Meet the architect: Henry Budden

Born just outside of Bathurst in rural New South Wales and the son of a bank manager and flour miller, Budden grew up to be one of Australia’s most celebrated architects.

By Benjamen Judd 

The richness of Sydney’s architectural landscape owes much to the work of one man – Henry [Harry] Ebenezer Budden. 

A master of the Federation and Art Deco themes so popular during his prime, Budden was considered a brilliant and somewhat radical architect. His particular genius was his ability to meet the expectations of current trends while at the same understand the need for a sense of timelessness in the design. 

Born in 1871, Budden grew up in Rockley – a small village in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales just outside of Bathurst and a somewhat quaint, idyllic start for someone who was to grow to become somewhat of a maverick in the world of architecture. 

After graduating from Newington College, Budden articled (apprenticed) himself to Harry Kent (designer of Presbyterian Ladies College and the magnificent Queen Anne-style home of John Fairfax, Caerleon) while formally studying architecture at Sydney University. Kent and Budden would later open their own firm together.

In 1894, during his apprenticeship with Kent, Budden won the prestigious Sulman Scholarship which gave him the opportunity to attend the Royal Academy in London where he became an associate by examination of the Royal Institute of British Architects

During his time abroad worked in the office of Sir Aston Webb, before crossing the Atlantic and finding work in the Boston office of Peabody & Stearns before returning to Australia via San Francisco

These experiences – the old world aesthetics of Europe and the brash, modernist approach of America – converged in Budden’s fertile imagination and influences of each can be found throughout  Budden’s work.

Aside from what some say was his opus, the Metropolitan Water Sewerage & Drainage Board Building (now known as Primus Hotel Sydney), Budden also designed the wonderful Transport House on Macquarie Street (for which he won the John Sulman Medal); Griffith Teas on Wentworth Avenue (now becoming one of the hottest properties in Sydney) and luxe retail destination, David Jones on Elizabeth Street. 

In 1918, Budden was granted Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for his as organiser of the Australian Comforts Fund.


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