Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Royal Derwent Hospital Administration Building
The Royal Derwent Hospital complex is an important site socially, historically and architecturally. Situated within the picturesque town of New Norfolk in Southern Tasmania, the former hospital can lay claim to being Australia’s oldest mental asylum, operating for 173 years from 1827 until its closure in 2000 when patients were then integrated into the community and out of institutionalised State care.
During the 1940s the complex underwent an expansion with a series of functionalist and Art Deco buildings erected. The Administration Building (pictured) is designed in the Art Deco style which is readily apparent in its external staircases, metal work zigzag patterns, and main door timber detailing. An interesting and entertaining addition to the Administration Building was an Art Deco theater that would have put on a variety of social functions back in its hey-day.
Since the complex closure in 2000 the Administration Building, like so many of the other heritage buildings on-site have been vandalised and remain in a vulnerable state. Earlier this year vandals lit a fire in the basement of the Administration Building, but the fire was luckily contained. It could have been worse if the adjacent buildings were set ablaze as they are built mainly of timber, unlike the Administration building which is built in brick.
The Administation building was on the market for $350,000 last year. A new buyer has recently purchased (April/May 09) the Administration Building and since then security fencing has been erected around the building, but its future use remains uncertain.
A wonderful Art Deco Building that is desereved of preservation itself. The complex as a whole is older than Port Arthur, and is deserved of preservation and adaptive reuse. The National Trust lists the Willow Court complex in the "top 10 heritage at risk" in Australia.
To view a detailed photographic essay on the former Royal Derwent Hospital and Willow Court Precinct click here
About the project
Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website www.tryanphotos.com under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.
My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website www.tryanphotos.com and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires