She and her architect husband Peter Simpson worked for the Commonwealth Department of Works in Sydney and then in Adelaide. They designed their own home in both cities; their commissions included design and documentation of the Woomera Rocket Range in 1951.
Despite advice in a pre-admission interview ‘that it wouldn’t be possible for her to get through the course. It was too difficult for a woman’ Marjorie Simpson enrolled in the architectural course at Sydney Technical College qualifying in 1948 and continued working in the architectural office of Eric Nicholls until she was registered in 1949.
Marjorie Simpson was appointed Director of the Small Homes Service of South Australia in 1957. In one assessment ‘Her dedication and ingenuity … kept these services alive’. The Small Homes Service was sponsored by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the Master Builders Association and the Timber Development Corporation. Its intention was to provide better-designed housing for those who would not normally engage the services of an architect.
During her time as Director of the Small Homes Service most of her activities involved administration, client liaison and public relations. The Small Homes Service was promoted by Marjorie through displays, design competitions, newspaper articles, radio talks, information booklets for libraries and schools, and by acting in an advisory role for home builders witha revised home builders handbook.
In 1959 she helped establish the first product display centre for building materials in the city. Joining in practice with her husband in 1969, their work including bank branches, office buildings, domestic buildings and institutional buildings the largest the Royal Society for the Blind Institute at Gilles Plains, built in the 1970s. Marjorie Simpson considered that their practice was ‘at the forefront of practicality in domestic work in South Australia’ using brick veneer and concrete slab floors. Marjorie Simpson retired in 1989.
Contributed by Pauline McDonough
Willis, Julie and Bronwyn Hanna Women Architects in Australia 1900-1950 Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Canberra, 2001
Chappel John ’Marjorie Simpson L.F.R.A.I.A.’ Architecture South Australia Royal Australian Institute of Architects (South Australian Chapter) 1993, p 4
Collins, Julie, ‘Marjorie Constance Simpson’, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2008, Architects of South Australia: http://www.architectsdatabase.unisa.edu.au/
Fellowship Citation, RAIA (South Australia Chapter) 1993
Obituary ‘Success in system designed for men’ Adelaide Advertiser 2003 1 March p 78