Andrew McCutcheon, Evan Walker and David Yencken: Tracing Cross-Disciplinary Understandings in Architecture in 1970s Melbourne

Telford, Elsie | Kidd, Akari Nakai | de Jong, Ursula

Ngā Pūtahitanga / Crossings: A Joint Conference of SAHANZ and the Australasian UHPH Group

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The 1970s in Melbourne was a period of political, social and cultural flux. In the midst of this period of change, three figures loom large: Andrew McCutcheon (1931-2017), Evan Walker (1935-2015) and David Yencken (1931-2019). Each had strong allegiances to architecture, as well as commitments to politics and diverse social causes, including heritage, planning and religion. This paper argues that these three are representative of how a cross-disciplinary understanding of architecture can nurture community values and embed these within the built fabric through heritage.

The paper draws on McCutcheon’s, Walker’s and Yencken’s own recollections of this time and uses their memories and reflections to develop a narrative-based understanding of social concerns to broaden architectural conceptions. It examines overlaps between the figures themselves, their work and connection to design, politics and society, mapping the confluences of understandings and outcomes that emerged from the intersections of this knowledge.

The research highlights the importance of reading architecture as a discipline connected to, and crossing, both time and place. The fundamental raison d’etre of architecture was explored and questioned by each of the three protagonists – architecture is not simply designing bespoke buildings, but rather contributing to society (through better housing, protecting heritage, urban design), responding to this place (country, landscape and climate), understanding who we are (identity) and thus influencing policy and legislation. The paper teases out how new understandings and narratives of community values emerged through their cross-disciplinary interests and works.