Image Building: Examining Australia's Diplomatic Architecture in the Asian Region, 1960-1990

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Copyright: Gower, Rowan
Since the opening of Australia House in London in 1918 Australia has established a further 113 diplomatic missions throughout the world. The expansion of Australia’s embassy network paralleled its increasing independence as a nation and the recognised need to engage in world affairs to both protect and promote national interests. While some historians have examined embassy buildings from either an architectural or political point of view this thesis links architecture and politics by undertaking a detailed investigation of the overseas works programmes of Australia and the administrative bodies which have managed them. Although these programmes were implemented globally, the focus of this research is on the development of Australia’s diplomatic premises in Asia from the 1960s to the 1990s. This emphasis has allowed the thesis to capture the way architecture and politics interacted during a period of great change which saw the rise of nationalist aspirations, the division of the world into Cold War alliances and the emerging importance of regional trade-based economies. In response, consecutive Australian governments supported a policy of engagement which resulted in eleven diplomatic missions being constructed throughout Asia during this time. To present a study of the role and perspectives of politicians, bureaucrats and architects in generating buildings to meet the functional and representational needs of diplomacy this thesis adopts a composite approach similar to that used by historians who have undertaken research into the embassy buildings of the United States and United Kingdom. This allows a composite picture to be constructed through surveying multiple archival and secondary sources from the political, bureaucratic and architectural fields. In employing this unifying approach, the thesis provides an insight into the representational needs and complex relationships that exist between politics, government bureaucracy and architecture, and demonstrates that the resulting buildings, although intended to represent Australia on the world stage, are in fact representative of these interactions and the recognition by government of the value that Australian-based architects and their practices bring to the creation of diplomatic buildings.
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Gower, Rowan
Hogben, Paul
Margalit, Harry
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PhD Doctorate
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