About Thomas Ryan Photography

This major photographic project documents 20th Century Modernism throughout Tasmania. Join me, Thomas Ryan, on a photographic journey as I document Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism through the camera lens. Art Deco, Inter-war, Post War, Brutalism,are just some of the styles I document in this fascinating period in Tasmania's built history.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please visit my website, Thomas Ryan Photography. You can also contact me via social media on facebook and g+ All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan. All rights reserved, unauthorised use is prohibited.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Launceston Art Deco Pumping Station


This pumping station in Launceston is a little gem featuring deco style detailing, that is most notable on the main facade (pictured). It was designed by Council Architect, C.L Clennett in 1940. I enjoy it because it rates as one of those hidden and small examples of modernist design that are equivalent to finding a little pot of gold!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cimitiere House - Tasmania's first 'Five-Star Building'


The Cimitiere House complex in Launceston was recently completed in 2009 at a cost of $AU10 million, and offers 5 stories (4600m2) of commercial office space. The foundation base took 18 continueos hours of concrete pouring to achieve the desierd foundation thickness.

The building hoses many visual clues relating to its eco credentials, including a small windmill at the rear of the building, water tanks, and large concrete walls that absorb the suns heat and warm the interior spaces naturally. There are also movable timber blinds on the east/north side of the building, and large amounts of glass used to make the most of natural light.

Inside, the space is visually exciting and has been named 'The Atrium'. This ground floor entrance and space hosts a modern and roomy cafe space, but ones eyes are constantly divered upwards to the office spaces above. The ceiling is transparen, allowing natural light and warmth to enter the building.

Prior to Cimitiere House, the site used to be a Auction house. I followed the project from demolition to completetion. A selection of my photographs of this project can be seen by clicking here

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Storm & the Home


The presence of Mt Wellington is everywhere in Hobart. The mountain that surrounds Hobart town creates its own unique weather patters, which are evident here with the moody storm clouds brewing, against the white of the home and the vibrant flower garden.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Modern Classic by the Sea

This home in Devonport is a stunning example of modernist design and has many interesting features. Of note are the etched glass doors and windows, and the symmetrical "cube" design of the ground and first floor.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Salvation Army - Burnie

Burnie is a fascinating place to explore if you are after Modernist design. There is even a self guided Art Deco Tour, complete with mp3 audio download. Although the cities Art Deco heritage is prominent, a walk around the streets reveals that many buildings have been erected in the Bruatlist style, including the dominant Reece House, Post Office and Fire Station and the Salvation Army (pictured) to name but a few. The Salvation Army Building is a fine example of symmetry and curve. One day, if buildings such as these pictured stand the test time and/or demolition, they too may gain their rightful place in demonstrating our important modernist architectural heritage.



Friday, January 22, 2010

School of Domestic Arts - Burnie



This neglected 1930/40s building now sits surrounded by nothing but dirt after fire destroyed the Burnie High School. The site resembles a lunar landscape. A new Information Centre has just been erected on the former High School site. The bare red soil and the massive Information Centre make me think of what settlement on Mars could be like! Even the Bowls Club behind the School of Domestic Arts Building has been demolished, although a few support trusses of the bowls building remain, and traces of what was once the bowling green. It will be interesting to see what happens to this sturdy building, because at the moment it is prey to vandalism and evident graffiti attacks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Burnie Apartment Block


These 20th century apartment blocks just outside of the Burnie CBD grabbed my attention. I really like the colour mix of red and green. High-rise developments for housing is not the most common thread in Tasmania. A dual highway runs in front of the complex and the new plantings of salt loving plants (the flats overlook the beach) for me demonstrate modernity; that is multiple dual lane roads, minimalist planting style and functional living.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hagley Uniting Church

When taking a look around Tasmania there are so many modernist churches, especially from the 1950s/60s period. The Hagley Uniting Church was built in 1957, and features many typical design features, including geometric angles and use of coloured glass. The toilet to the rear is totally functional in design.





Monday, January 18, 2010

Henty House - Revisited


This is another photographic take on Henty House. The changes in light create endless opportunities to capture the boldness of this icon. The landmark Henty House was built in the early 1980s and is one of Launceston's best examples of Brutalist design.
To see my photo essay on Henty House click here.

