The Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects has announced a new named award for Educational Architecture, the Henry Bastow Award.

Henry Robert Bastow (1839 – 1920) was a Victorian architect and surveyor for the Victorian State Schools Division who guided major Victorian education infrastructure development until 1894, during a time when the Government was determined to roll out free, secular and compulsory education.

According to the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, Bastow’s appointment would “change the face of education”:

“With training in the classics abroad, and contemporary architectural experience here, Bastow was about to bring to Victoria’s first education building revolution a significant and lasting influence”.

During the first five years of his appointment, 615 new schools were created, most of which Bastow was directly responsible for. The Institute notes:


“How Bastow and his team managed to achieve this is staggering. They worked with limited funds and multiple building crews, when communication was mostly via the time-consuming telegraph and when locations were sometimes so remote that building material could take months to arrive by bullock wagon or horse and cart,”

“Above all else, it was Bastow’s love of neo-gothic that is most remembered. He gave school buildings individual touches – a sense of grandeur to the large schools, and decorative detail to the small.”


Lithograph of St Kilda Park State School no.2460, St Kilda. Completed in 1882, the neo-gothic designed school features towers and bell turrets that create a central focal point. Image: State Library of Victoria. Source: Bastow Institute

Altogether, Bastow designed more than 900 school buildings, most of which are still in use today. The interiors of his designs also changed as the education building revolution transformed and teachers began to voice their dissatisfaction of designs that sought to keep the attention on the group rather than individual students.


Architectural drawing of Queensbury St State School no.307 North Melbourne, now the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership. Image: Public Records Office of Victoria. Source: Bastow Institute