Thoroughly Modern: The Life and Times of Moir & Sutherland Architects by Peter Freeman
Publisher: Uro Publications 2021, Author: Peter Freeman, Designer: Hannah Gamble, ISBN: 9780648685883, Format: Hardcover, 245mm(H)x290mm(W), 320pp
For a brief period between the end of the Depression and the beginning of WWII, Canberra, one of the twentieth century’s handful of new, planned cities, looked set to be defined by the distinctive precepts and forms of ‘Functionalism’. It represented a clear break with the architectural conventions of the past, and Malcolm Moir and his partner in life and practice Heather Sutherland were at the forefront of this push as designers of a singularly coherent collection of residential and commercial buildings, spread throughout the fledgling city.
Peter Freeman’s richly illustrated narrative of Thoroughly Modern traces the evolution of Moir and Sutherland’s Architecture, some of the earliest examples of modernism built in Australia, and the subsequent achievements of Ian Slater and Neville Ward, Malcolm’s architect partners following Heather’s tragic death in 1953.
This remarkable history examines the national and international contacts and influences that shaped and informed Moir and Sutherland’s work and brings together remarkable primary source material, including exquisitely rendered water colour sketches, architectural drawings, period photography and correspondence. Freeman chronicles the thrilling but at times deeply challenging beginnings of Canberra and modernist architecture in Australia.
The importance of Moir and Sutherland is attested by Marion Mahony Griffin who made a brief return to Canberra following the death of her husband Walter Burley Griffin in 1937. The city was beginning to develop from the plans the Griffins had designed for it two-and-a-half decades earlier, but there were only two buildings in particular she found noteworthy: the Civic Theatre (since demolished) and a small and house and studio at 42 Melbourne Avenue. Both were designed by early modernist architect Malcom Moir.