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Inter-War Free Classical C. 1915—C. 1940

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  Herald Building 037 Former Nock and Kirby's 004 Capitol Theatre 
Throughout the Victorian and Federation periods, Academic Classical and Free Classical styles coexisted, which is to say that some buildings were more correctly classical than others. It is hardly surprising to find that a similar state of affairs prevailed during the Inter-War period.
Eight Inter-War styles (including this one) have a basis in classical architecture. A negative definition of Inter-War Free Classical could be ‘anything that is derived from some kind of classical architecture but does not fit into any of the other seven categories’.
After the trauma of World War I, academic classicism may have been identified by some of the younger generation with the ancien régime which brought about the war; to others it may have simply seemed irrelevant. At any rate, the growing emphasis on technology and functionalism created a climate that was not especially conducive to scholarly understanding of the classical orders.
The City Hall in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond shows one aspect of the Inter-War Free Classical style. Traditionally educated architectural scholars, after an initial indignant reaction to the building’s ‘crude’ and ‘outrageous’ flouting of classical precedents, must have shaken their heads in disbelief. But it should be noted that the building’s designers courageously invented a new ‘order’ for their giant portico and that they endeavoured to weave Art Deco decorative themes into a basically classical composition. Working in a rather more sophisticated vein designing residences in upper-class Toorak, Harold Desbrowe Annear suavely and freely manipulated classical elements such as the pediment, the portico and the Palladian motif to create appropriate but not hackneyed images for his well-to-do clients.

City Hall, Bridge Road, Richmond, Vic. Remodelled 1934—36; Harry R. Johnson, architect. A simplfied reinterpretation of the classical mode.
Atlas Building, The Esplanade, Perth, WA. Architect and date unknown. Another palazzo façade, freely translated in reconstructed stone.
St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church, Arden Street, Clovelly, NSW Austin McKay, architect, 1926—27. A muscular combination of free classical and Romanesque motifs.
  Quoted from:
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.