the Glenn Murcutt way


Build your house the Glenn Murcutt way

1. Use Simple Materials

Forget the polished marble, imported tropical wood, and costly brass and pewter. A Glenn Murcutt home is unpretentious, comfortable, and economical. He uses inexpensive materials that are readily available in his native Australian landscape. Notice, for example, Murcutt’s Marie Short House. The roof is corrugated metal, the window louvres are enameled steel, and the walls are timber from a nearby sawmill.

2. Touch the Earth Lightly

Glenn Murcutt is fond of quoting the Aboriginal proverb touch the earth lightly because it expresses his concern for nature. Building in the Murcutt way means taking special measures to safeguard the surrounding landscape. Nestled in an arid Australian forest, Murcutt’s Ball-Eastaway House hovers above the earth on steel stilts. Because there is no deep excavation, the dry soil and surrounding trees are protected.

3. Follow the Sun

Prized for their energy efficiency, Glenn Murcutt’s houses capitalize on natural light. Their shape is long and low, and they often feature verandahs, skylights, adjustable louvres, and moveable screens. Notice the linear form and expansive windows of Murcutt’s Magney House. Stretching across a barren, wind-swept site overlooking the ocean, the home is designed to capture the sun.

4. Listen to the Wind

Even in the hot, tropical climate of Australia’s Northern Territory, houses by Glenn Murcutt do not need air conditioning. Ingenious systems for ventilation assure that cooling breezes circulate through open rooms. At the same time, these houses are insulated from the heat and protected from strong cyclone winds. Murcutt’s Marika-Alderton House is often compared to a plant because the walls open and close like petals and leaves.

5. Learn More

Every landscape creates different needs. Unless you live in Australia, you are not likely to build a house that duplicates a Glenn Murcutt design. You can, however, adapt his concepts to any climate or topography. The best way to learn about Glenn Murcutt is to read his own words. In the slim paperback Touch This Earth Lightly, Murcutt discusses his life and describes how he developed his philosophies.

Glenn Murcutt is a modernist, a naturalist, an environmentalist, a humanist, an economist and ecologist encompassing all of these distinguished qualities in his practice as a dedicated architect who works alone from concept to realization of his projects in his native Australia. Although his works have sometimes been described as a synthesis of Mies van der Rohe and the native Australian wool shed,….

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