Centre for Architecture Theory Criticism History
School of Architecture

Symposium: Constructing Religious Territories

Constructing Religious Territories: Community, Identity and Agency in Australia’s Post-War Modern Religious Architecture

Australia after World War II experienced massive population growth, which was accompanied by a religious building boom. All denominations played a key role in the country’s urban and suburban development. The proliferation of religious buildings in the post-war decades prompted a re-evaluation of the role of the religion in society and heralded a phase of unprecedented experiment in the design and urban placement of religious buildings.

This symposium, the first of its kind in Australia, investigates the connection between religious architectural and urban design and community formation. It examines a heritage that is rapidly disappearing but one that was key in shaping post-war communities. Key questions will be asked:

Community: How did post-war religious design foster community? In what way did religious leaders, designers and the faithful believe that these buildings might contribute to a sense of community? What facilities (in addition to a space for worship) did the country’s various denominations offer to their congregations and also the wider community?

Identity: What ideas about congregation-identity were imbedded in modern religious architecture? For example: migrant identity as transferred from their homeland and adapted for their adopted land; denomination identities and how they profiled themselves differently to each other; and the formation of modern Australian religious identities within urban, suburban, regional and rural locations.

Agency: Who was taking the initiative, or setting the tone in post-war religious design? Diocesan/assembly bodies, the professional press, and/or congregations? What cultural agency did Australia’s modern religious buildings have, and to what extent was this agency and its resulting social change expressed in modern religious design?

Papers explore these themes in the Australian post-World War II context. They focus on the design of individual buildings, their urban setting, a denomination’s regional spread, the positioning of buildings within the same denomination and in relation to neighbouring or competing denominations, and the positioning of spaces of worship in relation to other religiously-funded buildings, such as convents, seminaries, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, social and charity buildings.

This symposium is co-organised and co-hosted by the Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage (ACAHUCH) at the University of Melbourne and the Architecture Criticism Theory and History (ATCH) Centre of the University of Queensland.

Symposium Conveners:

Lisa Marie Daunt (University of Queensland)

Philip Goad (University of Melbourne)

 

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