:274). People may have thought the materials available locally were of a high
quality, such as bluestone, limestone and sandstone (Marsden et al 1990:35), and as
they could be sourced locally, they should be used locally as much as possible. This
would have had a double meaning of saving costs, rather than obtaining building
material from interstate, as well as showing people living in Adelaide and visitors,
what beautiful products were found in the state, as well as what talented architects
there were to design such impressive structures.
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The design, appearance, problems and solutions for public buildings in Adelaide
were often discussed in local newspapers at the time. Two such papers were The
Adelaide Observer and The South Australian Register. The various articles about
Adelaide’s architecture show there was considerable public interest in how buildings
looked and what public works were occurring at the time. People obviously took
pride in their environment, especially their public edifices. Many public buildings
were used for social purposes (i.e. the Town Hall was used for public and club
meetings) (Marsden et al 1990:163). Those responsible for Adelaide’s public
buildings appeared to have wanted people living or visiting the city to feel a sense of
pride and achievement for their appearance, because they too took pride in choosing
the right materials and designs for the buildings. Many of the public buildings were
impressive structures that stood in prominent parts of the city, such as the
government buildings around Victoria Square, or the hotels on both corners of North
Terrace as you enter the city from the east and west.
Throughout 1879 in Adelaide there was a commercial depression, but by the end of
the year things were improving (The South Australian Register 1880B:5). There were
an increased number of public edifices being erected in the colony that would ‘be of
credit to any city in the world’. This statement by the author illustrates the pride
people had in their public edifices and the city in general. This pride may be linked to
how the city began, a well planned colony of free settlers, and people may have
believed South Australia was better because of these beginnings.
The pride people had in their city may be evident in the boasting by authors in
various newspapers articles. The building design for parliament was discussed in an
article in The Adelaide Observer (1889:36). The winners of first prize were
announced, and the architectural style and orders were described in detail. It is
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debateable how many people actually read or understood the architectural terms
stated in the article. Perhaps this and other such articles were aimed at the social elite
who may have been educated in such classical language, rather than ‘ordinary folk’,
meaning that articles on architecture, although published in local newspapers, were
only understood by a small audience.
The General Post Office building was discussed in detail in The South Australian
Register (1871A:5). The article must have been important enough to be republished
word-for-word in the Supplement to the South Australian Register (1871:1). The
author writes:
The new Post-Office, although not wholly satisfactory in some of
the details of its design, is undoubtedly one of the finest architectural
structures in South Australia, and will not compare unfavourably
with any of the public buildings in the Southern Hemisphere.
The article on the proposed new General Post Office for Adelaide (The South
Australian Register 1871A:5) could mean that architects in South Australia were
trying to compete with those living interstate. In fact, the supervising architect of the
building visited Melbourne to view the General Post Office there, and he used some
of the knowledge he gained throughout the construction of the building in Adelaide.
The authors of the article on the General Post Office (The South Australian Register
1871A:5) comment on how they were shown around the building by the supervising
architect, Mr. R. G. Thomas, and that they gathered some facts of interest for their
readers, such as how much the building will cost, what it will look like, especially
details about the architectural elements. This article may have been read and
understood by a small audience, however the author and editor thought it was
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important to tell their readers. This means that the people controlling the print media
told the public what they thought was important about Adelaide’s public architecture.
In a sense society was moulded and controlled by what they read in the newspaper.
Whether they read, understood or believed the article or not, it was still considered
important to publish.
Two to three storey buildings were being erected in 1879 in Adelaide in the place of
one storey buildings (The South Australian Register 1880B:5). A ‘good example’
was set by the Directors of the Bank of South Australia with their elaborate design
choice, costing around £60 000. Even though the new Bank of Adelaide building was
to cost less than the Bank of South Australia, it “will be a decided ornament to the
corner of King-William and Currie Streets” (The South Australian Register
1880B:5). Therefore, it seems that great expense was not needed to provide beautiful
architecture, but rather well designed buildings. People seemed to be happy with well
designed public buildings, rather than elaborately designed buildings. Again, this
seems to be an issue of people having pride in their city and its appearance. Perhaps
newspapers and magazines at the time showed buildings in parts of Europe that made
people think Adelaide’s architecture was just as beautiful. People travelling to
overseas locations, such as architects on holidays, may have also commented in the
public arena on how beautiful the public buildings in Adelaide were, and how similar
they were to buildings in Europe.
To illustrate the different meanings attached to buildings by individuals, W. Bagot
(1958:6), an architect in the mid 20th century, stated his approval of the design for the
Bank of South Australia building, but he also commented that “most of the panel
enrichment [was] superfluous and inappropriate”. This shows that it was personal
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choice as to whether the detail of the building was liked. However, the general public
appear to be more concerned about the construction material used and the overall
appearance of the building, while architects were also concerned about the
construction material used, along with the detail of the design.
