Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Henty House Photographic Essay
Henty House Government Offices in Launceston was opened in 1983. Newspaper reports and photographs discussing the building show quite a different design to what stands today. Separate to the Government Office block was to be a complex built to accommodate workers. This plan never eventuated, but the Brutalist design did, and stands today as one of Launceston's, if not Tasmania's best examples of this style of architecture.
It's off form concrete textures and jutting bulky right angle shapes are visually stunning to both look at and photograph. The building never fails to impress with endless possibilities of capturing the shapes, patterns, and light changes of the building.
In the future this building (if it stands the test of time of the wrecking ball) will be given the heritage recognition it deserves and be listed. It would be a great shame to lose this landmark building, and looking at the diverse range of comments in the local newspaper about the building, it divides opinion, but at least it gets people thinking about their urban spaces and buildings.
Speaking of urban spaces, Henty House was built around the same time as the area surrounding it was closed off to traffic and paved, and renamed Civic Square - a communal gathering place for the people. Many features added including a water feature, sculptures and communal spaces. They are used to this day, with the area being the main meeting point for speakers and public rallies. It is an important part of Modernist design, and continues to serve its purpose it was served to do today. These spaces are in essence an extension of Henty House and the many other Modernist buildings that make up the precinct, that include the Police Headquarters, Magistrates Court and Public Library.
The nostalgia for the past is at a point whereby it hinders and ignores the positive contributions that Modernist design has given to Launceston and Tasmania. Sadly there are many designs in Launceston post 1980s that have attempted to mimic past styles and 'fit in' with surroundings. Or worse buildings are demolished in order to make way for pastiche styles that are culturally nothing and aesthetically boring.
There is no better example of hasty demolition 0f an important period building than at the former Centerlink Office building, adjacent to Henty House. An rare example of Spanish Mission style Art Deco was demolished to make way for a pastiche Victorian complex.
Henty House definitely makes a statement and is an important building of both architectural and historical significance and must be be given the protection it deserves.
Henty House features as part of my exhibition, Tasmanian Modern: The Forgotten Architecture that runs throughout the month of May. For more information about the exhibition 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