Architect Personal Details
Keith Neighbour was one of the first of the new breed of architects who shaped his own role as a Project Manager and entrepreneur. His designs showed a sophisticated use and understanding of concrete as a material.
Keith Neighbour was born on 13 June 1919 at Goolwa, South Australia, the son of Arthur Neighbour and Ivy (nee Doddridge). Educated at Victor Harbor High School, Neighbour then studied sculpting and painting at the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts. He married Lorna Pauline, daughter of Ernest and Florrie Crafter, on 5 February 1941 with whom he had two daughters (Who’s Who 2004).
Neighbour joined the RAAF air crew in 1940, aged 20 and flew as a gunner on a bomber (Starke 2005: 7). Eventually he was captured by the Japanese in Java in 1942 and was held as a Prisoner of War for 1248 days in camps such as Bicycle Camp in Java and Changi in Singapore; he was made to work on the Burma Railway where ‘In between torturous bouts of chipping rocks in Hellfire Pass, Neighbour drew sketches of camp life – the huts, the jungle and the people' (Starke 2005: 7). Together with his fellow prisoners, Neighbour ‘suffered appalling hardships as a prisoner of the Japanese’ (Page 1986: 203). He participated in P.O.W. camp concerts, as occasionally permitted by the Japanese, as a writer, director, scene artist, and actor in many plays and amateur productions (Dunlop 1986, Rivett 1954).
Once he regained his freedom in 1945 at the end of the war he returned to Adelaide: ‘Then I got on with my life, you know, did a university course, got busy with architecture’ (Starke 2005: 7). He studied architecture at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries and the University of Adelaide and graduated with a Fellowship in Architectural Engineering at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries and the University of Adelaide Degree of Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture in 1952. His graduation record stated 'He is one of the only two students who, during the past 20 years, have completed the course in the scheduled time of 5 years' (Perkins 1952).
Between 1948 and 1953 Neighbour was an articled student for Hassell and McConnell Architects, where Jack McConnell had an important influence on him. In an obituary for McConnell, Neighbour reflected that ‘he will always remain my mentor’ (Neighbour 2005). He then worked in the Architect-in-Chief’s Department in South Australia before travelling to the USA.
Neighbour attended the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA in 1953/1954 as an International Fulbright Scholar and was awarded the Albert Kahn Memorial Fellowship. He was also awarded Honorary Membership in the Tau Sigma Delta Honour Society of Architecture and Allied Arts, USA. In 1954 he obtained a Master of Architecture for his thesis entitled ‘Architecture and Medicine and Health’ which was published in the United States. While he was in the US he published numerous articles on architecture in an Adelaide newspaper as an overseas architecture correspondent, including one reporting on a lecture he attended by 'the greatest living architect, Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright' ('Houses by a great architect', 1954). While overseas he was employed with Vincent G. Kling of Philadelphia and in London by Howard G. Lobb and Partners (Page 1986: 204).
In 1954 Neighbour returned to Adelaide and joined Lawson, Cheesman, and Doley, ‘starting his long association with his great friend Jack Cheesman’ (President’s Medal 1994: 7). In this practice Neighbour ‘chaired an Administration Committee which was responsible for the day-to-day management of the organisation, acted as Chairman of Directors, and spent much of his time as Project Manager’ (Page 1986: 233). When Keith Neighbour and three of the senior architects, R.A. Brabham, A.L. Brownell and Newell J. Platten were offered and accepted partnerships the name of the firm became Lawson Cheesman Doley and Partners. Following the death of Brownell in 1959 the firm became Cheesman Doley Brabham and Neighbour with four senior and six junior partners.
In 1963 the firm established an office in Sydney with R.A. Brabham as Director. However, following the death of Brabham in 1970 the practice became Cheesman Doley Neighbour & Raffen Pty. Ltd. with D.G. Raffen as Director in charge of the Sydney office. ‘By 1973 the firm employed over 100 people in their Adelaide and Sydney offices. It was the largest architectural firm in South Australia and the third largest in Australia’ (Page 1986: 265). 1973 marked the retirement of J.D. Cheesman and M.E. Doley as directors and their appointment as special consultants to the firm.
In 1975 there were seven directors and six associates in the Adelaide office and two directors and two associates in the Sydney office with a branch office opened in Canberra. At this time Cheesman Doley Neighbour and Raffen employed over 100 people in Adelaide and Sydney, including more than 80 technical staff, architects and draughtsmen. The firm had its own printing facilities, including offset printing for the preparation of brochures, and provided public relations services regarding clients’ building and planning projects. In 1979, ‘by amicable arrangement they separated into three new firms’ (Page 1986: 268): Raffen Maron Architects; Haddrick, Harris & Wyman and KMH Neighbour & Lapsys Architects Pty. Ltd., in which Keith Neighbour and Antanas Lapsys were partners. In 1987 the practice became KMH Neighbour Lapsys Pty Ltd.