In contrast, another article on the same page states that the Bank of Adelaide, which
cost £26 000, is “exceedingly plain”, although the effect of light and dark stone used
on the building’s façade was “generally admired” (The South Australian Register
1880A:5). Perhaps a different author wrote this article, as the comments about this
building seem to be contradictory to those from the other article. This article shows
that people did think differently about Adelaide’s architecture. Once a building was
completed, few had major modifications. Therefore, if the public or any influential
individuals did not comment upon the design of the building in its initial stages, there
would be no further input.
What is now called the Ambassadors Hotel was discussed in an article looking at
improvements in the city (The South Australian Register 1880C:5). In contrast to the
expenditure on many government buildings, the design for the new hotel would be
estimated at £5 000. The Licensing Board had to approve plans, so they had the
power to veto any design or proposal they didn’t like. The author describes the
design as having a ‘handsome façade utilising a modern style of architecture, but
with traits of earlier historical periods’. The Ambassadors Hotel had Doric,
Corinthian and ‘Other’ orders present, but it was the wings that broke up the façade.
The ‘Other’ order and the location of the wings breaking the external facade gave the
building its ‘modern’ look. What commentators called ‘modern’ in the 1880s, was
actually architects breaking away from traditional approaches to classical
architecture. Modern variants were derived from classical elements, but they used
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them in different ways on buildings. This shows that architects were aware of
changes occurring in architecture overseas, such as discussions by Leeds (1880), and
new terms were designated in Australia to describe them.
In 1883 there was an article complaining about the lack of building improvements
along North Terrace in the area west of Morphett Street (The South Australian
Register 1883:4). However, the area was revitalised by several new public buildings.
Hindley Street was an important street in the north-western part of the city in the
early to mid 19th century, with the eastern half containing shops and the western half
containing houses of important people (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:4). Rundle Street
was also an important street, especially for shopping, in the north-eastern part of the
city in the mid to late 19th century. Therefore, certain parts of Adelaide rivalled each
other for business. The Newmarket Inn was one of the new, luxurious and
progressive buildings in the north-western area of the city. Obviously the city’s
architectural developments continued to illustrate a prosperous economy and growth
overall for Adelaide, and newspapers forwarded this view to their readers.
The secondary sources, mostly history books written in the 20th century, also
discussed several public and parliamentary debates and other matters. This shows
that the appearance of public architecture was a concern, not only for the government
and commercial organisations, but also for the general population, who would use
many of the buildings for meetings or other social occasions. It seems the public
were also concerned for the appearance of their major public buildings, as they
displayed the colony’s prosperity and growth to everyone.
Some newspaper articles today hint at the meanings of Adelaide’s classical
architecture, such as Ellis (2001:5) who looks at the influence of ancient Greece on
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architecture in Adelaide. Ellis (2001:5) quoted classicist Dr Anne Geddes who said
classical architecture has been likened to baroque music: it was introduced as a
theme and then it was varied. Geddes discussed the personalities of the orders, such
as the Doric order being suitable for the administration of justice, such as the
Magistrates Court, due to its impression of ‘strength and restraint’. The concept of
the Orders having personalities was discussed mostly in the Renaissance period (15th
– 18th centuries AD), but it dates back to the writings of Vitruvius (1st century AD).
In Adelaide, some of the buildings show a connection to these gender attributes of
personalities, however, mostly they seem to be used according to means and tastes.
Several of the buildings discussed in the article by Ellis (2001:5) were constructed in
the early 20th century, however they have similar influences and meanings to 19th
century buildings. Geddes said the Bank of South Australia, now know as Edmund
Wright House, was done in the baroque manner and is luxuriously decorated like a
Hellenistic palace. There is also reference to architects varying from tradition, such
as changing the appearance and the uses of columns (i.e. linking columns with
arches). Geddes said “the influence of Greek architecture on Adelaide had added to
the city’s distinctiveness” and is due to the careful thoughts of our predecessors and
their choices (Ellis 2001:5). Some modern cities are untouched by classical
architecture, therefore those that instigated it in Adelaide were in touch with
historical precedents and fashions in Britain and other parts of Europe.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, colonial buildings were seen as significant
links with the past, and many are now preserved as part of our heritage (Page and
Ingpen 1985:86). Progress has also meant that the use of some buildings has changed
over time, such as the proposition to change the General Post Office into an
“international-standard hotel and shopping complex” (Treccasi 2004:3). However,
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the uses of other public buildings have remained the same, while the streetscape
changes around them (Figure 5.2). These changes affect the buildings social
meanings. Although these explicit social meanings can tell us what people said or
thought about public architecture in Adelaide in the 19th to 21st centuries, implicit
social meanings need to be assessed as well.
