Essays in Antipodean Identity


Awarded the Adele Mellen Prize for Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship
In the years since the completion of Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House countries throughout the South Pacific have displayed a particular fascination with the possibility that architecture may be able to embody regional cultural identity. This book examines a number of major museums, art galleries and cultural centers that have been constructed in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific regions. The majority of these buildings, landscapes or structures have been completed in the last few years and all have employed different architectural strategies to shape their designs. This collection of nine critical essays by leading scholars of contemporary architecture provides an important survey and assessment of Antipodean cultural architecture. Emphasizing common traits, the introduction to the text asks how this phenomenon might be understood and why it may be relevant in different regions around the world. Acknowledging the pluralistic nature of Antipodean architecture, the conclusion offers an alternative hermeneutical framework, one that accepts the fragmentary nature of the contemporary cultural landscape.


“There is, in fact, a hint of mild amusement amongst the architects of the Antipodes that the world has discovered that their other [hemisphere] is so interesting. There is a reassurance that maybe the real truth is being ‘dug with the other foot’. Irish poet Seamus Heaney speaks of his writing as “digging with the pen” and the essays that follow are turning over the sods of the cultural soil of Antipodean architecture in a way that may reveal new comprehensions, comprehensions beyond the scale of the domestic.” - Professor Lindsay Johnston, Head of the School of Architecture and Planning, The University of Auckland

“The depth and breadth of the authors’ writings reflects the multi-valence of a region that defies generalization. Through their attention to buildings and their attendant theoretical concerns, each author opens our eyes to another facet of this vast region of the world, revealing more of its rich cultural and intellectual heritage as the volume unfolds.” – Dr. Mark A. Reynolds, Instructor in Geometry, Academy of Art University

“This book, edited by Michael J. Ostwald and Steven Fleming, is a much-needed and engaging collection of essays from a group of pre-eminent Australasian architectural writers and thinkers ... The volume deals with museums, cultural centers, gardens, art galleries and public space and as such it is likely to be of interest to not only architects, urban designers and architectural teachers and students but also to art historians, cultural theorists and those engaged in museum practice.” - Dr. Sarah Treadwell, Deputy Head of School, University of Auckland