W. M. Dudok and Hilversum: Architect and Municipal Planner; Dissemination of this Interconnection amongst Australian Architects, 1925-1955

Hardwick, Carol

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

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The architecture/town planning of the Dutch modernist Willem Marinus Dudok (1884-1974) is a significant example of the crossover between municipal planning and architecture. Dudok’s buildings, particularly those at Hilversum, are widely acknowledged and recognisable as design sources drawn upon by Australian modernists in the period 1925 to 1955. He planned Hilversum as a garden city in 1918 and it was visited by many Australian architects during this study period.

Dudok initially trained as an engineer. His career, combining architecture and town planning, presented the ideal modernist project in practice. Hilversum was one of the key locations in Europe after World War I, where modern town planning and architecture worked in unity.

Architecture, although often collaborative within a practice, could also be individualistic and Dudok’s practice in many ways exemplified this approach. Town planning required the coordination of professionals. At Hilversum, Dudok achieved this unity, with his well-planned municipal areas and modern buildings successfully integrated into them. This was within the context of contemporary Dutch town planning and housing laws, post World War I.

This paper presents Dudok’s work, emphasising the crossover and integration of architecture and town planning. It examines the significance or not, of this crossover between these disciplines in the dissemination of his work by Australian architects and examines specifically whether Dudok’s town planning practices were part of the dissemination of his work. It concludes that for those Australian architects who experienced Hilversum first-hand, Dudok’s buildings were perceived as integrated into the town plan, particularly their context and the essentialness of the landscaping.

Furthermore, Dudok had a commitment to the social wellbeing of the community through his planning with schools as focal points. Newcastle Technical College, New South Wales, is an exemplar of this in Australia.