Figure 5.2 – North Terrace, Institute building and State Library, Jervois Wing
[Source: Photo taken by Deborah Arthur, 2-10-04]
[Note: Institute building (1); State Library, Jervois Wing (2)]
Implicit Social Meanings
Implicit social meanings are those underlying the use of specific architectural styles
and orders, and building materials, by architects, builders and other influential
people. They are also the messages ordinary people take away from their interactions
with these buildings, which may not be written down, but these messages can be
inferred from the archaeology and its social context. Implicit social meanings include
mental representations of social structures, which Clive Gamble describes as a
cognitivist approach in his work on the Paleolithic period (Renfrew and Bahn
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2000:215). Another is the phenomenological approach, which stresses the dynamic
engagement of people with their environment and operates at the level of the
Different meanings exist for the different uses of classical style architecture in
particular social contexts. Implicit social meanings can be analysed in terms of:
Local (Adelaide);
Other colony capitals (in Australia);
Other British colonies;
Britain and other parts of Europe.
Regional influences provided different deviations from existing classical styles,
mostly due to the local climate, topography, or type, quality and quantity of building
materials. These influences, as well as those from individuals, provided new
meanings for classical architecture. Roe (1995:41) discussed resource limitations as a
physical influence on style. A social influence on style was the development of a
local identity through the use of architectural style (Johnson 2002:177).
Another local factor is the geographical location for some public buildings. Light
planned for many important public buildings in Adelaide to be erected around
Victoria Square (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:3). Parliament House was originally
going to be constructed around Victoria Square, however after much debate, the
current site on North Terrace was selected (Danvers Architects 1987:5). This means
that buildings of a certain function had planned locations, even before the designs for
the buildings were completed. The styles of the buildings around Victoria Square
were not entirely classical, as there were some gothic buildings in the vicinity. This
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is important to note, considering the discussions in England about Adelaide’s city
streets being designed in certain styles (Langmead and Schenk 1983:4). Although
areas were set aside for certain functions, such as the geographical centre of
Adelaide’s city for important government buildings, the style for this area was not
dictated. The functional location of buildings contributed to the structure and order
that Wakefield and Light both wanted for Adelaide, as did the layout of the grid for
South Adelaide, and the choice of classical style architecture for many public
Funds available for new public buildings were another local factor, especially when
comparing commercial and government buildings. The General Post Office (GPO)
and the Bank of South Australia (BSA) were both constructed in the 1870s at a time
of economic prosperity in South Australia. The government specified that the GPO
was not to exceed £20 000, but it ended up costing £53 258 (Marsden et al
1990:166). The BSA is a considerably smaller building, and it ended up costing £63
000 (Marsden et al 1990:99). Perhaps during times of economic prosperity,
commercial enterprises could put the majority of their money into its standing
structures, whereas the government had to spend their money on a lot of other public
structures, therefore its funds were substantially limited in regards to public
buildings. This means that architects may have had more flexibility in designing
some non-government buildings, as the conditions were not as strict in the tenders
(i.e. wider choice of construction material, architectural order and style).
At a local level, wealthy and powerful individuals or groups were often a driving
force behind the choice of architectural style (Maitland 1984:16, 20; Clerk 1984:16).
They wanted to give the observers of their buildings the message that they were
important, because they used classical styles, historically associated with power and
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order. Bremmer (1994:1) states that religion in ancient Greece was maintained
through the order and control of society’s elite. In a similar way, society was ordered
and controlled in Adelaide by those wealthy and influential individuals and groups.
The classical style of architecture and aspects such as the city’s grid layout, dictated
how the city centre would appear.
One form of unintentional implicit social meaning was by individuals such as bank
directors, hotel proprietors and government officials, who chose classical designs for
public buildings in Adelaide in the 19th century. I am unsure if any of the entrants in
competitions, which were common occurrences for public buildings, would have
designed in any style other than classical. It would be interesting to see what style the
30 entries received for the General Post Office were, however this information could
not be sourced.
An influential individual in Adelaide was Colonial Architect, Edward Hamilton, who
originally designed plans for a new parliament building in 1857, but at a later time a
design competition was held (Danvers Architects 1987:5, 12). Hamilton said that the
building needed to be designed with ‘good principles’, as all of its faces would be
exposed to view (Danvers Architects 1987:6). This implies that people were
concerned about the appearance of their public buildings, and that they should
illustrate good building practices. Hamilton also said that he used the classical style
rather than gothic in his design, because it was less expensive and better suited to the
climate of the colony (Danvers Architects 1987:6). Perhaps Hamilton was making an
analogy to the warm Mediterranean climates and the use of classical styles there, and
that they would be appropriate for Adelaide, which had a similar climate. This shows
that style was constrained by the local environment in the eyes of the architect.
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There was a definite preference for public buildings in Adelaide to be designed in the
Victorian Free Classical style, which was a reaction against the restrictions of Greek
and Roman revival work (Apperly et al 1989:59). Many architects perhaps felt
restricted by the strict rules governing classical buildings, and they wanted to
experiment and show different classical styles with different meanings. The
Victorian Free Classical style expressed society’s growing prosperity. However,
other styles that were popular in other British colonies were also popular in Adelaide
around the same time, such as the Second Empire style, which was popular in
Canada in the 1870s and 1880s (Cameron and Wright 1980:6). In South Australia,
perhaps influential individuals in the government and commercial enterprises,
wanted to see Adelaide develop its own regional identity, shown partially through its
public architecture with its very ‘public face’.
