Medallion and box, Robin Boyd Award, awarded to architect Glenn Murcutt, metal [cupro-nickel] / cloth, Royal Australian Mint, Australia, [1990-1997]
The Robin Boyd Award for Residential Buildings is awarded annually by the Australian chapter of the Australian Institute of Archtiects. According to the AIA 'it is Australia¬?s most prestigious annual architectural residential housing award. It is awarded to houses that set new benchmarks in terms of meeting the client¬?s needs, responding to its site, and providing shelter which is at the leading edge of house design'.
Glenn Murcutt has won this award twice: in 1981 for Two farmhouses at Mount Irvine, NSW and in 1985 for Magney House, NSW South Coast, NSW. He was commended by the award jury in 1992 for the Magney House, Paddington, NSW.
Royal Australian Mint, Canberra
Glenn Murcutt (b.1936) was born in London but spent his young childhood in the Morobe district of New Guinea where his father managed a gold mine. His father Sam Murcutt introduced him to the architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the philosophies of Henry David Thoreau, both of which influenced his architectural ideas. From 1956 Murcutt studied architecture at the University of New South Wales and worked with several architects including Neville Gruzman. After graduating in 1961 Murcutt travelled for two years, returning in 1964 to work in the office of Ancher, Mortlock, Murray and Woolley.
In 1969 Murcutt established his own practice at Mosman, Sydney. Initially he struggled to find work, producing just three houses during the 1970s as well as numerous renovations and extensions. One of these was the Berowra Waters Inn where from 1976 Murcutt redesigned a 1930s teahouse for young chefs Tony and Gay Bilson; the result was a standout marriage of design and culinary art that confirmed the talents of Murcutt and the Bilsons.
This initial exploratory phase saw Murcutt establish a mastery of the Miesian style. His prolific second phase was more regional in nature. Using a mixture of pragmatism and lyricism, Murcutt creates simple houses that resemble open verandas. He is admired locally and internationally for creating an identifiably Australian idiom in domestic architecture. In addition Murcutt's domestic focus and small practice contrasts with the corporate character of contemporary architecture although it also restricts the scope and impact of his work. Regardless, Murcutt and his numerous admirers are content with his embodiment of the architect as craftsman and visionary.
Glenn Murcutt's work has won several Australian awards as well as the Alvar Alto Medal (1992) and the Pritzker Prize (2002).
Charles Pickett, Curator Design and built environment.