Winthrop Hall Clock Tower, The University of Western Australia


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Winthrop Hall Clock Tower, The University of Western Australia


architect, architecture, bell tower, benefactor, bequest, campanile, clock tower, Conrad Sayce, Crawley, Hackett Hall, Italian influence, Mediterranean style, “Renaissance” style, Rodney Alsop, Romanesque style, Sir John Winthrop Hackett (1848-1916), The University of Western Australia, tower, university buildings, Western Australia, Winthrop Hall


A view of Winthrop Hall and the clock tower at the University of Western Australia. They are built in an Italian or Mediterranean Romanesque style, typified by rounded arches, arcading, thick walls (they are 9ft thick) and the large square campanile tower. When asked about the style of the design, the architect described it variously as “Renaissance”, and as being of Italian ancestry, but notably “anglicised and adapted to the local conditions” (See Western Mail, 21 April 1932, pp.14: There was at first, as historian Fred Alexander noted, some concern over “the wisdom of preferring a boldly Mediterranean or Spanish type of architecture to the more familiar neo-gothic style generally favoured by academic authorities”, but these concerns faded as the buildings began to take shape and by the time Winthrop Hall was officially opened on 13 April 1932, it was highly praised as a fitting commemoration to its founder (See Fred Alexander, Campus at Crawley: A Narrative and Critical Appreciation of the First Fifty Years of The University of Western Australia, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1963, p.136).

Winthrop Hall was designed by Melbourne architects Rodney Alsop and Conrad Sayce, whose joint entry won an architectural competition held by the University Senate in 1927. The impetus for the competition was a large bequest left by the University’s first Chancellor, Sir John Winthrop Hackett, who had died in 1916. Alsop, the senior of the pair, was employed as the lead architect and they began the project of building Winthrop Hall and the Hackett Buildings together. However, they fell out in the process and Sayce left before the buildings were completed. One of the points on which they disagreed was Alsop’s replacement of the clock tower in the original design with the Italian Campanile style tower that stands today (See R. J. Ferguson, Crawley Campus: The Planning and Architecture of The University of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 1993).


McEwan, Joanne


3 February 2011


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