Art & environment: John Dalton and the pursuit of a modern architecture for Queensland
AuthorMusgrave, Elizabeth Anne
AffiliationArchitecture, Building and Planning
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Elizabeth Anne Musgrave
John Dalton (1927-2007), Queensland architect and advocate for architecture, art and design, was committed to a range of practice, writing and teaching activities that placed him critically within the architecture community of Brisbane from 1956 until 1979. After closing his Queen Street practice, John Dalton Architect & Associates in 1979, and “retiring” from his high profile career to Allora, a rural town on the Darling Downs, he maintained a quiet practice, completing his last commission in 1987. During his lifetime, work from Dalton’s architectural practice was exhibited internationally, published nationally and internationally and recognized with awards at the state and national level. Despite this recognition, a thorough examination of his work and its significance to Queensland architecture has not been undertaken. Drawing on archives previously not examined, this thesis offers the first authoritative analysis of his built works and designs, and places these works in the context of Dalton’s life, art practice, writing and intellectual milieu. In existing historical accounts, John Dalton’s contribution is limited largely to the development of the climate responsive mid-century modern house in Queensland. This thesis argues that Dalton’s contribution is more nuanced than this. His architecture incorporates a range of different influences, is of a national as well as a local order of significance, and extends to the development of a way of thinking about and working with site, climate and material fabric that, despite a limited palette of elements, was concerned with issues of living, and was spatially and formally choreographed to its environment. Through his writing, activism and built works of architecture, Dalton provided the groundwork for the development of an identifiable regional culture of architecture. He was among the first to promote that architecture to a national audience. This thesis frames Dalton’s work through themes of art, science and the environment. It is supported by a chronologically organised list of architectural work. It demonstrates the relationship between an architect and his setting in the formation of a position on architecture and the capacity of one architect to affect that setting.
Keywordsmid-century modernism; Queensland architecture; regionalism; environmental turn
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