Exploring regional legacies of colonialism, post-colonialism and internationalism across the late 18th, 19th and 20th centuries is an ongoing concern of architectural historians. Scholarship in the field has examined connections between Australia and New Zealand, and Europe, America and Asia, especially through the lenses of migration and travel. However, an emphasis on understanding the development of architectural cultures within, rather than between or across, what are now modern national and state boundaries has seen such migration and travel connections largely considered as one-way sources of influence, from the metropolitan centre to the Antipodean periphery.
The discovery of gold on the Australian continent in the 1850s prompted extraordinary levels of migration to its colonies, including substantial numbers of professional architects. But that was just the beginning of significant architectural mobility in the 19th century, as economic opportunities in other locations, such as New Zealand and Hong Kong in the 1860s, encouraged architects to new pastures, moving between colonies and concessions as opportunity beckoned. Preliminary research has identified architects with mobile careers and built legacies who moved from continental Australia to China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Concentrating on colonies and concessions of the British Empire, this paper will explore the significant movement of architects between such places – professional journeys along the periphery, rather than from the centre. In doing so, it challenges the precept of the national history as representative of the architectural development of these colonies and concessions whose only frame of reference and influence is an acknowledged centre of architectural culture, most usually England, and in particular, London.
Part of the Architectural History and Theory Seminar Series 2018