Keith Neighbour was a Life Fellow of the RAIA after first joining the SAIA as an Associate in 1952. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Neighbour held many roles relating to architecture and building including being a member of the Architects Registration Board of South Australia from 1977 and Chairman from 1987. He also held positions including Chair of the Construction Industry Advisory Council of South Australia and as a member of the Steering Committee on the Consolidation and Rationalisation of Building Legislation. He played an important role in the formation of the SA Practising Architects Association in 1963, later to become the Association of Consulting Architects SA, a body of which he became President. He was also a founding member, and a Chair, of the Australian Council of Built Environment Design Professions.
Neighbour received the RAIA President’s Medal (SA Chapter) in 1994. Significantly he received an Order of Australia in 1992 for his services to architecture. Neighbour educated the next generation of architects lecturing at both the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia as well as writing articles on architecture for the local architectural media.
In 1956 the RAIA staged an exhibition in conjunction with the Sixth Australian Architectural Convention. Keith Neighbour was Chair of the Exhibition Committee and played an important role in organising and documenting the event. The Exhibition, held in the Botanic Park in the Adelaide Park Lands, was designed to show architecture by means of models and actual buildings and hence stimulate interest in the latest developments in architecture. The Botanic Park site displayed pavilions which were intended to show ‘how beauty and logic can be combined to make more pleasing surroundings for daily living’ (Sixth Australian Architectural Convention Brochure 1956).
Neighbour was an avid and talented photographer, having photographs and articles published in photographic magazines. His recreational pursuits included swimming, power boating, shooting, computer programmes and astronomy. He was a member of numerous clubs including the Astronomical Society of South Australia, the Italian Association and the Adelaide Pistol Club (Who’s Who 2004).
The practice of Keith Neighbour in its different guises completed work ranging over homes for the aged, hotels, motels, cinemas, drive-ins, service stations, hospitals, schools, and multi-storey office buildings, houses, churches and factories. His own house, built in 1958 at Kays Road, Torrens Park, was an example of the honest use of materials using concrete block, timber, asbestos roofing and straw ceilings.
As Cheesman Doley Brabham and Neighbour the practice designed the Highways Department building at Walkerville which is a prime example of reinforced concrete with exposed structural elements, stairs and sunhoods featuring. Designed in 1959 it was built in two stages. In 1960 in the Sisalkraft factory on Torrens Road, Kilkenny the practice again used concrete, this time in concrete block walls and a thin concrete curved canopy at the front of the building.
The IMFC building on King William Street, Adelaide of 1964, uses prefabricated load bearing concrete wall panels to provide an economical alternative for multi storey construction, while the Ligertwood building at the University of Adelaide of 1965, also of concrete, reflects its neighbouring buildings in its design and provided a home for the Law faculty.
The dramatic cream brick, angular St Martins Church of England on Gorge Road at Campbelltown built in 1970 stands out as a landmark in its local area and shows how typical local materials can be used to great effect in an unusual design. The Millicent Civic and Arts Centre of 1972 also uses standard local materials, being of red brick and concrete. The Adelaide Kindergarten Teachers College, North Adelaide featured red brick on a domestic scale and won an Award of Merit form the RAIA (SA Chapter) in 1972, whereas Regency Park College on Regency Road, Regency Park of 1974 by Cheesman, Doley, Raffen and Neighbour comprised bold concrete forms which reflected the functions of the architectural programme of the School of Food and Catering. In 1977 the Noarlunga Regional Centre and Civic Centre, which featured off-white board marked concrete and tinted glass, received an Award of Merit from the RAIA (SA Chapter).
Other buildings by Neighbour’s practices included extensions to the Renmark Hotel, the South Australian Institute of Teachers, Unley, Greater Union theatres, the Wilochra Chapel, Reynella Lodge, the Football Stadium at West Lakes, the Sheraton Hotel at Alice Springs, the Commonwealth Centre on Currie Street, Adelaide and the refurbishment of the Terrace Hotel, North Terrace, Adelaide. The practice also worked on major developments for South Australia such as the multi-storey concrete Hilton Hotel on Victoria Square, Adelaide and the Flinders Medical Centre at Bedford Park.
