Anderson Stuart Building, University of Sydney Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Anderson Stuart Building, University of Sydney Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Anderson Stuart Building, University of Sydney Including Interior
Other name/s: Old Medical School
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Education
Category: University
Primary address: Parramatta Road, Camperdown, NSW 2050
Local govt. area: Sydney


The University of Sydney: Camperdown Campus
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Parramatta RoadCamperdownSydney  Primary Address
Eastern AvenueUniversity of SydneySydney  Alternate Address
Eastern AvenueCamperdownSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The building has been in continuous use as a medical school, the purpose for which it was originally designed, since 1889. The Medical School is closely associated with the work of Professor T P Anderson Stuart who supervised every aspect of its development from 1884 until his death in 1920. The site, quality of design, materials and workmanship of the building gave visible proof of the respectability and dominance of medicine as an academic discipline. This dominance was an important feature of the organisation of the University as a whole for a prolonged period. The building is a fine example of organic growth with harmonious extensions to the original.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: J Barnet, Colonial Architect 1884-90, W L Vernon, Govt. Architect 1909-12, Prof. L Wilkinson 1922
Construction years: 1884-1922
Physical description: The arrangement of the original block is symmetrical, virtually on 2 axes, and has an Elizabethan type 'double faced E' plan. The axes are marked internally by east west and north south corridors paved with white and black marble. The southern and western terminations of the corridors feature English stained glass. The building itself is a brick structure encased in sandstone, and carried out in detailing similar to the main building, on which Barnet had worked as Clerk of Works. Between 1907-12, the Government Architect, W.L. Vernon, added the north west ( c. 1907) and north east (c.1910) extensions and the linking walkway and external spiral staircase. The walkways and stair are an early use of re-enforced concrete. In 1922 the Professor of Architecture Leslie Wilkinson completed the north facade inserting an Elizabethan Revival style pavilion between the earlier wings. Each addition has been designed to complement the earlier stages of the building. With the exception of the corridors, western staircase, and perhaps Vernon's Listerian Theatre, no interiors have survived in an unmutilated condition. Externally the building has carved sandstone detailing, including a raven who watches over the entrance. The raven is an allusion to Anderson Stuart. Many of the original decorative features of each stage also survive including stained glass and marble flooring, metalwork, tilework, door furniture and light fittings. Evidence of earlier colour schemes and finishes also survives. Two courtyards were formed, at different levels due to the slope of the site, separated by a link building in the form of a cloister (now modified). The original wing contained a museum and laboratories on the ground floor and five theatres and a dissecting room on the first floor. Additional theatres were constructed within the new wings. The building contains a collection of busts of "medical heroes".
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The external structure remains intact. Few of the original spaces and fittings remain.
Date condition updated:16 Feb 06
Modifications and dates: 1909-1910 - North-West Wing
1910-1912 - North-East Wing
1922 - Link
Further information: Refer to the 1999 University of Sydney Heritage Fabric Survey, an in-depth study of the Gothic Revival buildings at the University of Sydney, to assess their relative levels of significance on an international level.

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: University Facility
Former use: N/A


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. .

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City

The Medical School began its life in 1883 in a small cottage on Science Road (later the site of the School of Mines) but the following year the Senate resolved that a Medical School be erected without delay. Designed by the Colonial Architect, James Barnet, to a specific brief from an academic committee, every aspect of the development of the Medical School was supervised by its founder, the recently appointed Professor of Anatomy and Physiology T P Anderson Stuart. On a prominent site to the south of the main building, the school was designed to be in harmony with it in both architectural style and materials. Construction began in 1884 and the school was occupied in April 1889 although some works continued until 1892. Facilities for women, who had just been admitted to the University, were added during construction. Functional requirements such as large rooms, 20ft ceilings and ventilation control were determined by Anderson Stuart. Additions at the north-west (1909-1910) and north-east (1910-1912) designed by the Government Architect formed a quadrangle on the north side, completed in 1922 when a link between the two additions was completed, designed by Leslie Wilkinson. The building has since been subject to repeated internal subdivision.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
One of the first two medical schools in Australia, and the first to be associated with a teaching hospital (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Gothic Revival style Medical school visually complements the main quadrangle of Sydney University and is of considerable architectural significance in its own right. The detailing of the stonework of the original block is similar to that of Blacket's main quad building and the carving demonstrates a high standard of craftsmanship. The later stages also have significant carved decorative detail.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
For its continued use as a medical school.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
A rear early example of the use of reinforced concrete construction (the spiral stair and walkways).
SHR Criteria f)
Part of a rare group of Gothic Revival buildings, possibly the most significant group of its type in Australia. A rare example of a late nineteenth century medical school.
Integrity/Intactness: Substantially intact externally (except for roof penetrations and infill to the lower courtyard). Modified internally.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Refer to the detailed conservation policies contained within the Conservation Plan for the Anderson Stuart Building by Dr. J. S. Kerr for this building. Future works should aim to implement these policies. Refer also to the 1999 University of Sydney Heritage Fabric Survey. Ensure that the impact of any proposal on the heritage significance of the buildings, and their setting, is assessed when planning new works.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012I8914 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Register of the National Estate and National Trust Listing Cards
WrittenDPWS Heritage Group and Otto Cserhalmi & Partners, 1999. Document - University of Sydney, Heritage Fabric Survey
WrittenDr J S Kerr1992Anderson Stuart Medical School: a plan for its conservation

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2431007

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