Glenn Murcutt Masterclass 2012

Desk crits where often more questions were raised than answered

Listening in on the final presentations with generous comments by the masters Brit Andersen, Glenn Murcutt, Peter Stuchbury, Richard Leplastrier and Karen.

Just got sent the above photos from my team member Isaac. We were both student helpers at the 2012 Glenn Murcutt masterclass in Sydney for a week in July. I learnt a great deal from the ‘masters’ – Glenn Murcutt, Richard Leplastrier, Peter Stutchbury, Lindsay Johnson and Brit Andersen as well as from the many architects who participated from all over the world. In my group we had architects representing Italy, India, Poland and Australia. It was great to see everyone working and being brought together by the one universal language of architecture. Some points I took back home with me include Peter’s talk one night where he talked about four key elements in his architecture: 1) Life + space, 2) connection, 3) Structure and 4) Mood. The fourth element really struck me as it is something that is the least tangible and can be constantly changing e.g. the light qualities that vary throughout the day changes the mood of a space. Peter, like the all the other masters, stress the importance of origins, of where things came from. We must trace back to the origins, including the origins of our thinking. When we embark on a project, the one key drawings, often known as a parti, that appeared at the beginning of the design process needs to be kept and constantly referred back to. Also how it’s important to start off with simplicity as elements can always be added to compliment later on. This is in line with music, say the music of JS Bach, where often a single melody is first introduced, then more melodies are added to harmonize to ultimately produce a more complex contrapuntal melody. Ornaments such as trills and the likes are also added in for effect. The masters also reminded us practical and obvious but often forgotten conventions in architecture such as always drawing the plan (horizontal section) with the context/landscape around it. Glenn’s talk was also very inspiring, it was more of a conversation rather than a talk where he talked freely about how he got into studying architecture starting from his childhood up until projects he is currently working on (including a mosque in Melbourne). I also appreciate the simplicity in his works. There are no grand gestures which begs for attention, but every project responds to the surrounding landscape with strength and delicacy. Perhaps his most honest advice to us was that architecture comprises of three things: EFFORT, LOVE and SUFFERING.

Site drawings by Marciek, love the simplicity of the pen work.

Sectional contour model near completion!


3 responses to “Glenn Murcutt Masterclass 2012

  1. A few years ago, I attended the Ozetecture Student Summer School, a similar experience I think to the Glenn Murcutt Masterclass but as the name suggests, aimed at students instead. It is held each year in the Pittwater, a large body of water about 1 hour north of Sydney. I spent most days outside, sketching and making models. Leplastrier, Stutchbury and Johnson run it, with a visit for final crits by Murcutt. I highly recommend it – I learnt a lot about a very meaningful philosophy for architecture.

    • I also attended the summer school early 2012 before moving to Melbourne for masters, it was a great and eye opening experience!I initially took it in hope to gain understanding of Australian architecture but it turned out to be more than that, more a mentality and way of thinking. As students we do question though how such values can be applied to the urban context,one not removed from he city in such pristine landscape, and also not just for well off clients.

      • This is a very good point. Murcutt, Leplastrier, Stutchbury et al have all established very particular careers with a focus on rural areas. I do think that their philosophies of seeking the essence of a thing, craftmanship in detail, and engagement with outdoor environments are still relevant in urban areas.

        I particularly liked the Aboriginal influence in their work: the idea that we can be part of the land rather than on it. It took me a while to get my head around this, but I think it means considering the influence of a building to extend far beyond its confines. The house is just a more sheltered, enclosed part of a broader landscape. This idea still resonates in the city, doesn’t it?

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