Autopia: The Car and the Modern City

About the Conference

The Australian Centre for the Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage (ACAHUCH) and Melbourne School of Design at University of Melbourne will host the 2018 conference of Automotive Historians Australia (AHA) from 11-12 August 2018.

In this third annual conference we invite papers that consider the impact of the automobile on all aspects of urban life, focusing on the theme of "Autopia: the car and the modern city".

For more details, please see the AHA webpage.

Please note that registration for student attendees is free.

A taste of the papers to be presented at the conference:    

Creating the Educated Driver: The Practical Australian Motorist Illustrated AnnMarie Brennan will examine this 1953 book and demonstrate how it attempted to educate the public about the inner workings of the motor car, enabled people to choose, maintain and repair their car and helped establish an automobile culture in Australia.

Early Automotive Contests in Urban America Urban and suburban settings like Brighton Beach on Coney Island, Empire City in Yonkers, Morris Park in the Bronx and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn were the venues for early American auto races. H. Donald Capps will look at this aspect of the relationship between the automobile and the urban environment.

The Automobile and Fishermans Bend - Did the automobile make Fishermans Bend or did Fishermans Bend make the automobile?

In this paper Norm Darwin examines the importance of Fishermans Bend to the Australian automotive industry and why it evolved into a manufacturing centre for vehicles and parts. While the machinery of making automobiles is now silent, links remain and point to a future in design, engineering, training and selling of motor vehicles.

Eleanor Dark’s Return to Coolami (1936), a pioneering road novel In this paper that draws on the role of the interwar novel in the construction of Australian modernism, Harriet Edquist examines the pioneering Australian road novel Return to Coolami in which the car, a green Madison tourer, and the road are vital elements in a narrative of psychological, emotional and intellectual awakening.

Featurism and the Fishbowl: Robin Boyd’s Drive-in Design for 1969 Philip Goad argues the design for ‘Neptune’s Fishbowl’, a drive-in takeaway fish and chip outlet on Toorak Road South Yarra, was not only part of a new architecture designed for the road, but was part of an emerging acceptance that automobile-related architecture might play a decisive role in shifting opinions about the aesthetics of the city.

Behind the shield: glass as vehicle of technological transfer from the automotive industry to the buildings of the International Style Giorgio Marfella analyses the technological affinity between the automotive and construction industries by examining how laminated glass technology that enabled curved car windshields was applied to the architectural and construction industries in the buildings of the International Style.

Concrete and Ramps: Stories from the Carpark Representations of underground and open-deck carparks range from generic film noir scenes to vistas of suburban monotony. By examining physical carparks and their representation in films centred on young people living in Australian cities, Renee Miller-Yeaman explores the physical and psychological relationships between the carpark and its adjacent shopping mall, focusing on how this typology demarcates boundaries of economic and social exclusion and inclusion.

One Hawaiian pack to take away: the architecture of Australian fast food Andrew Murray examines the landscape dominated by buildings and signage designed to be consumed at speed and documents the emergence of the fast food industry in Australia and the wide range of buildings this industry produced.

Post-manufacturing: The state of manufacturing in Victoria after the 2017 automotive production closures Much is still unknown about how industry is responding in the wake of automotive production closures. Mark Richardson and Simon Lockrey use data from expert interviews and literature reviews to compare predictions to the actual outcomes, providing insights to help plan ahead and meet emerging challenges.

Women at Work - Early Auto Industry Publication Photographic Documentation
One of the largest identifiable anonymous labour force groups were women, who were far less credited for their day-to-day contributions than their male counterparts. The focus of Francis Clax's paper is on early auto industry factory floor photos of female employees documented by industry publications at such companies as Motometer, Cadillac, Chalmers, Maxwell and Packard.

About Automotive Historians Australia

The AHA promotes research, education, archival collection and dissemination of knowledge about the history of the Australian automotive industry, and involves members, industry and others in this history through publications, events, meetings and conferences.