|Ph.D Student||Aharon-Ron Fuchs|
|Subject||Austenst Barbe Harrison a British Architect in the Holy|
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisors||Professor Emeritus Herbert Gilbert (Deceased)|
|Professor Best David|
Austen St. Barbe Harrison (1891-1976) served the government of the British Mandate in Palestine as chief architect of its Public Works Department for fifteen years. During this period (1922-1937) he was responsible for the design of all official government buildings, from simple utilitarian structures to monumental and symbolic buildings such as the High Commissioner's Residence and the Palestine Archaeological Museum (today Rockefeller Museum). In 1943-1947 Harrison was again involved in design in Palestine - this time as a private architect - working chiefly on a project of the highest importance: Central Government Offices and a Legislative Assembly.
Harrison's work is of interest first as an architectural achievement of considerable quality. He may be included among the most interesting British architects of the post-Edwardian generation influenced by Edwin Lutyens and Charles Holden.
It is the colonial context, however, which makes his work particularly interesting. As an official architect of a quasi-colonial government, his task was to give an architectural expression to a foreign power’s conception of its role and of its understanding of the destiny of its subject country. In Palestine this inevitably involved taking a stand in the political question of the British ‘dual obligation’ towards Jews and Arabs, as well as in the architectural dilemma between Tradition (represented by local Arab culture) and Modernism (represented by the new Jewish architecture).
The thesis - basing itself on a study of historical documents, interviews, plans and photographs- presents an analysis of the architectural qualities and the history of the design of a series of projects handled by Harrison, interpreting their colonial implications;
Harrison’s post-Palestinian work, as well as the contribution of other architects who worked in Palestine parallel to him, is discussed as a basis for comparison.
Harrison’s regionalistic approach is emphasized, and an attempt to relate it to preservationist and paternalist colonial attitudes is made.