Architectural works in South AustraliaTop
Firms or Professional Partnerships
|Name ||Dates Worked |
|Hassell and McConnell ||1948-c1953 |
|Architect-in-Chief's Department ||c1948-1953 |
|Vincent G. Kling, Philadelphia, USA ||1953-1954 |
|Howard G. Lobb, London, UK ||1954 |
|Lawson, Cheesman and Doley ||1954 |
|Lawson, Cheesman, Doley and Partners ||1954-1959 |
|Cheesman, Doley, Brabham and Neighbour ||1959-1960 |
|Cheesman, Doley, Neighbour and Raffen Pty. Ltd. ||1961-1978 |
|Neighbour & Lapsys Architects Pty. Ltd. ||1978-1987 |
|KMH Neighbour Lapsys Pty. Ltd. ||1987-1993 |
|Keith Neighbour Consultants ||1993- |
|Arkon Consultants ||1993-2003 |
|Reid Campbell SA Pty. Ltd. ||2001-2003 |
Lustri, Susan and Julie Collins (2010) The Architects Board of South Australia: A History 1939-2009, Architects Board of South Australia, Adelaide.
De Micheli, C. and Herd, M. (eds.) (2004) Who’s Who in Australia 2004, Crown Content, Melbourne.
Dunlop, E.E. (1986) The war diaries of Weary Dunlop: Java and the Burma-Thailand Railway 1942-1945, Nelson, Melbourne.
Neighbour, K. (2000) The Clients Guide to Construction Projects, RAIA, Melbourne.
Neighbour, K. (2006) A Guide to Construction Projects, (Second Edition), RAIA, Melbourne.
Page, M. (1986) Sculptors in Space: South Australian Architects 1836-1986, RAIA (SA), Adelaide.
Rivett, R. 91954) Behind Bamboo: an inside story of the Japanese prison camps, Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Royal Australian Institute of Architects (SA Chapter) (1981) Architecture SA 1970-1980, RAIA, Unley.
Walkley, G (1976) The Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Building, South Australian Institute of Technology, Adelaide.
(1994) ‘President’s Medal 1994: Keith Neighbour’, Architect South Australia, vol.9, no.5, November 1994: 6-7.
Neighbour, Keith (1994) ‘Obituary – Jack Denyer Cheesman’, Architect South Australia, vol.9, no.4, September 1994: 11-12.
Neighbour, Keith (1995) ‘The University of South Australia – City West Campus’, Architect South Australia, vol.10, no.1, March 1994: 21-24.
Neighbour, Keith (2003) ‘Reality and Virtual’, Architect South Australia, vol.17, no.5, Spring 2003: 10.
Neighbour, Keith (2005) ‘Vale Jack McConnell’, Architecture Australia, July-August 2005.
Maron, Guy (2011) 'The Passing of a Legend', PLACE, March 2011:4.
Held, John (2011) PLACE, March 2011:5.
Starke, Petra (2005) ‘Neighbour shows art of war’, Eastern Courier, 10 August: 7.
Neighbour, Keith (1954) Architecture and Medicine and Health, Harkness Foundation, USA, copy held at Architecture Museum, Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design, University of South Australia (LLSAM).
Neighbour, Keith (2008) pers. comm. with author.
Cheesman, Robert (2011) 'Vale Keith Neighbour AM', Obituary, Neighbour collection, S294, LLSAM.
Crafter, Greg (2011) 'Keith Neighbour AM', Obituary, Neighbour collection, S294, LLSAM.
Sixth Australian Architectural Convention, 1956 Brochure, Neighbour collection, S294, LLSAM.
‘Houses by a great architect’, Mail, 1954, newspaper clippings file, Neighbour collection, S294/2, LLSAM.
Maron, Guy (2011) 'Keith Neighbour', Obituary, Neighbour collection, S294, LLSAM.
Neighbour, Keith, biographical excerpt magazine clippings file, Johnson collection, S212/11/15, LLSAM.
Neighbour, Keith, Curriculum Vitae news clippings, reports, drawings, Neighbour Collection, S294, LLSAM.
Cheesman Doley Neighbour & Raffen Pty Ltd c.1924-1970, Comprising historical note on predecessor firms, numerical lists & binders of plans printed from microfilm together with some original plans, BRG 279, State Library of South Australia.
Perkins, R.W. (1952) Certification of results, South Australian School of Mines and Industries, 10 July 1952, copy held in Neighbour collection, S294, LLSAM.
WW2 Nominal Roll, online at http://www.ww2roll.gov.au/script/veteran.asp?ServiceID=R&VeteranID=861493
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