Centre for Architecture Theory Criticism History
School of Architecture

Tropical Variety and Queensland Architecture (1850–1914): Building Better Understandings of the Culture of Architecture and Climate Change

Team: Project Timeframe: 2014 -

Western ideals of beauty have often been bound to an image of the natural world. Tropical climates and the physical environments they produced were also often seen to be degenerative to the creative impulse. In the mid-nineteenth century, in response to scientific exploration and the colonial experience, European ideals of beauty shifted their points of reference from temperate to tropical environments. Investigating architectural design in 19th century Queensland, the project seeks to understand how English theories on creative invention responded when transplanted into a tropical setting. The research will have significance in understanding Queensland’s history and the cultural corollaries of climate and environmental science. Documenting cultural products of climate change, the research will also complement emerging UQ research strengths in Climate Change and Architecture and Culture.

Related Publications: 
  • Publications  

    Deborah van der Plaat, “Climatic Discomforts: [Sub] tropical climates, racial character and the nineteenth-century Queensland House,” in David Ellison and Andrew Leach, Discomfort (Oxon: Routledge, 2017), 51-63.

    Deborah van der Plaat, ‘Hardy Wilson, Georgian Revival and Race in Twentieth Century Australia.’ Conference of the European Architecture History Network (EAHN), Dublin, June 2016.

    Deborah van der Plaat, “Visualising the Critical Temperament. Artistic Convention and Eclecticism in Oscar Wilde’s Writings on the Decorative arts,” Journal of Australasian Victorian Studies, special issue, 19:1, 2014, 5-19

    Deborah van der Plaat, “ Architecture of Sun and Soil. European Architecture in Tropical Australia,” In: Michela Rosso, Investigating and Writing Architectural History: Subjects, Methodologies and Frontiers. EAHN 2014 Torino: Third EAHN International Meeting, Turin, Italy, (1119-1129). 19-21 July 2014.

    Deborah van der Plaat, “North of the 28th Parallel: Climate, Character in the Queensland House,” In: Christoph Schnoor, Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 31, Translation. Translation, Auckland New Zealand, (865-879). 2-5th July 2014.

     Deborah van der Plaat, “Climatic Crisis: Place, Taste and Race in Hardy Wilson’s ‘Dawn of a New Civilization’ (1929),” Architectural Histories, 1(1): 22, 2013, DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/ah.aw

    Deborah van der Plaat, Formal Vocabularies. Cosmopolitanism, Analogy and Orientalism in Oscar Wilde’s writings on art and architecture, AVSA 2012, Victorian Vocabularies, Griffith University, Brisbane, 11-14th April.

    Deborah van der Plaat, ‘Contrasts (difference and agency) in Nineteenth Century Architectural Criticism: Pugin, Ruskin and Wilde,’ Fabulation, Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Launceston, July 2012, paper accepted May 2012.

    Deborah van der Plaat,  "Cosmopolitan Interiors:  Oscar Wilde and the House Beautiful."

    Interstices Journal of Architecture and the Related Arts 12, (2011): 48-58.

    Deborah van der Plaat, ‘The emancipated imagination and Victorian Cosmopolis: stylistic eclecticism in Addison’s New Exhibition Building (1891),’ Imagining, Proceedings of the 27th International SAHANZ Conference, Michael Chapman & Michael Ostwald (eds.), The University of Newcastle, 30 June-2 July, 2010, 451-456.

    Andrew Leach and Deborah van der Plaat, “Towards a nineteenth century architectural history of Australia and New Zealand: A post-national, post-colonial perspective,” in Jorge Correia ed., 1st International Meeting of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN 2010), Guimaraes, Portugal, 17-20 June 2010.

    Deborah van der Plaat, “The Emancipated imagination and disciplinary re-unification in nineteenth-century writings on art, architecture and science,” in Architecture, Disciplinarity and the Arts, eds. Andrew Leach & John Macarthur (Ghent: A&S Books, 2009), 61-74.

    Deborah van der Plaat, “‘Architectural ignorance and public indifference:’ Harold Desbrowe-Annear’s Lecture on ‘Some Methods of Architectural Criticism,’” Fabrications, The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand, 19:1 (2009): 163-175.


    Symposia convened by Deborah van der Plaat, Architecture at the Ragged Edge of Empire: Race, Taste and Place and the Colonial Context, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, 27-28 June, 2013.


    Architectural eclecticism in the nineteenth-century writings of John Ruskin and Alexander von Humboldt, University of Queensland Early Career Researchers Grant, 2010- 2011 ($25,000)

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