other articles / reports

This is a general category that includes articles on perception of buildings, post occupancy evaluations of buildings (other than those included in housing, office or recreation facilities) and “omnibus” issues about design and designed environments.

What are the experiences of the people occupying the spaces?




Person-environment conditions that inspired regulatory and other changes to occur in building design from the 19th into the middle 20th centuries: The case of theatre design.

Ross Thorne

25 pages (illustrated)

Originally published in 'People and Physical Environment Research', Number 57, 2002, pp.39-62.

Fires and other catastrophes in theatres, where people were killed, initiated over time a number of official inquiries that resulted in improved regulations for the safety and comfort of patrons. A number of British and Australian examples are provided.

This same article is also listed under Lost Cinemas and Theatres.

File size 7.4MB

etching old theatre fire

Art Deco Style: Will the Real (Australian) Art Deco Please Stand Up?

Ross Thorne

28 pages (illustrated)

Originally published on this site (rossthorne.com), 2013.

The term “Art Deco” must be one of the most misused phrases in both design and architectural literature, and the media of radio, television and print.

It is incorrectly used as an omnibus term for everything designed in the 1920s and 1930s, whereas it really only describes, though its title, one of a number of styles of design for the interwar period.

The article attempts to define first, what a style is, how some authors have confused the issue, and what comprises a strict Art Deco style.

This same article is also listed under Architecture and Construction - Education.

File size 11.1MB


How well do heritage architects understand heritage conservation?

Ross Thorne and Richard Lamb

7 pages (illustrated)

Originally published as an editorial in People and Physical Environment Research, 57, 2002, pp.4-10.

This editorial argues that a number of architects do not understand the meaning of heritage conservation. What has confounded the situation is what has been called “adaptive re-use”, which was meant to allow a heritage building to be used for a function that was not necessarily that of the original. In reality, so-called adaptive reuse has allowed the original building to be altered out of recognition. A few important examples are given.

File size 2.1MB


Perceptual Acuity of Non-Architects to Incremental Changes in a Building Design: At What Point is a Colonial House not a Colonial House? (1990)

Ross Thorne

14 pages (illustrated)

Originally published in People and Physical Environment Research, No.32, 1990, pp.23-34.

In Britain, USA and Australia, Georgian style or so-called Colonial-style houses have been popular in the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. To architects, such “Colonial” style is, for the most part, a travesty of Colonial/Georgian architecture. This paper reports research into what laypersons perceive as “Colonial”, and how far removed that perception might become when compared to the original Colonial house.

File size 3.16MB


Cinema as “Place”: The case of the picture theatres in a group of towns and villages in the Central West of New South Wales.

Kevin Cork

13 pages (illustrated)

This article is included for its importance to cinema research, being the first known to use extensive qualitative research, rather than occasional anecdotes, to describe the experience of attending local cinemas before television. It demonstrates the social importance of cinema at the time. The article supplements the one by Kevin Cork and Ross Thorne on cinema admissions

File size 6MB

broadway cinema sydney

The Low Visibility of Architects amongst those Responsible for the Buildings in our Cities (1996)

Ross Thorne

18 pages (illustrated)

Originally published in People and Physical Environment Research, No.50, pp.28-42.

This paper is the first part of two detailing the results of qualitative research that asked the question, “Who is responsible for the design of the buildings in which we live and work, and see around us?” Architects were not mentioned by the group discussants, but developers, local councils, and the State Government were mentioned as being responsible. It demonstrated that architects are almost unknown in the building production process.

File size 5.86MB


Community Opinion of City Architecture: A Qualitative Study (1997)

Ross Thorne

21 pages (illustrated)

Originally published in People and Physical Environment Research, No.52, pp.28-48.

This is the second part of the results of a qualitative study on “Who is responsible for the buildings we see and use every day?” The discussants in the groups had photographs of Sydney city buildings, each one of which they turned up when requested, and asked to comment upon. This paper reports the comments made.

File size 5.07MB


Hallmark Events as an Excuse for Autocracy in Urban Planning: a case history of Sydney’s Monorail (1989).

Ross Thorne and Margaret Munro-Clarke

20 pages (illustrated)

Originally published as Chapter 13 in The Planning and Evaluation of Hallmark Events, Aldershot, UK: Avebury, pp.154-171.

In Australia’s Bi-Centenary of White Settlement the NSW Government wanted to produce a grand present for the population of Sydney – the Darling Harbour Development. It required transport from the adjacent CBD. The story of achieving this transport – a monorail – exhibited extreme autocracy in urban planning.

File size 622Kb


The Environmental Psychology of Theatres and Movie Palaces.

Ross Thorne

23 pages (illustrated)

Originally published in Environmental Perspectives, Ethnoscapes Vol. 1, Aldershot UK: Avebury. Architects of the movie palaces of the 1920s, in attempting to communicate designs that would be appreciated by the masses, were conscious of the effects of colour and decoration on people’s moods. They described their work in elementary “psychological” terms. Recounting their writings has implications for the meaning of architecture today.

File size 3.0MB

Regent Theatre Brisbane