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100 years of architecture at QUT

To celebrate a centenary of teaching architecture at QUT, we present our 100 year history of architecture, and a special series of centenary events throughout the year.

Architectural foundations

Today, QUT is a place of nurture and inspiration for the next generation of architects and designers.

For 100 years, the revered red brick buildings of our Gardens Point campus have been the setting for the formative steps in the careers of thousands of architects.

Take a journey through our institute's history, as we celebrate the centenary of architecture at QUT.

Step back in time

Events

QUT Architecture Centenary Gala Dinner

Saturday 16 November, 6-10pm
Room 360, Gardens Point campus

This signature event aims to be a wonderful celebration of the centenary of achievements in architectural education and practice at CTC, QIT and QUT.

Come along for a night of networking, special guest presentations and entertainment.

Buy tickets

Gala Dinner guest speaker - Tim Ross

Tim Ross, TV and radio presenter, comedian and passionate architecture and design advocate and enthusiast, will join the gala dinner as a guest speaker.

Over the last six years, he has performed his live Man About the House show in architecturally-significant buildings and homes all over the world. Turning each venue into a temporary theatre, Tim and musical partner Kit Warhurst perform sold-out shows in buildings designed by a who’s who of Australian architecture.

With thanks to our sponsors

A history of architectural education

Establishment of the Diploma of Architecture 1918-1934

From 1912-17 Arnold Conrad, Chief draftsman Atkinson & McLay (forerunners of Conrad Gargett) taught Building Construction and Drawing, Elementary Engineering and the History of Architecture. Conrad was succeeded by Charles Ford Whitcombe and was responsible for establishing the Diploma in Architecture course in 1919 at our predecessor institution, the Central Technical College (CTC). By 1922 he was in charge of both the architecture and building construction courses. He inaugurated the Queensland Institute of Architecture’s Gold Medal, a continuing award to the top student overall in the Diploma of Architecture course.

Francis L. Jones and R.P. Cummings 1930-37

When Whitcombe retired in 1930, he was succeeded as Chief Instructor at the CTC by Francis Lionel Jones. In 1934 the administration of the building and architecture courses at the CTC were separated with C.L. Virgo continuing as the lecturer in Charge of the Diploma of Building Course and R.P. Cummings appointed as part-time Lecturer in Charge of the Diploma in Architecture. Cummings made important changes in the stylistic direction of the course through the introduction of design theory lectures on the fundamental principles of architecture.

Pioneering women at the CTC

A history of architectural education can be read in parallel with a history of women in architecture. Previously, a career was dependent on having a position within a practice, with only a few firms willing to offer these positions to women. As such, the establishment of architectural qualifications towards the end of WWI led to the first cohort of women in architecture in the interwar period. Four significant female architecture students included Dorothy (Dolly) Brennan (graduating in 1923), Elina Mottram and Eunice Slaughter (pictured, graduating in 1925) and Ursula Jones (graduating in 1933).

Charles Fulton as educator 1936-1971

When Cummings departed in 1937, Charles Fulton stepped into the position and remained the head of the architecture course for 33 years. Fulton had been invigorated by the advent of modernism during working and travelling in Europe during the early 1930s, and led the teaching of history in the course. Fulton, however, did not formally teach modern architecture as part of the history curriculum.

Fulton was a pioneer of the integrated application of the practice (1937-80) and teaching (1936-71) of architecture in Australia. He involved many practicing architects and staff in teaching students at the CTC, who in turn provided the opportunity for in-house training to students and new graduates in the practices where they were working.

Innovation from Eddie Codd 1972-1979

Eddie Codd sought to establish a broad based multidisciplinary, full-time education in the built environment professions and to discontinue the existing discipline specific part-time programs, except in senior years. The educational structure and content of Codd’s new proposal consisted of three years of full-time study, with a common first year across all disciplines followed by discipline streaming in later years, but including common subjects and cross-disciplinary design projects. Inspired by Bauhaus practices, Codd initiated a resource centre and a large workshop to support problem-solving through experience in handling materials and in making objects. He felt he succeeded in more appropriately preparing graduates to be leaders in creating better environments.

