Cultural Transfer: A New Way to Understand the Avant-Garde in Australia (summary)

Deborah Ascher Barnstone (PDF)

Modern architecture outside the supposed centers in Europe and the United States has long been theorised as unoriginal regional copies of imported ideas. Much of the scholarship of Australian modern architecture is no different. Yet, culture has never originated in one part of the world only; it has always been a product of transnational exchange. And ideas brought in from overseas have always been subject to complex processes of acceptance, adaptation, and reinterpretation. This paper looks at several important Australian writings and buildings from the period between 1930 and 1960 to unpack some of the ways that modern aesthetics were developed down under as combined responses to foreign ideas and the unique Australian climate, nature, and lifestyle.

Keywords: Australian architecture, Australian modernism, critical regionalism, cultural transfer