Colonial Mutual Life (CML) Assurance Society Ltd Building

Colonial Mutual Life (CML) Assurance Society Ltd Building

This was the most prestigious building erected in the mid-1930s, after the worst years of the Depression. With its high-quality neo-Romanesque detailing, it is one of the most distinctive buildings in Adelaide. The magazine Building of January 12, 1935, called it “new note” in Adelaide architecture and a “distinctive and colourful interpretation of the Romanesque style”.

The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Co. (CML) had reached a stage in its development when it built impressive, internationally recognisable offices. While this building is in the company’s signature style, it is also a “skyscraper” of the transitional period in architecture. It uses the proportion and detailing of earlier styles, abstracted and reinterpreted.

The building was constructed during 1935-36. It was designed by architects Hennessy, Hennessy and Co and built by Concrete Constructions (S.A.) Ltd. The architects had built in this style elsewhere, and were responsible for its evolution and adoption by the CML for its buildings in Brisbane, Durban (South Africa) and Wellington (New Zealand).

One of the most interesting features of the Adelaide CML was its skyline, with the tower and mansard roof tiled with Wilsons tiles in colours that matched those in the Benedict stonework of the King William Street and Hindley Street facades. The lions, vultures and other ornamentation, cast in Benedict stone, were brought from the Benedict stoneworks in Brisbane.

Externally the building is largely unchanged, although the window-framing has been altered. The interior was modernised and light wells filled in to create a new southern facade during renovations in 1980.

Notes

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Significance

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This building is significant as one of the first 'skyscrapers' in Adelaide. It is extremely distinctive but at the same time contributes a uniformity with other buildings on King William Street.


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Images of Colonial Mutual Life (CML) Assurance Society Ltd Building

  • Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Co. Building, 2014
 
Architects
Hennessy & Hennessy
Builders
Concrete Constructions (SA) Ltd
Building materials
Concrete
Architectural styles
3.12 Inter-War Period (c. 1915–c. 1940)
Construction
1934 - 1936 

Additional Works

Refurbishments

Description
Construction commenced
4/7/1979
Construction completed
4/7/1980
Architecture and design features
Hennessy & Hennessy, Benedict Stone, gargoyles, transitional, neo-romanesque
Engineering features
 
Precinct
Rundle Mall
Council Ward
Central
Alternative Addresses
Geo-coordinates
Town Acre
78
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Office
AS2482 classification
11510 - Business House - Offices
Public Access
Business/trading hours
 
NTSA ID
3597
State Heritage ID
11637
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
1275
RNE ID
1275
Certificate of Title No.
CT 5399/103 F128866 A1
NTSA file exists
Yes
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
 
Historic Themes
3.7 Working Men and Women
3.7.3 Office Workers
4.7 Memorable Development Eras
Topics
Depression
 
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation
ACHHK116
 

References

  • ACA, BSO, index, 26 September 1933, Plan 3876; Building, 12 January 1935; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre 78).

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