Modernism on the Line


  • Robert Vale



Architectural toys (New Zealand), Modernism (Architecture), Miniature objects, Architectural models, Railroads, Miniature, Architecture, New Zealand, Aotearoa, History, 20th Century


The invitation to this symposium refers to "the baby boom, which "boosted the market for children's toys."" This paper explores the extent to which the toys of that era in New Zealand could be seen to have actively promoted and encouraged Modernist architecture. The particular focus will be on toy trains and model railways and how their manufacturers, both off-shore and local, produced model railway buildings that were decidedly Modern in form and quite unlike the largely nineteenth-century buildings seen by the majority of travellers on New Zealand Railways. This paper argues that 1950s New Zealand was an outpost of non-Modernism when it comes to railway buildings, both full size and toys. By tracing the history of model railways and how they engaged with Modern design it posits that the only OO scale model railway buildings that were mass produced in New Zealand were traditional in form, although made of plastic, the quintessentially modern material.


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2015-10-01 — Updated on 2022-07-13


How to Cite

Vale, R. (2022). Modernism on the Line. Architectural History Aotearoa, 12, 47–58. (Original work published October 1, 2015)