Hackett Buildings. The Architect’s Description.

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Hackett Buildings. The Architect’s Description.


architecture, architect, gothic architecture, gothic revival, neo-gothic, Arts and Administration Building, cloisters, commemoration, coogee stone, Court of Honour, dais, George Benson, Great Gate, great hall, Hackett Hall, jarrah flooring, library, marble flooring, monument, Mervyn Napier Wallace, Rodney Alsop, Romanesque style, rose window, Sir John Winthrop Hackett (1848-1916), The University of Western Australia, vaulted ceilings, Winthrop Hall


This article provides a description of Winthrop Hall and the Hackett Buildings at the University of Western Australia by the architect, Rodney Alsop, shortly after they were opened in 1932. Alsop describes the guidelines he was set, namely that there was to be a multi-functional hall capable of seating a large number of people, two other buildings that would house lecture rooms, offices, the University administration, the Guild and a refectory, and that the buildings were to be monumental in order to adequately commemorate their founder, Sir John Winthrop Hackett (1848-1916). Alsop explains his rationale for the lay out of the buildings along three sides of the Court of Honour, (with the fourth side open to what was then known as the Perth-Fremantle road) and the addition of ‘cloisters’ along the front of the Hackett Hall and the Arts and Administration Building as an attempt to unify the different buildings. He refers to Winthrop Hall repeatedly as a ‘great hall’ and describes its shape as rectangular with transepts at the ends of the dais “after the tradition of the halls of England”. He also describes some of its main features, including the rose window and elaborately patterned ceiling in the hall, and the vaulted ceiling, marble floor and colourful mosaics in the foyer.

The architecture is influenced by the Romanesque style of the medieval period, which is suggested by the semi-circular arches, stone columns, arcading, thick walls and large square tower. However, the architect stops short of saying this definitively. On the style from which the architectural design for the buildings was developed, Alsop initially states that “it arose as the natural outcome of the planning, combined with the study of the architecture of older countries, with climate and other conditions not unlike those in Western Australia”. Later in the article, he elaborates slightly: “While the ancestry of the style used is undoubtedly Italian, it has been anglicised and adapted to the local conditions, and cannot be called Italian, Spanish, or any other foreign style. It is my conception of architecture suitable for the University of Western Australia.”




National Library of Australia


The Western Mail


21 April 1932, pp.13-14.


The Western Mail


Newspaper Article



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Newspaper Article taken from The Western Mail: