Thursday, June 12, 2014

Empress Towers - 1960s Hobart living

 Hobart has several tower blocks, with a good handful of them being residential complexes.  Whilst other Tasmanian cities and towns like Launcston and Burnie have their share of Modernist flats, it's in Hobart where you will find examples of tall tower blocks above above 3 levels.  The tallest building in Hobart is the Wrest Point casino but there are several commercial and residential blocks that hover around 10-12 levels, small in comparison to the mainland, but nonetheless highlight a Tasmanian story in the mid 20th Century.

Empress Towers (pictured) is located in Battery Point, and if you look into the history there were plans for a string of tower blocks dotted around the suburb that never eventuated.  At the other end of Battery Point where the suburb of Sandy Bay begins there are a few tower blocks dotted along the foreshore. These tower blocks give a visual history as to a plan that was never fully realised.

Contray to popular belief Battery Point has a wide mix of housing. Take a walk around and there is an amazing mix of 1800s, Federation, Art Deco and Post War architecture to be seen, an evolution of a suburb.  Empress Towers and other highrise blocks like it I find liberating in the sense that they open the opportunity for many to afford views of the vistas overlooking the river derwent or perhaps Mt Wellington to many people.  I always enjoy viewing Empress Towers as it ignites past ideas of housing, but has importance today with issues surrounding urban sprawl and the need for housing and being close to services.

View more residential homes in my new website by clicking here


  1. Why were the other plans not fulfilled, do you think? Too expensive for ordinary families?

    1. Interesting question, I believe it coinceided with the heritage movement and the "preservation" of the area. Whilst I acknowledge the rise of protecting buildings I can also see a downside in that development since the post war period has been lacking in an area (housing) where its very much needed.


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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