An Enquiry from Australia

Spring 2004

Christopher Vernon, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, the University of Western Australia, writes:

‘I presently am engaged in research directed at the connections between Sir Edwin Lutyens and Australia. In 1911, the Commonwealth of Australia launched an international design competition for its new Federal Capital city Canberra. That the competition outcome was to be decided by a layman, however, led the RIBA to censure its members’ participation. Hence, Sir Edwin did not enter. In 1912, American landscape architect, Walter Burley Griffin, along with his architect-artist wife and professional partner Marion Mahony Griffin, won the contest. When later working with Sir Herbert Baker on the design of New Delhi, Lutyens consulted the Griffins’ prize-winning Canberra design.

Although Lutyens was unable to participate in the Canberra competition, a troika of young apprentices than in his employ did make a submission (perhaps as they were not yet members of the RIBA). The collaborative entry was made by Ernest Schaufelberg, Verner Rees and William Gummer. Gummer went on to gain renown in his native New Zealand. Rees later practiced in London (one of his most notable projects being a collaborative design for the Institute of Tropicial Medicine). Schaufelberg remains the most enigmatic of the three; I have been unable to unearth any documents pertaining to his career. Clayre Percy, however, recently called my attention to the facts that Schaufelberg later designed the Fortune Theatre, the façade of the Adelphi Theatre and alterations to Her Majesty’s Theatre; all in London.

Can any members shed any light on Rees and Schaufelberg? The RIA, for example, has only a handful of later drawings by Rees and nothing on Schaufelberg. Perhaps their descendants could provide additional information? I very much would appreciate hearing from anyone who might be able to provide any leads or additional information.’

Christopher Vernon, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Australia.

(Contact details were correct at the time of publishing, Spring 2004).