Architectural model, Aboriginal Alcoholic Rehabilitation Centre, polystyrene / metal / wood / plastic, designed by Glenn Murcutt, Australia, 1983-85
Glenn Murcutt's design was intended for the Aboriginal Alcoholic Rehabilitation Centre at Kinchela Creek near Kempsey, northern NSW. The design process involved intense dialogue between Murcutt and Centre staff and clients. The design consists of several dispersed small buildings with a variety of planned functions. The largest buildings are the two reception and communal services buildings joined by a common gallery at the entrance.
The smaller residential structures are dispersed along four ridges running east from the main buildings. These buildings all gain a northerly aspect and are designed as long houses with living and work spaces. These buildings are grouped to segregate residents into social groups including young single men, older men, single mothers with children, couples etc. Pathways connect each group of houses and the main centre. The relationships between these groups is carefully considered to facilitate social interaction on the assumption that alcoholism is a community problem and is best addressed via community rather than individual isolation and treatment. Murcutt's design gives form to this ideal of a caring community.
Charles Pickett, Curator, Design and built environment.
Designed by Glenn Murcutt
Made by Reginald Lark, architect
Date provided by Glenn Murcutt
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 Arthur Murcutt introduced him to the architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and to carpentry and building, building houses for his family and others at Sydney's northern beaches during the 1940s. 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 proclaimed the talents of Murcutt and the Bilsons.
This 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.
This project was designed to replace existing buildings at the Aboriginal Alcoholic Rehabilitation Centre at Kinchela Creek near Kempsey, northern NSW. Murcutt was invited to design a new purpose-built home for the Centre; its managers were familiar with Murcutt's designs for the Kempsey museum and tourist centre.
The new Centre was to be funded by the local Council with financial assistance from the NSW and Australian governments; however the latter governments refused funding and the project did not proceed.