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Robin Dods 1868-1920- Selected Works

URO Media


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Retired architect James W (Jim) Gibson, a member of Indooroopilly Uniting Church, is passionate about Australia's modest timber church buildings.

This work by Brisbane heritage conservation architect, Robert Riddel, is important in publicly acknowledging and detailing the life and accomplishments of one of Australia's more influential and talented early twentieth-century architects.

Robin Dods – Selected Works traces the career of Robert (Robin) Smith Dods, whose architectural legacy lives on in such Brisbane buildings as St Brigid's Catholic Church in Red Hill, the Mater Hospital, the St John's Cathedral precinct, and the Dods' house on Wickham Terrace.

Not often does a book come on the market that celebrates the richness of Queensland's architectural heritage and acknowledges the debt owed to our early architects in framing the fabric of our built environment. Robert Riddel has helped fill a large gap.

The book was the recipient in 2012 of the coveted John Herbert Award conferred by the National Trust Queensland for outstanding contribution to the awareness of our cultural heritage.

In 200 pages of quality presentation, Robert Riddel has distilled his more than 30 years of fascination with Robin Dods into a detailed, visual and readable assessment of his architectural works.

Over a 20-year period in Brisbane, from 1896 to 1916, Robin Dods was the design architect in the architectural practice of Hall and Dods, responsible for a large number and diverse range of buildings in Brisbane and south-east Queensland.

The book examines, in chronological order, 34 of his building projects ranging from the most modest to the most sophisticated — from simple timber chapel to complex cathedral; from elegant timber house to city office building; churches, residences, hospitals, banks, commerce and industry — a remarkable diversity of work that exemplifies the versatility of a truly great design architect.

The houses of Robin Dods, in particular, closely followed by his timber churches, hold great popular appeal. In these buildings especially, he lifted the quality of the Queensland "timber and tin" vernacular to a higher plane. His timber houses are the embodiment of elegance, simplicity and boldness of form and structure.

His timber chapels are a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous porch and gable buildings that proliferated throughout Queensland. His lovely timber chapel, All Saints at Tamrookum, moved the genre from mundane to exceptional.

Riddel's intimate knowledge of his subject, the broad spectrum of illustration, the sheer artistry of the architectural drawings, and the sensitivity of Richard Stringer's photography make this a valuable and attractive overview of the creative energy of Robin Dods.

A slight personal disappointment is the absence of a full glossary of the work of Dods, particularly a listing of the 35 ecclesiastical projects attributed to him.

Robin Dods – Selected Works could well be a catalyst for further essays into the lives of other Queensland architects who played important roles in the development of the State, people like FDG Stanley, Richard Gailey, RG Suter, JH Buckeridge and others.

As for me, I am motivated to search out those two dozen or so churches of the 35 designed by Dods that I have not yet discovered.