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Mythical Murcutt; Glenn Murcutt: Buildings + Projects 1962-2003.


By Francoise Fromonot. London: Thames & Hudson. 2003. [pounds sterling]39.95


Francoise Fromonot begins her book with the staggering fact that during his 30 years of practice Glenn Murcutt has built more than 500 houses in Australia. That, alone, encapsulates much about the architect--the extraordinarily energetic work-ethic of a man who has insisted, during all of that time, on operating almost always as a sole-practitioner, taking full responsibility for every job and every detail--a man at his drawing-board in the corner of an untidy suburban Sydney semi-detached house (Fromonot writes, 'It comes as a surprise to discover that his limpid architecture is designed in such a shambles'); and it draws attention to the fact that despite his international reputation and innumerable overtures from prospective overseas clients, Murcutt refuses to work outside his homeland, where his architecture originates in, and exists in resonance with, the physical, climatic, and cultural context.

This book is described by Fromonot as a 'new edition' of her earlier work on Murcutt, published in 1995, although it is more accurately considered as a new book. Ten new buildings and projects (some previously unpublished anywhere) are added to the 23 in the original book, her introductory text is recast as a more detailed investigation of Murcutt's working methods, and the larger format permits the re-presenting of the older projects with more and better illustrations and expanded texts. Fromonot's earlier, smaller, more monochrome version opened the world's eyes to Murcutt, and it is entirely appropriate that she, and Thames and Hudson who committed to publishing her earlier book when Murcutt was far less bankable in publishing terms, should have the right to produce this definitive work.

Fromonot writes with fluid ease, wit, intelligence and insight, the illustrations are superb, and the design of the pages is exquisite (although the miniature typeface touches the page rather too lightly for easy legibility). It is a lovely thing, which sets the standard for excellence in architectural publishing. The work and ideas explained within its covers remind us that architecture can have integrity and purpose, not only form. Like Murcutt's lectures, the book leaves us slightly chastened for our laxity, but inspired, optimistic about the possibilities of architecture, and with a smile on our face. Priceless lessons. Essential reading.

Book reviews from this and recent issues of The Architectural Review can now be seen on our website at and the books can be ordered online, many at special discount.
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Title Annotation:Reviews
Author:Heneghan, Tom
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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