Page N4.2 . 08 May 2002                     
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    Glenn Murcutt Pritzker Prize

    continued

    Murcutt prefers houses over large-scale projects because doing many smaller works and working primarily alone provides him with more opportunities to experiment with wind patterns, materials, light, climate, spaces, and the characteristics of the site.

    In the foreword to Leaves of Iron: Glenn Murcutt: Pioneer of an Australian Architectural Form, he wrote: "Landscape in Australia is remarkable. I have learned much from scrutinizing the land and its flora. There is an overriding horizontality. The flora is tough. It is in addition, durable, hardy and yet supremely delicate. It is so light at its edges that its connection with the deep sky vault is unsurpassed anywhere. The sunlight is so intense for most of the continent that it separates and isolates objects. My architecture has attempted to convey something of the discrete character of elements in the Australian landscape, to offer my interpretation in built form."

    Murcutt selects materials that have consumed as little energy as possible in their manufacture, and will consume as little as possible in the operation of the house. The houses respond to all manner of climatic conditions; in most cases they function without air conditioning or heating other than a fireplace.

    This requires controlling sunlight penetration and manipulating the breezes at various times of the year and the day. He uses adjustable, exterior metal storm blinds to keep the sun's heat out and maintain privacy but allow air movement.

    He also varies roof pitch according to a region's latitude and climate. In some areas, he overlaps layers of roof to promote natural ventilation. Murcutt says, "A building should be able to open up and say, 'I am alive and looking after my people,' or instead, 'I'm closed now, and I'm looking after my people as well.' This to me is the real issue, buildings should respond. They should open and close and modify and re-modify, and blinds should turn and open and close, open a little bit without complication. That is a part of architecture for me; all this makes a building live."

    Juror Jorge Silvetti observes: "The architecture of Glenn Murcutt surprises first, and engages immediately after because of its absolute clarity and precise simplicity — a type of clarity that soon proves to be neither simplistic nor complacent, but inspiringly dense, energizing, and optimistic. His architecture is crisp, marked, and impregnated by the unique landscape and by the light that defines the fabulous, far away, and gigantic mass of land that is his home, Australia."

    The Pritzker Prize

    The purpose of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture. Murcutt is the first Australian to become a Pritzker Laureate, and the 26th honoree since the prize was established in 1979.

    Past Pritzker laureates include Luis Barragán of Mexico, James Stirling of Great Britain, I.M. Pei of the United States, Fumihiko Maki of Japan, Renzo Piano of Italy, and 20 others.

    The formal presentation of what has come to be known unofficially as "the Nobel Prize for Architecture" will be made at a ceremony on May 29, 2002 at the Campidoglio of Michelangelo in Rome.

    The Pritzker Prize jury consists of chairman, J. Carter Brown, director emeritus of the National Gallery of Art, and chairman of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts; Giovanni Agnelli, chairman emeritus of Fiat from Torino, Italy; Ada Louise Huxtable, author and architectural critic of New York; Carlos Jimenez, professor at Rice University School of Architecture, and principal, Carlos Jimenez Studio in Houston, Texas; Jorge Silvetti, chairman of the Department of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Lord Rothschild, former chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund of Great Britain and former chairman of that country's National Gallery; and Bill Lacy, executive director of the Pritzker Prize.

     

    AW

    ArchWeek Image

    The Simpson-Lee House by Australian Glenn Murcutt, 2002 Pritzker Prize Laureate.
    Photo: Glenn Murcutt

    ArchWeek Image

    Sketch of the Simpson-Lee House.
    Image: Glenn Murcutt

    ArchWeek Image

    The Marie Short farm house illustrates Murcutt's passion for fitting the architecture to the site.
    Photo: Glenn Murcutt

    ArchWeek Image

    The Marie Short house teaches that anything less than a fully opening wall is inadequate in the climate of New South Wales.
    Photo: Glenn Murcutt

    ArchWeek Image

    The Marie Short house is "delightfully temperate," even on the hottest days."
    Photo: Glenn Murcutt

    ArchWeek Image

    The Done House in Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
    Photo: Reiner Blunck

    ArchWeek Image

    The Done House designed by Glenn Murcutt.
    Photo: Reiner Blunck

    ArchWeek Image

    The Done House.
    Photo: Glenn Murcutt

     

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