Royal Derwent Hospital - "Save whole hospital"

My letter to the editor that appeared in The Mercury Newspaper, Monday 18th January.

"Couldn't the Derwent Valley Council get access to federal funding to redevelop the former Royal Derwent Valley oval and surrounding buildings into a viable tourist attraction that would create extra local employment? While it is positive news that the Council are planning to convert the Barracks Building, designed in 1828, it should be remembered that the former Hospital has a social and architectural history that spans two centuries. The former Royal Derwent Hospital may have well have been the oldest running mental institution in Australia, but redeveloping only the oldest sections of the complex for tourism denies more than 200 years of changing attitudes to mental health care and denies the modernist buildings on site their rightful place in creating a complete picture of the sites architectural heritage"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

North Lodge Hotel



North Lodge Hotel in Launceston was built in the 1970s and reminds me of US films of back lane motels. It has been designed so the frontage faces on a slight angle (possibly to receive more sunlight) and is a large complex that carries on up the steep hill.

Recently some of the cream colour bricks at the front and sides of the building were painted a bright orange. There is an open viewing platform on the top floor that allows great views over the city.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hobart - Sandy Bay Units



These units from the post war period catch my eye. It always reminds me of the shape of a cruise ship ready to head off into the Derwent River. It's a rather unique design in that by placing the building on this angle instead of front on to the river, it would gain the benefits of maximum sunlight.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Greens Beach – 1950's Style



A trip to the seaside in Tasmania often yields a treasure trove of period 1950/60s homes and commercial buildings. Some homes, locally referred to as “shacks” are small but comfortable, whilst others are the size of an average suburban house, often housing their own garage and many interesting exterior and interior post war design features.



One of the prerequisites for the beach house or shack has to be a flat pitch angled roof. They outnumber the traditional pitched roof, to the point that spotting a pitched roof makes them look like the odd ones out. What interests me is that although towns and cities have their share of 1950s flat roof design and post war features I get the feeling that they are snubbed at as being either out of fashion. That is they are neither old enough to have a nostalgia or new enough to be cutting-edge trendy. On the other hand it it seems 1950s homes on the beach have more of an acceptance.

Beach side towns like Greens Beach are a hidden sanctuary for post war homes to exist in harmony and their owners seem equally as proud, as a wander around the streets visually demonstrates the multitude of exterior features that remain. Flat pitched angles roofs so as the rain can drain, simple geometric verandah fencing, and one of my favourites has got to be the timber frame square and rectangular windows that exude symmetrical style and perfection. Many new homes that have been built here in part reflect and pay homage to the 1950s design style with features such as their angled roofs.

Perhaps it will only be a matter of time before post war homes are more positively accepted in our cities as important links to our past, giving an important insight into our social and architectural history.

Click here to see more photographs I have done on 1950/60s Beach House Architecture

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Beaconsfield Lone Shop


This former building that looks as if it was once used as a shop caught my eye, standing all by its lonesome. Classic small scale post war design!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Queen Victoria (QV) Maternity Hospital


The former QV Hospital in Launceston is a massive tower block and like many hospitals, additions have been added over the years. It was operational until its closure in 1993 when operations were moved to the Launceston General Hospital. The cream coloured building was designed in the 1930s, whilst the red brick tower in 1963. It's amazing to think that the red tower block only got 30 years of intended useage as a hospital. There is another large high-rise complex at the rear of the property that used to be Nurses Accommodation.

Most recently it was used as student accommodation for the University of Tasmania. The QV Tower block now houses a variety of different businesses. There are many notable 1960s features including the aluminum overhangs, small tile decorations and 2 massive sraircases at either end of the building. Much of the original period font writing still remains.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Esset House - Launceston

Aluminum and glass are sure signs of post war modernism at work. I came across with building whilst I was photographing another building. I really like how much architecture from the 1950s and 1960s were named "house", and if lucky some buildings even have plaques saying who opened the building and when. I enjoy the geometric lines at play here with the aluminum panes and entrance staircase.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Industrial Seaport Buildings Bite the Dust



As cities and towns develop and change, so too does its architecture. The former woolsheds (pictured) in Launceston form part of a larger complex that was the old industrial trading port in Launceston. They are a fabulous design with their functional tin walls and saw-tooth roofing. A walk around the area feels more like an industrial wasteland. The local council has been purchasing properties over the past few years in order to create a flood levy barricade to stop a once in a hundred year flooding.

