This Remarkable Building Killed a Road Project - Bonython Hall
This Remarkable Building Killed a Road Project - Bonython Hall

This Remarkable Building Killed a Road Project - Bonython Hall

A spite building is a structure to annoy a neighbour or impact a developer. Bonython Hall at the University of Adelaide in South Australia is one of the world’s most significant buildings, located to stop a road project.

View on Youtube:


A spite building is a structure which is built to annoy your neighbour or a developer. It achieves a similar outcome to a holdout building that is when someone won't sell their house for a development, like an airport or a road.

And this is Bonython Hall which must be one of the world's grandest examples of a building being located to stop a development. In this case, the development of a road.

Because this is Pulteney Street, one of Adelaide's most significant roads. It runs North South before abruptly stopping right here. Now that's not a coincidence. In fact, Bonython Hall was located in part for that very reason. This is part of the University of Adelaide and Bonython Hall is the university's great hall. It's used for things like graduation events and ceremonies.

It was built in the 1930s and came about through a donation from a local politician and previous newspaper owner Sir Langdon Bonython. And he made this donation to the tune of £50,000 for a building like this inspired by some others he'd seen at universities around the country.

So it's a remarkable building and not just for its incredible Gothic architecture but for its location. You see Adelaide is a planned city. The first planner and designer of the city was Colonel William Light. Who was the state surveyor general. Now it's pretty remarkable how close contemporary Adelaide is to those original plans except for right here. In those plans, Pulteney Street continues North crossing the river and heading to North Adelaide. But today it doesn't. And that's due to this building.

You see, in the time between Colonel Light developing his plan and this building being built this whole area was given to the University of Adelaide. Now they didn't want to see that road continuing. It would split the campus in two. It would have the library on one side and the rest of it on the other.

So they were in favour of locating this building in a point that would stop the extension of that road. And that wasn't universally agreed upon. Adelaide City Council had some members that thought we should follow Light's vision and continue the road. In fact, they said that that could become a Northern highway and this building could be located way back in the center of the city. But the people that had the decision-making powers the politicians didn't really get involved in it.

So Bonython and the University Council got their way but it wasn't over when they built it. In fact, in the 1950s there were people still making the suggestion that it could be demolished and the road extended.

But as we approach a 100 years of Bonython Hall it looks like it's here to stay. 1000s of students graduate here every year and it's been placed on the State's historic register. So it looks like that road will stop and stay where it is.

I'm Julian O'Shea, I hope you enjoyed this. If you did, please share and subscribe. That's it from me.