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electro-beautility

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Emma Favretto
University of Sydney Sydney Australia
Between 1904 and 1935, under the direction of the Municipal Council of Sydney, hundreds of electrical distribution substations were constructed throughout Sydney suburbs.

These disregarded and often derelict structures are a striking illustration of Sydney’s industrial and residential evolution and growth. The substations illustrate an intriguing point in time in Australian architectural history - the establishment of the Australian City Beautiful Movement and the transition into the Modernist period.

I have always been intrigued by the humble electrical structures scattered throughout the inner Sydney suburbs. Indeed, I have often dreamt of the possibility of procuring one in order to give it a new lease of life. Yet through my research, I was surprised to find that the documentation of these utilitarian temples is virtually non-existent. Whilst the libraries of architects are filled with books illustrating the great architectural and engineering marvels of the world, architectural texts dedicated to small scale utility buildings, particularly substation buildings, are truly scarce. The lack of research on these microcosms of the marriage of taste and utility illuminates a ‘gap’ in architectural knowledge, which I hoped to contribute to rectifying through a documentation and celebration of these utility buildings.

This report therefore attempts to uncover the history of these distribution substations, providing an analysis of their function and civic contributions, contextual relationships and architectural styles. In addition, the photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher is used as a precedent for the photographic studies I undertook to catalogue the substations and their antiquities.

Emma Favretto

Tutor(s)
Dr Glen Hill
Sir Colin Stansfield-Smith
2011
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