"Derham Groves has written this illuminating story of an exceptional but hitherto unsung Australian architect whose distinctive designs in China as well as his homeland may still be seen and enjoyed. In this book Groves has for the first time revealed some characteristic strands of Arthur Purnell's talents, whereby his subject's remarkable creativity is now clear for us to enjoy."
- Robert Irving, architecture historian and pupil of Arthur Purnell
Arthur Purnell's 'Forgotten' Architecture: Canton and Cars focuses on two early phases in the career of the much overlooked and underrated Australian architect, Arthur Purnell (1878-1964). In 1903, Purnell teamed up with the American engineer, Charles Paget (1874-1933) in Canton, China. Between 1903 and 1910, Purnell and Paget designed many important and impressive buildings, including the Arnhold, Karberg & Co. building (1907), one of the first reinforced concrete buildings in Southern China, and the South China Cement Factory (1907), which would later become the headquarters of Dr. Sun Yatsen (1866-1925), the first president of the Republic of China. Not many architects can design a cement factory fit for a president's palace! When Purnell returned to Australia in 1910, he had to start again from scratch. As cars were taking over from horses in a big way, he saw that designing for cars would be the next big thing in architecture. The fledgling Australian car industry was full of colourful, larger-than-life characters like Col. Harley Tarrant (1860-1949), who built his first car in 1897 and Australia's first petrol-fuelled car in 1901, and Alec Barlow Sr. (1880-1937), the archetypal dodgy car salesman. Purnell wanted in, designing many buildings for both men, including early car factories and car showrooms. In this unique book, Groves asks: why isn't Arthur Purnell more famous?
Derham Groves is a Senior Fellow in Architecture at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He has written extensively on popular architecture and design, including about Anna May Wong, feng-shui, Hopalong Cassidy, letterboxes, Sherlock Holmes, television, and The Monkees.
1. Preface.- Part One: Canton.- 2. Educating Arthur.-
3. Purnell & Paget.-
4. The Employees.-
5. The Buildings.-
6. Arthur Purnell in Melbourne.-