The breaks from traditional classical architectural orders appeared on all types of
public buildings in the 19th century in Adelaide. They included: the use of art deco
style decoration on the arches above windows, such as for the General Post Office,
Newmarket Hotel, Supreme Court, Torrens Building and the Gallerie (Appendix 6);
a carved coat of arms for South Australia on several buildings, such as the Treasury
building, Bank of South Australia, Supreme Court, General Post Office, Town Hall,
and the Torrens building; carved faces of important individuals (i.e. governors, the
Queen) on several buildings, such as Parliament House, the Town Hall, General Post
Office and the Supreme Court; and the use of the ‘Other’ architectural order for
many buildings. These breaks show that architects in Adelaide were defining their
classical style buildings with other elements that were not always classically derived.
Perhaps they were hoping to make the design more pleasant to the eye of the
observer, or they just wanted a change to the designs already known and published.
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Perhaps the encouragement that authors such as Leeds (1880:100) were giving to
break away from traditional designs was being heard by the architects in Adelaide.
Of the sixteen buildings recorded for this study, they all displayed classical
architectural orders and styles. Twelve had symmetrical façades, and all but one
building had at least one conventional feature. Balustrades and pediments were the
most common conventional features found on buildings. These variables are a
measure of how classical a building is (Adam 2003). Money was probably the main
constraint governing the final design of many buildings, and some classical features
may not even have been considered in the original designs due to monetary
constraints. Even if there were monetary constraints, Johnson (2002:113) states that
there was still a choice being made as to what style to use for a particular building.
This is a limitation to archaeological interpretation and reading the meaning of the
architectural style.
Other colony capitals
The designs of several 19th century General Post Offices (GPOs) in other Australian
capital cities were similar, which Morgan and Gilbert (1969:45) argue may have
been due to “inter-colonial rivalries”. As South Australia was a new colony, perhaps
it felt it had to prove itself architecturally to other Australian colonies. Wakefield and
his associates wanted the colony of South Australia to be well planned and better
than the other Australian colonies (Watson 1984:79). Perhaps architects in Adelaide
wanted to compete with architects interstate, so the buildings they designed, and in
turn the architects, would get recognition in England by word-of-mouth or through
architectural publications.
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Architects may have had their own ideas on what style to design a building, however
these ideas may have been controlled by what their client wanted. Even though a
particular style was not specified in tenders for architectural competitions, the clients
could still have influenced the style by choosing one type over another. The clients,
as well as the architects, would have been aware of the styles of buildings interstate.
They may have wanted to compete at a larger level, that of comparing the works of
similar buildings (i.e. GPOs) between states, rather than comparing buildings by a
certain architect or within a singular region (i.e. Victoria Square).
Other British colonies
The functions of buildings and their styles were similar in Britain and its colonies, as
there was general agreement among architects that classical and gothic styles would
be used for building with certain functions (Freeland 1972:93). This meant that most
government and commercial buildings in the 19th century were classical, and most
religious and educational buildings were gothic. The trend of designing religious
buildings in the gothic style was occurring in other British colonies as well as
Australia, such as Canada in the late 19th century (Cameron and Wright 1980:8;
Maitland 1984:122). However, there were always deviations from this general
acceptance, as architects either disagreed with these conventions, or thought that a
different style would be better suited for the building they were designing. These
deviations may be an example of resistance against the general principles of specific
styles for buildings of certain functions, such as the commercial building designed by
English and Soward in the gothic style in the late 19th century (Appendix 4). The use
of classical style architecture for government and commercial buildings was similar
in other Australian states (Appendix 3).
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Historical trends for classical styles were copied in Britain and its colonies,
predominantly because of their associations with the Roman Empire and the
messages of power, order and structure they impart to their observers. Governments
in the 19th century wanted to associate themselves with powerful and orderly
societies, such as the Romans, and they did this by using classical styles for their
important public buildings. There was a general trend for using classical styles for
the majority of public buildings throughout the 17th to 19th centuries in Britain and its
Britain and other parts of Europe
Fashions and trends in Britain and other parts of Europe were copied mostly because
of the availability of pattern books and other architectural publications that showed
details of the various classical orders and styles. Adelaide, being a new colony,
followed the architectural trends in Europe, because they wanted similar associations
to power and order. Roe (1995:41) discussed copying styles from previous
generations as a cultural influence on style.
While some architects were copying already known styles and classical architectural
elements, available in pattern books and other publications, other architects were
designing different classical architectural elements, which gave public buildings in
Adelaide a different appearance. Some people, such as Leeds (1880:100) were even
encouraging architects to develop new Orders, or design buildings in different ways,
to create new ideas and allow architects to think for themselves, rather than be
dictated by what was written or by what they were taught. Therefore, there seemed to
be a traditional approach by some architects, mostly copying already known designs,
and more innovative architects, who were using the same classical elements in
different ways.
