Panel: Learnings from Australia's Post-War Apartment Buildings

Fooks Apartment Interior

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Holly Jones

    This panel of architectural historians will discuss the post-war apartment boom in Australia, and the range of solutions that were provided to the then acute housing shortage.

    The detached house dominates both the Australian suburban landscape and our architectural histories. Yet what narratives have been lost to architectural history when the single house prevails? Miles Lewis wrote in ‘Suburban Backlash’ in 1999 that “Even now there remains a degree of suspicion about a form of accommodation historically occupied by fast livers, welfare recipients and European refugees.”

    Our panel will discuss the post-war apartment boom in Sydney and Melbourne illustrating a wide range of projects from walk-ups to towers, state-built housing and privately led development, luxury dwellings to cramped quarters, and the innovative solutions promulgated at the end of the 1960s. We also consider various prejudices against much of the flat typology and its residents, from the moral panic of the post-war ‘Australian way of life’, to the at times thinly veiled disdain of the avant-garde.

    Hosted by Professor Alan Pert, ACAHUCH Member and Director of the Melbourne School of Design, the University of Melbourne, the seminar will feature an inspiring dialogue between panellists, with an opportunity for Q+A at the end.


    About the Hallmark Research Initiative for Affordable Housing:

    Melbourne, Australia, is facing rapid population growth and a severe housing affordability crisis. Home purchase is among the least affordable in the world, and there is an acute shortage of low-cost rental housing. The Affordable Housing initiative was created to address these challenges. Challenges that can’t be solved by one discipline alone.

    The initiative supplies seed funding for projects to create interdisciplinary research partnerships both across and outside the University. The aim is to generate new insights and impact relating to affordable housing. It is now in its second year.

    Fooks Tower

    Above: Housing Commission Towers, North Melbourne, Ernest Fooks
    Image Credit: State Library of Victoria

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