ARCT5586 Australian Architecture in a Global Setting

6 points
Not available in 2020UWA (Perth)Face to face
Australia is at once an ancient land under Indigenous custodianship, a vast island continent, an outpost of Empire, a ‘New World' country, and an archipelago of coastal cities punctuating ever-expanding suburban metropolises. How is Australia's architecture reflective (or not) of these conditions? In the more than 200 years since European settlement, colonial concepts of plantation and transformation, New World questions of identity and cultural influence, dominant Modernist ideals prizing simplicity and restraint, and layers of centre/periphery relationships have variously informed the ideas and approaches adopted by architects in the design and development of Australia's built environment. Moreover, as a consequence of its isolated, colonial (as well as postcolonial) and New World conditions, Australia's architecture has always been involved in and characterised by cultural exchange with ideas and practices from overseas, though the avenues of influence have changed over the generations. Similarly shaped have been the histories and critiques of architecture in Australia.

This unit examines architectural thought and practice in Australia in relation to (1) historical background and historiographical context; (2) pertinent theoretical frameworks that illuminate the colonial/postcolonial underpinnings of architectural development in Australia; (3) evolving global and regional contexts and shifting international relations; and (4) current and emerging local and global ideas about and approaches to urbanism, sustainability, digitalisation and so on. Importantly, the unit questions the applicability of the term ‘Australian architecture' and, in turn, explores the historical, regional, intellectual and methodological variety and diversity of architecture across Australia. Students are encouraged to reflect critically on the ways in which they might think and act inventively, productively and ethically as architects operating in a global setting.
Students are able to (1) articulate the complex factors and conditions that have influenced the evolution of architecture across Australia; (2) identify and describe the ways in which particular examples of cultural exchange or global influence have shaped architecture in Australia; (3) perform advanced analysis and critique of the relationships between architectural thought and practice in Australia; (4) demonstrate advanced levels of knowledge about and literacy in the catalogue of Australia's architectural genres and themes; and (5) demonstrate enhanced ability to respond critically and inventively to current and future questions confronting architects in Australia.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a group project (such as a seminar presentation or short film) designed to extend and amplify the issues arising in the unit and requiring the critical analysis of a nominated building, urban project or piece of writing and (2) a major illustrated essay (4000 words) exploring an aspect of Australian architecture, selected from a list of topics or devised by the student in consultation with the coordinator. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Kate Hislop
Contact hours
seminars: up to 3 hours per week
Enrolled students can access unit material via the LMS (Learning Management System).
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.