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Adelaide’s Social Meanings
The use of classical style architecture for public buildings in Adelaide during the 19th
century occurred for two reasons: firstly it was an extension of the historical styles
used in Britain at that time and in the preceding century; and secondly it was
deliberately chosen by architects and building owners who shared particular visions
for Adelaide. The vision originally proposed by Wakefield was to have an orderly,
powerful and controlled society, free from convicts, that was also well planned. The
people who made decisions about what architectural style would be used for public
buildings in Adelaide wanted to associate themselves with English traditions and
trends, and wanted to illustrate the order, power and control in the new colony.
Australian colonies, and other British colonies in America and Canada were taken
over by the ‘Classical world view’ in the 18th and 19th centuries, specifically in
relation to its architectural form. Influential people controlled the choice of
architectural style, but less influential people sometimes commented upon the
appearances of their public buildings. This shows people had some concern with
what their city and its public buildings looked like, and they probably took pride in
their well laid out and planned city. Although Adelaide was a new colony, where
theoretically the architects could have designed public buildings in any style they
liked, architects were still controlled by what they knew, what funds and materials
were available, what was popular in other parts of the western world, and what
architectural styles were approved by those people in powerful positions (i.e. bank
directors, hotel proprietors, government officials).
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The main aim of this study was to investigate the social meanings of classical style
public architecture in Adelaide in the 19th century. Other aims were to examine: the
types of classical styles present on buildings; whether these classical styles were used
on public buildings in other Australian capitals or in other British colonies; and what
the influences were in the choice of architectural style.
British colonists in Adelaide used the classical style for many public buildings to
show the people living there, other Australians and the British, that Adelaide was a
thriving, developing, modern town. The public buildings looked purposeful, in that
they were appropriate for buildings of such importance. The Classical world view
that was affecting Adelaide in regards to its architecture in the 19th century, also
affected the layout of the city. It was also affecting other British colonies around the
same time. The studies of architectural style in Britain and several British colonies
all have underlying social meanings of controlling the environment. The British
accomplished this through colonising new regions and bringing with them their tastes
for architecture and other forms of material culture, which they imposed on their new
Different classical styles were used for public buildings of certain functions, such as
government and commercial buildings, whereas the gothic style was mostly used for
religious and educational buildings. Architects that chose the gothic style for
commercial buildings, may have rejected the Classical world view, or they may have
just preferred that style for their building.
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The significance of these findings shows a worldwide pattern in the use of classical
style architecture, similar to Deetz’s (1977) analogy of the Georgian world view for
America. In the Renaissance period the classical style was used due to its
associations with ancient Greece and Rome, and the implicit meanings of this, such
as power, strength and order. Classical style architecture has been used in various
regions of the western world since the Renaissance period, and a variety of styles
were popular at different times. Adelaide was a colony, whose influential individuals
were knowledgeable on the tastes and ideas in Europe, not only in regards to
architecture, but other aspects such as city planning, and social groups, such as the
men who met at the Adelaide Club (Marsden et al 1990:108).
Several different implicit and explicit social meanings were discussed, showing the
variety of influences on the choice of architectural style and its implications for how
people understood it. Generally, the classical style was approved for public
buildings, because it illustrated their importance to society. Other important matters
included the location of the buildings and the materials used, all which architects,
owners, and other influential individuals, saw as important for Adelaide.
Style was influenced at the individual level, through the background and knowledge
of the architects and others who made decisions on the design and construction of the
buildings. Style was also influenced by society and its desire for a unified look, and
style’s associations with historical periods. In the last two thousand years, different
classical styles have been popular in western society. When a new style developed, it
was usually as a result of an architect breaking away from traditions to create a style
worthy of copying by other architects, such as Palladio in the 16th century (Clerk
- 87 -
Certain institutions, such as banks and hotels, used the classical style, as did the
government for the majority of their public buildings. The meanings people would
have associated with buildings of different functions may have been different. It was
definitely the public buildings that sparked parliamentary and public debate,
probably because they were the ‘public face’ of Adelaide, and the government and
the general public wanted them to look impressive and to make a strong statement of
prosperity for the colony’s.
How much the layperson needed to know about architecture to understand it is
unknown. Perhaps the layperson in Adelaide viewed architecture in a similar way to
people with an architecture background, as was found in the study by Hershberger
(1980:22). This means that most people thought classical style architecture was
associated with power and control, because of what was known generally about the
Classical and Renaissance periods (i.e. through books, poems, newspapers, movies).
There appears to be a general acceptance for the use of classical styles for public
buildings, due to their historical associations. This study is therefore a significant
addition to archaeological studies into architectural style and social meaning in
Australia, as it offers a method of interpretation of one form of material culture in
Adelaide, and it presents some reasons behind the choices in regards to architectural
New areas of research that extend from this study include enlarging the sample size
to incorporate all classical style public buildings in both South Adelaide and North
Adelaide. This may result in more defined trends for variables, such as architectural
order and style. Another would be to analyse other variables, such as construction
materials and methods, where social meanings could be compared. It would also be
possible to compare Adelaide’s buildings in more detail to those in other capital
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cities, or to do a similar study in another capital city, such as Melbourne or Hobart, to
see if any similarities exist between the choices of architectural styles and orders.
