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Bruce Rickard: A Life in Architecture

There are very few books that have been created with such love and attention to detail as this one, reflecting on the life of Bruce Rickard, Architect. Compiled and edited by Colleges and family posthumously, the work is one that holds many memories for a range of Australians who commissioned homes designed by Rickard, at a time when to do this was not altogether unusual, but also indicated that money was not an issue.

Post war Australia was finding its feet after the decimation of the previous years of war, with the Australian Government actively supporting development. The time was ripe to not only construct for the masses requiring housing, but for a more selective market.

Based in Sydney, Rickard, who grew up in the country, was to design more than 80 family homes around the North Shore and northern beaches of Sydney, along with a range of other projects from car washes, to drive in restaurants, churches and schools over his long career.

Marrying Mary Charley in 1954, the newlyweds sailed to England a week later, where he studied Landscape Design, then on to America where he took up a Fellowship in Landscape Architecture. Returning to Australia in 1957 he lectured at the University of Sydney and also began to establish his credentials as an Architect in a booming marketplace.

His love of the Australian bush was to become one of the trademarks of his designs in what was a very conservative housing market. Influenced by American Frank Lloyd Wright’s more organic designs, he developed his signature style of organic, open, environmentally relevant designs, at a time when red brick and tile ruled the streets of every capital city in Australia.

Considered as one of the most influential architects in Australia, up until the time of his death in 2010, Rickard set the standard for what is now commonplace in design and housing in modern Australia.

In the years immediately prior to his death, he realised that he needed to attempt to collate his cartons and cartons of designs and other papers into a book, but sadly failed to finish the task. His family realised the enormity of the undertaking when they were packing up his home, having to find some place to store the cartons, upon cartons of papers.

After moving them several times, rescuing them from flood waters, dirt and debris, son Sam Rickard realised something needed to be done; realised he would need support from people who could undertake the tasks required, and asked long time family friends Julie Cracknell and Peter Lonergan to help. More than a year later this tribute to a man who raised the standards for Architectural Design that is now a considered norm in Australia, was born.

Divided into thirteen sections, each one written and collated by people who either knew him personally or where influenced strongly by Rickards work and legacy, developed over a lifetime of doing what he loved best and enjoying what he did to the fullest extent.

A Catalogue Raisonne offers plans from his first design in 1953, the Sutton House at Wahroonga, to his last, Gunn House at Duffys Forrest in 2008. Let the User Speak is a lovely series of testaments from the many people who commissioned and lived in the Houses. Interviews and End Notes draws the book to a delightful conclusion.

Beginning with an Overview, following his life as a young man, then as a married man with a young family, to a man who was making his mark on Architecture, firstly in Sydney and then over a wider field, the work is full of family photographs, houses he designed, plans. In essence, it is the voice of Bruce Richards who even posthumously,has still so much information to impart to a  new generation of Architects looking to design buildings that will stand the test of time, become iconic in their relevance to society and set the benchmark for the future.

His work stands as statement to excellence in design, this book as a testament to the love, respect and honour this man held amongst his compatriots, the owners of the many homes he developed and the love of his family, proud of the man he was, the life he led and the example set and left behind for generations to come.

Bruce Rickard – a life in Architecture – a tribute to a man who refined to an artform the simplicity and ingenuity that can be created when designing buildings of great beauty, buildings which are organic, environmentally compatible, that reflect the inherent surroundings and indigenous nature of a country that is timeless in its ancient beauty.

“Maybe it is from camping in the bush – the intimacy or immediacy of the fire, the camp utensils, sleeping near each other – the dappled light and trees above. This is the type of thing I would somehow, like to capture in my architecture.” Bruce Rickard 1989.



Authoredited by Julie Cracknell, Peter Lonergan, Sam Rickard
PublisherNew South Publications
DistributorNew South Books
ReleasedDecember 2018