Evolution with Tom Heath 1979-1993

Tom Heath was appointed as head of the School of Built Environment in 1979. Heath had the capacity to bring new leadership dimensions to the role, especially in strengthening theory and research. During Heath’s term, he encountered increasing pressure from the professions to strengthen disciplinary knowledge in the undergraduate program. This resulted in fewer common subjects and less collaboration across the disciplines. Heath was less interested than Codd in workshop activities and not at all interested in field studies. He advocated strong theoretical underpinning and reliable methods to solve design opportunities.

Transitions for the Faculty of Built Environment

The Faculty of Built Environment merged with the Faculty of Engineering in 1990-1991, with Tom Heath appointed as the Research Professor of Design in 1991. Peter Cheney, who had been head of the architecture discipline from the mid 1970’s, stood down as head of the Charles Fulton School of Architecture, Interior and Industrial Design in 1986. Cheney was replaced by Dr Bill Lim who was recruited from the University of Singapore. Professor Bill Lim was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award in 1990 to undertake research on tall buildings in the USA. He was the first QUT academic to receive the award and was later appointed Emeritus Professor in 2002.

Maturation with Gordon Holden 1993-2000

Gordon Holden was appointed Head of the School of Architecture, Interior and Industrial Design in 1993, contributing to a review and restructure of the undergraduate programs and phasing out the Graduate Diploma in Architecture program. A new building for the Faculty was constructed in 1999, designed by Bligh Voller Architects with past QIT architecture graduate, Shane Thompson, as the design architect. By the turn of the millennium, a strong research publication culture was in place, balanced with a diverse curriculum. Architectural education resembled Codd’s model in terms of structure, content and cross-disciplinary projects but had lost the hands-on materials aspects.

Changing times 2000-2006

Various changes have shaped the architecture discipline we have today. In 2002, architect John Hockings was appointed as Head of a new School of Design and Built Environment. A period of internationalisation commenced through an offshore program in Hong Kong and a series of field trips throughout Asia and Europe. In 2005, the Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering restructured into three schools, with architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and industrial design reformed as the School of Design. Hockings returned to practice and Jill Franz, as Acting Head of School, oversaw the school-aligned curriculum that delivered new four-year undergraduate courses in Design, Urban Development and Engineering. Architecture students took advantage of this opportunity for cross-faculty study, before going into a focussed one-year Master of Architecture as the terminal professional degree.

From Built Environment to the Creative Industries 2006-2019

In 2006, John Frazer was appointed Head of the School of Design, having previously been the International Research Coordinator at Gehry Technologies Digital Practice Ecosystem. Under his leadership, architecture entered a new era of digital design with productive impact and outcomes in teaching, practice and research. In 2010 the appointment of architecture academic Paul Sanders as Head of School was concurrent with the large-scale change to relocate the School of Design into the Creative Industries Faculty, and created the context within which architecture sits today.

In 2016, Margaret Petty joined from the University of Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand as Head of Design to oversee another large-scale curriculum change to a three-year Bachelor of Design degree structured to facilitate a wide range of double degrees. In September 2018, Lisa Scharoun was appointed as Head of School and the following year, the first students in the new course commenced their studies.

Sources

Timeline contributions from Don Watson, Kirsty Volz, Marissa Lindquist, Emeritus Professor Gordon Holden and Eddie Codd, Sheona Thomson, Dr Anoma Kumarasuriyar, and Dr Lindy Burton. Edited by Professor Paul Sanders.

Costello, F.G.  (1976) A History of the Courses of Study at the Central Technical College and the Queensland Institute of Technology which led to the establishment of the Queensland University of Technology (unpublished notes).

McDonald, I. (1983) Early Modern Brisbane: Some aspects of the development of modern architecture in Brisbane before World War Two (unpublished thesis).

Photo of Eddie Codd courtesy of Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture: Architecture Theory Criticism History Research Centre - University of Queensland.

Photo of Eunice Slaughter from "Building the Home Beautiful" The Telegraph 2nd July, 1936 p16.

QUT is in the process of compiling further information and knowledge on the history of its architecture course with a view to publish a more extensive volume. We will be most grateful for any personal archives in the form of photographs, drawings and texts etc. to be forwarded to ps.sanders@qut.edu.au for consideration for a future publication on architecture education at QUT.

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