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.


During my research for the book I came across, and fell in love with, the work of Tasmanian architect Michael Viney. In the words of Gerard Reinmuth, an advocate of the work his mentor, Viney, ‘ fused a commitment to Corbusian modernism with Japanese spatial techniques, geomancy and a particular reading of the Tasmanian landscapes, resulting in a suite of exemplary works anchored in his heightened spatial intelligence’. Pictured here is the ‘Viney House’ (1975-77) which he designed for his family on a Hobart hillside and is now placed on the Australian Institute of Architects register of Nationally Significant Twentieth Century Architecture. Viney studied sculpture with Peter Taylor and the sculptural qualities are very evident in the work. The façade of the Viney House sees the influence of American architects such as Richard Meier but remains site specific with the landscape acting as a guiding principle.

Access to the house is via a raised walkway.

The spare furnishings in the interior space concentrate the mind on the landscape beyond and Viney was highly tuned to the relationship between the two. “Architecture is created from the inside out – from space to form, they are integral to, and inform each other to resolution’.

The Viney House appeared as a hero feature in Architecture Australia magazine at a time when it was hard for Tasmanian architects to get national coverage of their work. RMIT Professor Richard Blythe notes, ‘Viney’s work stands out because of his ability to take a cosmopolitan view, to be concerned with the particularity of place, of the relation between a subject and the landscape beyond the immediate site while resisting the sentimentality of a regionalist approach’. Shown here is the glazed southern wall facing the surrounding bush.