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Austral Eden: 200 Years of Australian Architecture

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Patrick Bingham-Hall. The Watermark Press, 1999. 256pp. £22.50. (Distributed by Windsor Books International 01865 361122)

The anodyne sunset over Sydney Harbour image on the cover of this book gives no idea of the interest within. In some 200 finely reproduced photographs, Patrick Bingham-Hall offers a revealing overview of Australian architecture. He ranges from the country's 'first great building' in 1819 - Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks (for convicts) - to the 1990s, including Victorian eclecticism, an appearance by William Butterfield, belated (Dudokian) Modernism, celebrities such as Walter Burley Griffin, Marion Mahony and Harry Seidler, and plenty of surprises. BinghamHall's brief captions are astute (the National Australia Bank of 1895 'still dominates central Brisbane despite conceding 40 floors to its rivals') and often amusing. Of St Patrick's Seminary, Sydney, he writes: 'Best viewed from a surfboard, St Patrick's grim Gothic presence is a reminder of the choices that one makes in life.' Left: a showroom by Julius Elischer, 1964.

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