Glenn Murcutt, or the luxury of Time

Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Center, West Cambewarra (New South Wales) © Anthony Browell

Browsing through paramount huts and other minimalist architectures projected these past few years, we could not help but think back at when we were architecture students, and how Glenn Murcutt’s architecture and philosophy scarred us for life—one of those scars you cherish and are proud to exhibit.

© Anthony Browell

The first amongst Australian architects to have an international reputation, he is the representative of an “ecological functionalism” that he helped to forge. But it is especially one of those rare architects who, even today, pretends to the necessity of taking his time: time to observe the environment that will nurture his architectures in order to detect its tiniest climatic secrets, and to make sure his buildings will be as appropriate as possible, respectful of the men and the Earth that welcomes them.

Magney House, Bingie Point, New South Wales © Anthony Browell

He is also an erudite, musician and passionate man with a great sense of humour who, during an interview with Australian radio ABC, shared a rather funny anecdote about how he became such a great observant of nature. As a child, his family happened to live in a region inhabited by a cannibal tribe whose members actually killed and ate a neighbour of his parents! Because his father was an excellent boxer, he had managed to intimidate the chief of the tribe in question so that his family could be “preserved”, but, just to be precautious, he had taught Glenn to be extremely careful when wondering around. To observe nature with all his senses and neglect nothing: not the unusual change of temperature, not a new smell, not the sound of leaves as they brushed together, nor a “new” bush or an unusual flower, not the disappearance of a tree … It was a question of life or death.

Marika-Alderton House, Eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory © Glenn Murcutt

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