The Timeless Land

I arrived in Australia in the antipodean spring of 1969 and left for California eleven years later. I have not been back, comfortably living with memories of that country as it was in my youth, rather than up-dating them to the globalized, asian inflected country it now is.

Eleanor Dark wrote a novel of Australia called The Timeless Land (Collins, London 1941), but for me, Australia will be forever the 1970's. You may remember that this decade was,

"....... the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope.....

But most of all it was the age of Disco. For me, it was also a decade of surfing, and as the 70's began to wane, an age of enlightenment. Sometime in the middle 1970's I became aware of Glenn Murcutt's Terry Hills house. And then I went to Architecture School.

This was the beginning of Murcutt's epochal work. I rode by the house, quite regularly, on my motorcycle, on the way to work. It was not by the side of the road, but you could see it from the road, sometimes with its roof top pond sparkling in the sun. Basically, it was off in the bush, asking for trouble. It was at the urban wildland interface before there was such a thing. But in many respects it came prepared. Murcutt eschewed wood and built a Miesian pavilion of steel and glass. It came with the roof top pool and a broad surround of brick at the ground plane.

Thirty five years later, Lorrie and I built a house that attempted to respond to many of the same environmental imperatives that influence Murcutt, who quickly moved beyond Mies and adopted an aesthetic that was more responsive to energy considerations. In 2002 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize and in 2009, the AIA Gold Medal.

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