The period under consideration saw the growth and fruition of a
radical approach to architectural design in the Government
Architect's Branch of the New South Wales Public Works Department.
High aesthetic standards were set: the application of these
standards in an atmosphere of enthusiastic dedication produced a
new, vital architectural expression for the public buildings of
New South Wales.
The quality of the Government Architect's work brought the Branch
to the forefront of the architectural profession, whence it exerted
a beneficial influence on many private practitioners.
E.H. Farmer, the Government Architect of the period, gained the high
respect of his peers and in 1972 he was awarded the R.A.I.A.'s Gold
Medal - the highest honour which can be bestowed on a member.
The early chapters of this study describe, in broad chronological
order, the developments which took place in the Government Architect's
Branch. Mention is also made of the influence which many leading
architects, as well as other professionals, had on the Branch's
In later chapters the buildings designed by the Branch are classified
into broad use-types and each type is then examined in chronological
order. While this method of analysis necessitates some back-tracking
and repetition, it provides a better understanding of the evolution
of the various building types than would be provided by a broader
The appendices include a chronological list of significant events,
in precis form, for convenient reference.
Apart from a few short papers on specialised subjects, there has been
no comprehensive documentation of the history of the Government
Architect's Branch during the period being examined. Consequently
the story of the Branch's development has been pieced together from
interviews with many people who were members of the Government
Architect's Branch during this period. Some accounts of events have
appeared conflicting. It is natural that individual comment may be
unintentionally biased. Every effort has been made by the author
to present an accurate and balanced assessment.
E.H. Farmer delivered the Hook Memorial Address on 11th May, 1973.
In the course of this address the beliefs which contributed to his
leadership of the Branch were succinctly revealed:
"...if the voioe of the architect goes unheeded, humanity is
that much closer to the abyss."