This thesis examines the Tennyson Power Station in the context of its importance to the development of Brisbane. It is not concerned with the engineering aspects of the power station, but rather with what the building represents to the city of Brisbane. Its architectural style is considered to be part of that importance.
The stage of Brisbane's development that I am referring to 16 what Reyner Banham describes as the Second Machine Age 1n the Introduction of 'Theory and Design in the First Machine Age'(1960): "the age of domestic electronics and synthetic chemistry." (p.10)1 With respect to Brisbane, thi6 16 associated with the increased post World War Two development of mass suburb1a; for it is in the suburban home that this domestic revolution took place. This marks the start of the transformation of Brisbane to a modern sub/urban city, characterized by its total reliance upon electricity for its life.
The Introduction describes a brief history of city development 1n general, and concentrating on the early Twentieth century - models of garden cities being the predecessors of present suburbia. Peculiarities of Australian cities is then discussed, finishing with an examination of Brisbane's situation in relationship to its peer capital cities.
Chapter One presents details of the station's statistics and Its immediate pre-history. Tennyson 1s then placed 1n the context of Brisbane, outlining its areas of Importance.
Chapter Two traces the development of the electricity supply industry in Brisbane, up to and including the conception of Tennyson. It discusses its Importance to the post war development 1n Brisbane. Part of this discussion relates to the transformation of Brisbane to a electricity reliant city. This leads on to Chapter Three.
Chapter Three looks at the growth of Brisbane as a city by tracing the development of the Brisbane City Council. This sets the context for an analysis of the changes to the sociali structure of the city for which the development of an electricity network promotes.
Chapter Four looks at the building itself and the image it portrays to the people of Brisbane. This image 1s discussed 1n terms of the building's importance 1n Brisbane. Possible design influences and origins are suggested and investigated. This leads to the examination of English architecture of the 1930's, and the Influence of European Modernism. Brought to light is a tenuous relationship that exists between utopian qualities of De Stijl philosophies that infiltrate the Modern Movement, and the image of the achievements of the universal electricity supply to post war Brisbane expressed 1n the symbolism of the Tennyson Power Station. It is the symbolism that 1s most significant, because this message, expressed through the physical object, remains the permanent landmark of this stage of development of Brisbane City.