Monday, February 20, 2012

Response to "Henty House Heritage Battle"

Henty House is a rare example of Brutalist architecture in Launceston, and the battle for it to be heritage listed is being taken to the State planning tribunal.  See the newspaper story here

My response to the the newspaper story:
"Mayor Albert van Zetten shouldn't  bandy about his personal opinions about Henty House when  he says "I find it difficult to understand how Henty House adds to the heritage of our beautiful city" (Examiner 20th February)  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and buildings that are heritage listed are assessed on a wide range or criteria. I am intrigued to know how Mayor van Zetten would assess "beauty". Henty House and the Civic Square precinct form part of a rich social history that contribute greatly to the city of Launceston.  Henty House stands as a rare example of Brutalist architecture in Tasmania that when built centralised public services that were once spread all over the city  There are wonderful period sculptures and other Modernist buildings that make the precinct a delight and in-tact example of 20th Century Modernism.  Sorry Mayor, but our heritage is more than just what one deems as "beautiful" If we are to have an informed debate then such simplistic value laden comments shouldn't be bandied about"

I recently wrote a feature story and provided my photographs for a story on the history of Henty House and the Civic Square precinct that if forms for the new national publication "Australian Modern"  Check it out here   A photographic essay on Henty House I have done can be viewed here: 


  1. I think in Tassie we're a bit addicted to the idea that unless it's sandstone or Federation-era, it's not really "heritage". I have to admit, I have no love for Henty House's exterior - but as you say, its heritage value is also about its social context. When you look at Civic Square as a whole (inc. the police HQ, library, court & the back of town hall), it's quite a neat & varied modernism-themed outdoor display.

    And while I'll never love the look of HH, the city just wouldn't be the same without its distinctiveness.

  2. I agree that HH is a great example of brutalist and should be listed. Most people think I'm crazy when I say I love the building not cause of the concrete because it's a great example of it's time.
    Many buildings now have little architectural merit and that saddens me greatly, I was particularly disgusted at the Office Works building in the city and many others.
    Glad you are active and wrote that article, keep us in the loop about progress.

  3. Preserving architectural heritage is important because it represents us, as a community. This is where we came from, this is what we went through, these are the values we held, this is what made us unique, that is what made us part of an international movement.

    Otherwise let us destroy our history by pulling down every building that was erected before, say, 2000. Put the relics in a museum and bus school children in to see what their history once was.


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 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 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

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