Many buildings have already been demolished, and the woolsheds built on a grand scale have demolition notices stuck on them, so their future remains uncertain. Even if the demolition notices are for other buildings, the woolsheds are not being used and have high grass growing around them. I have been informed that the modernist designed school near the woolsheds will be demolished this year as part of the flood levy project.

A walk onto the riverfront is more like a trap into rusting machinery and an overgrown blackberry den. Glimpses of old cruise boats can be seen amongst the mess, with seagulls making the large derelict cruisers their home.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Art Deco Offices - Hobart



This Art Deco building on the corner of Davey & Murray Street was erected in 1937. The building forms part of what is referred to as 'Parliament Square'. Many of the buildings are being sold off, whilst other Modernist gems such as 10 Murray Street (viewable in the photograph in the background to the left) are planned to be demolished.

Plans show that the Art Deco office block had top level floors added in the latter part of the 20th Century and these are set to be removed as part of the development. Note the interesting door entrance details and the sweeping curve at the corner of the building, as well as steal frame windows.

To view more photographs of Art Deco Buildings in Tasmania click here

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Willow Court Administration Building Restoration

Administration Building prior to restoration


Restoration under way (note the new windows)






Some positive development news at Willow Court is that the former Art Deco Administration Building (1940) has recently been purchased and upon a visit the progress and transition made so far is a very positive one. Prior to being bought, the building was in a bad state, suffering from vandalism and most recently a fire that was deliberately lit in the basement. Practically every window was smashed or boarded. As can be seen from the before and after photos of the Administration Building (below) it's amazing what a set of new windows can do.

The building has many wonderful period features including the main entrance door, doors, windows, staircases as well as a period Art Deco live theater room. To view a photo essay on the modernist buildings of Willow Court and others click here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Historic Art Deco Buildings for sale at Willow Court

The front facade of Ward E, which is one of the buildings for sale by the local council

Several Art Deco Buildings as well as the oval grounds at the former Royal Derwent Hospital in New Norfolk are being put up for public tender by the local council. The Art Deco Buildings were built in the 1930s/early 1940s and form part of the former mental asylum complex which was Australia's oldest, operating from 1828 until it's closure in 2000. Since closing down some land has been sold to private developers. The Western side is under demolition and the historic Ward 7 and "Ha-Ha" yard have been demolished. The complex has around 60 buildings with some having been demolished, some waiting to be, whilst other buildings remain in an uncertain state due to vandalism and decay. The Oval Precinct Blocks have heritage regulations attached to them and are in a poor state.


Interesting concrete rear staircases of Ward E

An ariel view showing the wards and oval that are for tender

View Larger Map

Click here to see an ariel view of the entire Royal Derwent complex. To the extreme left of frame is Willow Court, and the buildings to the right are the Western buildings all built in the 1950s/60s and due for demolition.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Former Devonport Hospital


The former Devonport Hospital is a fascinating Modernist design. I was there at the wrong time of the day to get a good photograph of the front facade. It sweeps in a U shape and there are balconies on each of the 3 stories. From what I have read, the complex was planned to be converted into apartments as early as 2004. As one drives past there are high security gates erected and the bulk of the building stands in a vandalized state. A very interesting building that would make a great conversion. Watch this space, as I'll try and post some images of the front facade.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In Search of the "little"Art Deco


There are those Modernist Buildings that are large, bold and get all the attention. Then there are those such as this commercial building that are almost hidden from view. I love finding these smaller buildings as they are often out of view and when found its like finding a little pot of gold!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Launceston Deco Fence Detailing


This set of large residential units in Launceston follows the art deco styling throughout, including the detailing of the fencing. The building itself, railings and triple bay garage all exude period detailing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Former Hydro Building


The former Hydro Electric Commission Building (late 1930s) now Hobart City Council, is located in the CBD of Hobart and is a strikingly bold example of the Art Deco style. If Holyman House is Launceston's Art Deco gem, then this would have to be Hobart's. It's central spire still lights up a neon yellow most nights, and the top floors were originally apartment blocks.