There needs to be more archaeological studies undertaken in regards to the analysis
of architectural style and its social meanings in Australia, to give archaeologists a
better understanding of how colonists saw themselves coming to this new land, and
why they made the choices they did.
What we classify today as heritage is often protected to an extent by listings such as
the Australian Heritage Places Inventory (2004). However, buildings and other
heritage items can just as easily come off this list as go on it. Adelaide’s ‘significant’
19th century heritage needs to be adequately protected for future generations, so
people can reflect and remember the history of their city.
This study has shown there are numerous influences that affected the choice of
architectural style, and these are similar to the influences in Britain and other British
colonies throughout the 19th century. The architectural styles and orders appear
mostly to be used according to taste and means in Adelaide, rather than historical
associations of the orders with personalities (i.e. Doric = male) or function (i.e. Doric
= military buildings). There are also a variety of social meanings that can be read or
inferred from studying the style of public buildings in Adelaide in the 19th century.
To be a successful colony, the proponents based Adelaide’s appearance on successful
precedents (i.e. city grid layout), using classical style architecture as part of this plan
due to its associated historical meanings (i.e. power of the Roman Empire, which
was linked to their public buildings). Architects and other influential individuals
wanted people living in the city or visiting it, to take away messages that it was
successful, powerful, orderly and controlled. Although Adelaide had its economic
- 89 -
highs and lows throughout the 19th century that affected how many buildings were
constructed, or even their style, many classical style public buildings still remain
today, part of Adelaide’s character and heritage.
- 90 -
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Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Durham 1999, Oxbow Books,
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Johnson, M. 1992, ‘Meanings of polite architecture in sixteenth-century England’,
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Purser, M. 2003, ‘The view from the verandah: Levuka Bungalows and the
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of the Ninth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Durham
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Wilkie, L. A. and Bartoy, K. M. 2000, ‘A Critical Archaeology Revisited’, Current
Anthropology, Dec., Vol. 41, Iss. 5, pp. 747-777.
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Bowe, C. 2004A, ‘The Light myth’, The Adelaide Review, July, Adelaide, pp. 3-4.
Bowe, C. 2004B, ‘A history of the Kingston plan of Adelaide’, The Adelaide Review,
July, Adelaide, pp. 4-5.
Ellis, D. 2001, ‘Ancient Greek influence just a step away’, Adelaidean, Vol. 10, No.
6, July, Adelaide, p. 5.
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The South Australian Register 1880A, ‘Adelaide’, Friday 2nd January 1880, p. 5.
The South Australian Register 1880B, ‘Building Improvements During 1879’, Friday
2nd January 1880, p. 5.
The South Australian Register 1880C, ‘City Improvements’, Saturday 22nd May
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The South Australian Register 1883, ‘Building Improvements’, Tuesday 17th July
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Pickhaver, A. 1973, ‘Architecture of the 1850s: A detailed analysis of Adelaide
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A slab forming the crowning member of a capital,
which appears different in each architectural order
(i.e. Doric, Ionic) (Musgrove 1987:1527).
A plant whose leaves form the lower part of the
Corinthian (order) capitals (Musgrove 1987:1527).
A small temple like arrangement, which became a
common motif in the Classical system. Columns or
pilasters carry a pedimented entablature and enframe
a niche or window (Musgrove 1987:1527).
The beam or lowest division of the entablature, which
extends from column to column. The term is also
applied to the moulded frame round a door or window
(Musgrove 1987:1528).
The curve given to the top and bottom of the shaft of
a column where it expands to meet the edge of the
fillet above the base and beneath the astragal under
the capital (Curl 1992:175).
Cut stone worked to even faces and right angled
arrises, laid on horizontal courses with vertical joints
(Curl 1992:175).
A small moulding with a semicircular profile, a bead,
sometimes a roundel or a baguette; found as a ring
separating the capital from the shaft of a classical
column (Curl 1992:177).
Attic base
The base of a classical column consisting of two torus
mouldings separated by a scotia with fillets; found
with all Orders except the Greek Doric and the
Tuscan (Curl 1992:177).
- 101 -
Refer to
Figure A2.2
Refer to
Figure A2.2
The lower portion of any structure or architectural
feature (i.e. column) (Musgrove 1987:1529).
A projecting platform with access through windows
or doors from an upper floor level and supported on
pillars, posts, brackets or consoles and enclosed with
a balustrade. In Australia it is often roofed (Morgan
and Gilbert 1969:158).
A row of short shafts or balusters supporting a rail or
coping used to fence in a balcony or as an open
parapet (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:158).
