The Anglo-Jewish community of Melbourne underwent radical change and massive growth from the 1930s with the immigration of those fleeing Hitler’s Europe. This paper will explore the making of modern Jewish Melbourne through an architectural and social history of the many institutional buildings constructed in the 1950s, 60s and 70s that gave form to this burgeoning community. Synagogues, schools, community centres, memorials, aged care facilities, a theatre, a library, and a burial centre were constructed in these decades. Beyond these institutions thousands of new dwellings were built to house this growing migrant community. These community buildings have architectural significance as the architects of modern Jewish Melbourne were mostly Jewish émigrés who brought with them detailed knowledge of the innovations and complexities of European modernism. They had trained and worked in some of the major centres of modern architectural thought. The biographies of some of these architects have been reported, yet despite the scale and socio-cultural significance of their collective architectural and social achievement, little attention has been paid to modern Jewish Melbourne. This paper will survey Jewish institutional architecture constructed in Melbourne between 1938 and 1979, focusing on its purpose, aspirations, architects, and architectural expression. It will show that there was a focus on creating a cohesive Jewish community to ensure the continuation of the Jewish people. Finally, the paper demonstrates that this mostly unexplored architectural and social history is of significance both within Australian architecture, architecture of the Jewish diaspora, and of postwar migration generally.
The author 2018
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018