Researcher biography

Dr Deborah van der Plaat is a Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland. She was formerly as Senior Research Fellow and Manager of the Architecture Theory Criticism History Research Centre (ATCH), UQ. Her research examines the architecture of nineteenth century Queensland and Britain and their intersection with contemporary theories of artistic agency, climate, place and race. Writing histories of Queensland architecture is a second focus within her work. With John Macarthur, Jane Hunter, Andrew Wilson and industry partners State Library of Queensland, Conrad Gargett Architecture, Bligh Voller Nield, Wilson Architects and Riddel Architecture, she developed the Australian Research Council funded Linkage project "Architectural Practice in Post-war Queensland: Building and Interpreting an Oral History Archive" (2011-2013). Major outcomes of the project include: an exhibition, Hot Modernism: Building Modern Queensland 1945-1975 (State Library of Queensland, July- October 2014) curated with Janina Gosseye, Kevin Wilson and Gavin Bannerman; the Digital Archive of Qld Architecture; and a book, Hot Modernism: Queensland Architecture 1945-1975 (London: Artifice Press, 2015) co-edited with John Macarthur, Janina Gosseye and Andrew Wilson. In 2017, the project was awarded the John Herbert Memorial Award and the Gold Heritage Award, Interpretation and Promotion by the National Trust, Queensland.

From 2009-2011 she was the recipient of the UQ Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women to work on the project, "Tropical environments and Queensland architecture (1850-1914): building historical understandings of the culture of architecture and climate change." This project resulted in a symposium titled Architecture at the Ragged Edge of Empire: Race, Taste and Place and the Colonial Context (State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, 27-28 June, 2013) and a number of papers which explore the insection of architecture, climate and race in Queensland architecture. This research is ongoing.

From 2010-2014, Deborah was an editor of Fabrications, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand and co-edited a series of themed issues including: The Nineteenth Century (20:2), Cosmopolis (21:2), American Links and Exchanges (22:1), Canberra Centenary (23:1) and Disciplinarity (23:2). With Antony Moulis, she convened Audience, the Twenty First Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand (State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, July 2011). She is currently a member of the Society's editorial board.

Deborah's work has been published in international and national journals including Architectural History, Architectural Histories, Fabrications, History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, Interstices, Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide, Journal of Australasian Victorian Studies, Australian and New Zealand Art Journal and the Australian Journal of Garden History. Forthcoming books include: Karl Langer: Migrant and Modern Architect in Tropical Australia (London: Bloomsbury 2019), edited with John Macarthur & and Speaking of Buildings: Oral History Methods in Architecture (NewYork: Princeton Architectural Press 2019) edited with Janina Gosseye and Naomi Stead.


American Society of Environmental Historians (ASEH) Travel Award 2019.

Graham Foundation Grant 2018.

John Herbert Memorial Award for the Most Outstanding Nomination, Hot Modernism: Exhibition, Digital Archive and Book, National Trust, Queensland, 2017.

Gold Heritage Award, Interpretation and Promotion, Hot Modernism: Exhibition, Digital Archive and Book, National Trust, Queensland, 2017.

Annual Conference Senior Scholar Fellowship, Society of Architectural Historians 2013.

Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women (University of Queensland) 2009-2012.


Member, Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)

Member, European Architectural History Network (EAHN)

Member, the Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA)

Member, COST Action ISO904 European Architecture Beyond Europe

Member, Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ)

Member, Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ)

Featured projects Duration
Race, place, taste and the colonial context
Robin Gibson
Digital archive of Queensland architecture
ARC Linkage Project

Areas of research