The lowest storey or storeys of a building partly or
wholly below ground level (Morgan and Gilbert
Enrichment of an astragal resembling a string of
beads and reels (Curl 1992:179).
The crowning feature of a column or pilaster
(Musgrove 1987:1530).
In the Corinthian capital the caulicoli, caulicolae or
caulcoles are the eight stalks that spring from the
upper row of the acanthus leaves (Curl 1992:181).
A hollow moulding, principally used in cornices, with
as profile the quadrant of a circle (Curl 1992:181).
Architecture originating in ancient Greece and Rome,
the rules and forms of which were largely revived in
the Renaissance period (Musgrove 1987:1530).
A sequence of columns and their superstructure
(Apperly, Irving and Reynolds 1989:277).
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Refer to
Figure A2.2
Refer to
Figure A2.2
A vertical support generally consisting of base,
circular shaft, and spreading capital (Morgan and
Gilbert 1969:159.
In Classical or Renaissance architecture, the crowning
or upper portion of the entablature, also used for any
crowning projection (Musgrove 1987:1531).
The top member of a group of classical mouldings,
usually the cornice; a moulding the section of which
is a curve of contrary flexure (Curl 1992:186).
One of a series of small rectangular or square blocks
placed under a cornice (Burden 1983:218).
A cube, or the body of a pedestal between the plinth
and the cornice, also called the dado; a die is also a
term used instead of abacus (Curl 1992:187).
Ornamental finish, as moulding or projecting
blocking around doors or windows or at corners of
buildings. Also other mouldings projecting over the
face of a wall. Dressings are often of dressed stone,
brick or stucco (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:158).
The convex or projecting moulding, resembling the
shell of a sea-urchin, which supports the abacus of the
Doric (order) capitals (Musgrove 1987:1533).
Also called egg-and-anchor or egg-and-tongue;
enrichment found on ovolo or echinus mouldings, and
consists of upright egg-like motifs with the tops
truncated, between which are arrow-like elements,
repeated alternatively (Curl 1992:190).
In classical architecture, the horizontal members
carried by the columns, pilasters or walls and
consisting of architrave, frieze and cornice (Morgan
and Gilbert 1969:159).
A semicircular or rectangular recess in a wall or
colonnade; originally to accommodate seating (Henig
- 103 -
Refer to
Figure A2.2
Refer to
Figure A2.2
Refer to
Figure A2.2
The face or elevation of a building (Musgrove
A broad band or face used in classical architecture,
often in conjunction with other moulding (Curl
A narrow band used between moulding in order to
separate and define them, found in cornices and
bases; it is not always flat, but is often found cut into
two or more narrow faces with sharp edges between
(Curl 1992:192).
Rounded, vertical channels cut into the shaft of a
column. Never found in the Tuscan order and is an
optional element of the others (Burden 1983:219).
The middle of the three primary divisions of an
entablature: a horizontal band between the architrave
and the cornice. In the Doric order it is filled with
triglyphs, but in the Ionic and Corinthian orders it
often has figure sculpture. It is now loosely applied to
almost any band of decoration below a cornice
(Burden 1983:219).
A raked cornice, as on a pediment (Curl 1992:194).
Architecture of the first four King Georges of
England (1714-1830), but the term is usually applied
to a very simple form of stripped classical domestic
architecture featuring plain window openings with
sashes, door-cases that vary from the elaborate
treatment with consoles, pediments, columns, and
pilasters, to plain openings with fanlights (Curl
An architectural style used in Europe, particularly
between the 12th and 16th centuries, and characterised
by pointed arches, ribbed vaulting, buttresses and
pinnacles (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:157).
The body of doctrine, myth and symbols of a social
movement, institution, class or large group; such a
body of doctrine etc, with reference to some political
and cultural plan as that of fascism, together with the
devices for putting it into operation; the science of
ideas (philosophy) (Hanks and Potter 1971:787).
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Refer to
Figure A2.2
Stone quarried at Kapunda, a town about 100 miles
north of Adelaide. It is sometimes blue-grey in colour
(Morgan and Gilbert 1969:159).
The highest and central stone or voussoirs of an arch;
it is often carved with human heads, sometimes
supporting a bust or other ornament; it is wedgeshaped (Curl 1992:199).
A labyrinthine fret used in bands, often on string
courses and sometimes on friezes (Curl 1992:195).
The space between Doric triglyphs, sometimes open
and sometimes filled with a carved block (Burden
A projecting ornament like a console or embellished
bracket under the corona of the Corinthian and
Composite Orders, and occasionally in the Roman
Ionic Order; they are placed with intervening coffers
or other ornaments between them (Curl 1992:200).
Part of an Order or a building shaped in profile into
various curved or angular forms; any ornament
contour given to features of a building, whether
projections or cavities, such as an architrave or
astragal (Curl 1992:201).
A vertical member dividing a window into sections
(Apperly et al 1989:281).
