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Politics and school buildings: constructing an educational infrastructure for free trade New South Wales, 1889-1891


Orr, K, Politics and school buildings: constructing an educational infrastructure for free trade New South Wales, 1889-1891, Fabrications, 27, (1) pp. 47-70. ISSN 1033-1867 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand

DOI: doi:10.1080/10331867.2016.1262715


This essay considers the architectural interface between political ideology and educational reform in the fifth and final government of Sir Henry Parkes (8 March 1889–22 October 1891). It examines the interconnected roles of the New South Wales Minister of Public Instruction, Joseph Hector McNeil Carruthers, and the Architect for Public Schools, William Edmund Kemp. The period, close to three years, during which the pair worked together led to a series of remarkable buildings, including the Sydney Technical College, the Sydney Technological Museum and fine public school buildings, such as Kogarah, Albury Boys’ and Wagga Wagga South. These buildings reflect Carruthers’ philosophical commitment to the ideology of liberalism and free trade and an enhanced school curriculum to support it, elucidated in his prolific public speeches and annual ministerial reports. The buildings also reflect an evolution in Kemp’s school architecture in response to the new curriculum and Carruthers’ desire to give public education a civic presence. Together, Carruthers’ and Kemp’s shared belief in architecture’s fundamental role as expressing material progress and promoting an informed citizenry supported architectural experimentation that delivered distinctive government buildings. The significance of the relationship between this politician and architect is recognised for the first time.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:William Edmund Kemp, Joseph Hector McNeil Carruthers, NSW Public Instruction Act 1880, NSW Minister for Public Instruction, NSW Architect for Public Schools, New South Wales, architecture and politics
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Orr, K (Professor Kirsten Orr)
ID Code:114102
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2017-02-06
Last Modified:2018-06-19

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