1929-2010 Bruce Rickard

It is the fact that I live in a Bruce Rickard house ( where my family and I have been for 11 years) that started my whole interest in Australian domestic architecture and those that created it.
My husband and I got to know Bruce and were part of an informal club which met, visited each others houses, and then had lunch with Bruce. It was a great opportunity to see his different projects, on different sites for different clients – but all with his use of natural materials and his use of space for communal use – and all with a deep connection to the natural landscape.

My family and I were part of his 80th birthday celebrations at a house he had built for himself at Cottage Point. It was a joyful, inclusive affair with all generations in attendance. Many of his children spoke, as Bruce himself did, in his quite considered and gently humorous way. The warmth of the occassion was unmistakable. When his son Sam let us know he was in hospital and dying it caused me to consider, and write down, what living in a house Bruce had designed meant to me. Much of it was to do with raising the children in the house – how it contributed to their appreciation of nature as the skies change and the southerlies blow in; how I have bought a day bed specifically to lie in the winter sun Bruce so cleverly arranged to pour into the house in winter. How my daughter (who loves the house and never wants to leave) and I look for patterns, faces and animals in the sandstock bricks. His influence has been profound as it was Bruce who ignited my interest in architecture and the two books that are a direct result of that interest. I was pleased that Sam got the opportunity to read the letter to his father before he died.

The house is built in a mixture of natural materials – sandstock brick, timber and glass and sits on a battle-axe block amongst the angophoras.

One of Rickards main concerns was the connection between indoors and out an so the house is designed to open up to the surrounding garden in summer and close up to be cosy and protective in winter.

2 comments on “1929-2010 Bruce Rickard

  1. Karen, you need some sort of Australian medal for dedication to and hopefully the preservation of and interest in Australian architecture from 1950-today. I am sure you have many sad memories of the ones that were demolished and disgusted at the replacements. To think a woman all the way for Ireland is responsible for waking us up. My grandfather was from Nothern Ireland and came to Australia round 1919, met and married my grandmother, they lived in Coolangatta Qld and I still pinch myself that the house they built in the early 1920’s still stands. Very rare in Qld. I grew up in Papua New Guinea and when I first saw Glen Murcutt’s work (way way back) I instantly was reminded of the donga’s up there.
    Surprise when I eventually found out that he was born there. I didn’t really dig school, especially catholic boarding school where I eventually was expelled for stashing romance comic books, the nuns thought I was a bad girl but I was just perving on the Eams style hand drawn furniture, plus the groovy gear the couple was wearing at the time, the lighting and the plants. Plus I had a bottle of Creme de Menthe because I adored the colour green and a packet of Virginia Slims, cause I was into golf and I figured if I was spotted with a packet of them I might get sponsored…… I have never smoked but try telling the nuns that. I returned home to Port Moresby as there was a high school there at that stage and an English teacher we had started talking about Australian history and people like the Architect Francis Greenway and the social activist Caroline Chisholm phew, for once my attention had been gained. I got your first great book when it first came out for Xmas present and now am lusting after the second one, I have a birthday in Feb, oh hang on, it’s Feb today. So I have the info on the fridge for my kids to seel
    Thank you again, and I miss the past editor of InsideOut mag, it’s not the same. sorry.

    • Dear Pamela -thanks so much for your message. It is funny isn’t it that sometimes it is easier for someone from a different culture to see things from a different perspective. I have really loved writing these two books as I have just learnt so much and it has given me the excuse to meet these amazing, and varied, Australian architects. I hope your kids managed to get the hint and buy you the second book. All the very best, Karen

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