When ‘quiet voiced pragmatist’ Fred Pooley (1916-1998) visited Australia as guest of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in the summer of late 1981, he was recently retired from practice; a past president of the RIBA and seemingly best known for his role – such as it was – in the development of Milton Keynes. Indeed, Pooley himself was far more formative in the creation of MK’s unrealised precursor, the futuristic North Bucks New City, also known as ‘Pooleyville.’
Pooley’s visit was planned so that he might address audiences in all state capitals, as well as Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, and Canberra; this last he praised as ‘an outstanding example of city planning.’ It might be surmised that both planning and architecture – and the symbiotic relationship that so often exists between the two, particularly in new purpose-built township and city environments – was sufficiently developed in Australia in the early 1980s that Pooley is unlikely to have strongly affected its direction. He was almost a decade on from presidency of the RIBA, and ‘Pooleyville’ was almost two decades in the past.
But do these facts negate the value of Pooley’s experience – or of Australia’s experience of Pooley? This paper examines the Pooley visit and its outcomes at a time when Australia, having all but abandoned its interests in new town construction, was nonetheless continuing to explore mechanisms to expand and extend its existing cities and house an increasing population. The milieu of the early 1980s, Pooley’s message, and his own response to Australia, are examined in detail in this paper.