“Things like the BALM Paints factory in Port Adelaide, it’s just a cracker, it’s pure Bauhaus. Then it goes all the way through to the 1960s and 70s – the very last building is the State Bank building on the corner of Pirie Street and Gawler Place, which is actually early 80s but I think looks 70s. It’s arguably the last brutalist building to be built in Adelaide – and not long for this world unfortunately.”
The book offers a trove of information gleaned from old design journals, records and lifestyle magazines, along with insights Symons gathered on the ground talking to home owners and those who knew and worked with architects of the period. Many of these sources, Symons explains, have been hosts or attendees of his tours.
“But rather than just say, ‘here’s the buildings, here’s the
design’, I’m trying to tell a story of Adelaide’s growth and evolution through
that period particularly after the Second World War and the optimism, that
growth and belief in design’s ability to create a better future.
“You had this really energised, motivated wave of young architects who just wanted to get out there and create a better society with this new form of architecture. It was a very visible embodiment of what was going on in Adelaide and South Australia as our economy was booming – our population growth was higher than the rest of Australia right up until the 1970s. With all this economic growth and all this manufacturing came the growth of suburbs, office buildings in the city, schools and universities and churches. “At the heart of it all was modernist architecture, and the book tries to run that thread through it.”
Modernist Adelaide: 100 Buildings 1940s-1970s is available from 12 December