Constructing Religious Territories: Community, Identity and Agency in Australia’s Modern Religious Architecture

Image for Constructing Religious Territories: Community, Identity and Agency in Australia’s Modern Religious Architecture

Japanese Room, Level 4, Melbourne School of Design

About the symposium

This symposium seeks to investigate the connection between religious architectural and urban design and community formation.

Post-war Australia experienced massive population growth, which was accompanied by a religious building-boom. In this period, Australia’s various denominations played a key role in the country’s urban and suburban development, alongside government and secular actors. The proliferation of religious buildings prompted a re-evaluation of the role of the religion in society, and heralded a phase of experimentation in the urban and architectural design of religious buildings.

Symposium convenors:

  • Lisa Marie Daunt (University of Queensland)
  • Philip Goad (University of Melbourne)

Scientific committee:

  • Janina Gosseye (University of Queensland)
  • Hannah Lewi (University of Melbourne)
  • John Macarthur (University of Queensland)
  • Sven Sterken (KU Leuven)

Call for Papers

We seek contributions that address (but need not be limited) to one or more of the following themes:

  • Community: How did post-war religious design foster community? In what way did religious leaders, designers and the faithful believe that these buildings might contribute to a sense of community? What facilities (in addition to a space for worship) did the country’s various denominations offer to their congregations and also the wider community?
  • Identity: What ideas about congregation-identity were imbedded in modern religious architecture? For example: immigrant identity as transferred from their homeland and adapted for their adopted land; denomination identities and how they profiled themselves differently to each other; and the formation of modern Australian religious identities within urban, suburban, regional and rural locations.
  • Agency: Who was taking the initiative, or setting the tone in post-war religious design – diocesan/assembly bodies, professional press, congregations …? What cultural agency did Australia’s modern religious buildings have, and to what extent was this agency and its resulting social changes expressed in modern religious design?

Papers are sought which explore these themes primarily in the Australian post-war context. However, submissions from further afield that can shed new light on developments in Australia will also be considered. We particularly call for papers that not only consider the architectural design of individual buildings but also their urban setting, denominations’ regional spread; the positioning of buildings within the same denomination and positioning of buildings in relation to neighbouring/competing denominations; the positioning of spaces of worship in relation to other religiously-funded building, such as convents, seminaries, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, social and charity buildings, etc.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted to

Submissions can either be for 20-minute full papers, or for 10-minute lighting talks.

Submission timeline

Tuesday 17 April 2018               Call for Papers

Friday 1 June 2018                    Abstract submission deadline

Friday 15 June 2018                  Notification of acceptance

Tuesday 14 August 2018           Submission of papers (minimum 2000 to maximum of 5000 words)

Wednesday 15 August 2018      Circulation of papers to the scientific committee, respondents, and presenters

About the organisers

This workshop is co-organised by the Architecture Criticism Theory and History (ATCH) Centre of the University of Queensland and the Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage (ACAHUCH) at the University of Melbourne.

On Thursday 23 August 2018, we will organise a post-war religious building tour in Melbourne.


A small fee will be charged for participation in the symposium, as well as a (separate) charge for those wanting to participate in the building tour. More information on registration will be announced shortly on the websites of ATCH and ACAHUCH.