The plain part of a Roman Doric or Tuscan column
between the astragal at the top of the shaft and the
fillet annulets on the capital; some Greek Ionic
columns have necks, usually enriched with anthemion
ornament; a neck moulding separates the capital from
the shaft proper (Curl 1992:201).
An order in architecture comprises a column (usually
with a base, shaft and capital), supporting an
entablature; there are five Orders: Doric, Ionic,
Corinthian, Tuscan and Composite (Musgrove
1987:1537); Colossal Order is one with columns or
pilasters rising from the ground through several
storeys, and also called Giant Order (Curl 1992:203).
- 105 -
Refer to
Figure A2.2
Palladian motif
The term given by the French to the combination of
arch and columns, where the arch stands over the
columns and the entablatures of which are the lintels
of narrower side openings (Burden 1983:220).
A solid protective wall placed at the edge of a roof,
platform or bridge (Morgan and Gilbert 1969:160).
A substructure placed under some columns in
classical architecture; it consists of a base, plinth, a
dado or die, and a cornice; it may support a statue, a
vase, an obelisk, or some other element; it is also
found as part of a balustrade (Curl 1992:204).
The triangular shape created by the sloping eaves and
horizontal cornice. They are often used ornamentally
as roof decorations or over doors or windows (Burden
1983:220); there are other shapes of pediments, such
as semi-circular or broken.
A mass of masonry, as distinct from a column, from
which an arch springs, in an arcade or bridge. Also
applied to the wall between doors and windows
(Musgrove 1987:1538).
A rectangular feature in the shape of a pillar, but
projecting about 1/6th of its breadth from a wall, and
of a particular architectural order (Musgrove
The projecting base of a wall immediately above the
ground, usually chamfered or moulded at the top; the
square block below the base of a column or pilaster
(Curl 1992:207).
A porch with the roof supported on at least one side,
supported by columns (Morgan and Gilbert
The corner stones at the angles of buildings and hence
the angel itself, which in South Australia is often
formed in brickwork arranged with an indented
vertical edge allowing the corner brickwork to be
toothed into walling built of limestone or bluestone
(Morgan and Gilbert 1969:160).
A band below the taenia and above the guttae in the
Doric entablature (Curl 1992:209).
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In South Australia, a surface of cement mortar
applied to the external face of a wall (Morgan and
Gilbert 1969:160); the plastering with stucco, or
similar, on an outside wall (Curl 1992:209).
A rose shaped patera (circular ornament resembling a
dish, worked in relief) ornament used to decorate
strings, architraves etc. (Curl 1992:209).
Rustication meant a rough way of laying stones in the
Renaissance period (Summerson 1963:24); the joints
of which are worked with grooves or channels to
emphasise the blocks (Curl 1992:210).
A convoluted or spiral ornament; a volute of an Ionic,
Corinthian or Composite capital, or any moulding in
the form of a volute or scroll (Curl 1992:212).
A concave moulding, usually found at the base of a
column or a pilaster between the fillets of the torus
mouldings, or under the nosing of a stair (Curl
The portion of a column between base and capital
(Musgrove 1987:1540).
The vertical division of a building; the space between
two floors, between two entablatures, or between any
other horizontal division (Curl 1992:214).
String course
A moulding or a projecting course running
horizontally across the face of a building (Burden
A mortar, in South Australia usually made with lime,
applied to the external face of walling and suitable for
forming mouldings and other ornamentation (Morgan
and Gilbert 1969:160).
When the orders are used to define the storeys of a
classical façade and set one above the other; they
have a hierarchical order; Doric is used at the bottom,
Ionic above, and Corinthian above that; in taller
buildings Tuscan is used first, then Doric, Ionic,
Corinthian, & finally composite (Curl 1992:215).
- 107 -
Refer to
Figure A2.2
Uniformity or balance of one part of a building and
another; equal disposition of parts and masses on
either side of a centre line, as a mirror-image (Curl
The fillet or band at the top of a Doric architrave
separating it from the frieze (Curl 1992:216).
A large convex moulding at the base of a column or
at the top of a plinth (Curl 1992:217).
A tall building, or part of a building in the form of a
shaft. The plan may be square, circular or polygonal
(Morgan and Gilbert 1969:160).
The vertical block in a Doric frieze comprising two
glyphs and two half-glyphs (hence the ‘three’
glyphs), separating the metopes; triglyph blocks occur
over the centre-lines of columns and spaces between
columns (Curl 1992:218).
A scotia, or concave moulding (Curl 1992:219).
An open gallery with a roof or canopy supported on
light supports; usually placed before the windows of
the principal rooms to shelter them from the sun;
popular during the 19th century (Curl 1992:221).
Local architecture of houses, barns, small shops etc.:
as different from large residences and public
buildings, which are often built with imported
materials, design and technology (Persse and Rose
The scroll or spiral occurring in Ionic, Corinthian and
Composite (order) capitals (Musgrove 1987:1542).
West Island
A grey granular crystalline building-stone obtained
from West Island, situated in Encounter Bay about
sixty minutes south of Adelaide (Morgan and Gilbert
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