Glenn Murcutt

Glenn Marcus Murcutt AO (born 25 July 1936 in London) is an Australian architect. He was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2002.


Glenn Murcutt was born in London in 1936 during a trip to Europe by his Australian parents. In 1936-41 he lived in Papua New Guinea, after which he returned to Sydney with his parents. He studied at the Technical College of the University of New South Wales from 1956-61 and has had his own architectural practice in Sydney since 1969. In 1973 he travelled extensively in Mexico, the USA and Europe. Murcutt is an architecture professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and is in demand as a visiting professor all over the world.

In 2002, he received the Hero for the Green Century award from Time magazine (as the founder of zero-emission building design). Glenn Murcutt deliberately designs only private homes and cultural buildings, not high-rise buildings. He also only builds in his native Australia.

Extended Biography

The son of Sydney Arthur Murcutt, a boxer, gold prospector and property developer, and Daphne Jean Powys, a descendant of the Welsh writer and philosopher John Cowper Powys, Glenn Murcutt was born in London while his parents, who lived in New Guinea, were on their way to the Olympic Games in Berlin. He spent the first five years of his life in a remote New Guinea valley where his father was prospecting for gold. The Murcutts were the only Westerners within 15 km of each other, living among the aboriginal population in the rainforest. From this childhood in a hostile natural environment, Murcutt developed his sensory acuity. Since then, he has considered his sense of observation to be one of his most useful architectural tools. In July 1941 he moved with his mother to Manly on Sydney Harbour, near Mosman, where he still works and resides today. His father joined them a few months later in September. Glenn Murcutt was familiar with construction from his youth, as his father built his first houses in Sydney in 1944, where he owned a carpentry business. From 1943 to 1949 he attended Balgowlah Public School and from 1950 to 1955 Manly High School for Boys where he played on the water polo, swimming and football teams. In 1951, his father showed him the article on the Farnsworth House in the October issue of Architectural Forum, to which he subscribed. His father made him read the article several times and asked him to explain what was so extraordinary about the house. It is clear that his encounter with this house, while still a teenager, would have a profound effect on Murcutt's career. However, the influence of his father's teachings and personality should not be underestimated. Indeed, his father saw in it the incarnation of Henry David Thoreau's Walden, and it is indeed a whole philosophy of life that he perceived in this house of Mies van der Rohe and that he tried, successfully, to transmit to his son. In addition, he owes his father's extensive knowledge of agricultural sheds made of sheet metal and wood and their prefabrication techniques, as well as his heightened awareness of the relationship between fauna, flora, geography and climate.

From 1956 to 1961, the young Glenn studied architecture part-time at Sydney Technical College of the University of New South Wales, graduating on 31 December 1961. During his studies he worked for Neville Guzman (1956 and 1958-59), Levido & Baker (1956-57), and John Allen & Russel Jack (1960-January 1962) while doing his military service with the RAAF at Point Cook. His parents separated in 1956. He himself married Helen Kay in 1962, with whom he had three children before divorcing in 1979.

In 1962 he first worked as an architect for Kevin J. Curtin & Partners before moving temporarily to London where he worked for Ian Fraser and Partners from September 1962 to December 1964. He took the opportunity to visit Europe, travelling successively to Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy and France from September to December 1963 and then to Poland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland from August to December 1964. At the end of 1964, he returned to Sydney where he worked with the Ancher, Mortlock, Murray & Wooley agency until the end of 1969. His father Arthur died on 28 January 1968.

In 1969, he opened his own architectural practice, where he worked alone, without an assistant. Unoccupied, he spent the first six months of his practice poring over material suppliers' catalogues to design simple, elegant details from standard parts. Simultaneously, from 1970 to 1978, he held a position as a tutor at the University of Sydney. From 1970 to 1973 he built a small number of houses that closely resembled his model Farnsworth House. The most obvious example is the extension to his own house for which he won a prize in 1972.

With this award, he visited Mexico, the United States, France, Spain, Italy and Greece from September to December 1973. He had also planned to visit Chile but the events of September prevented him from doing so. This trip marked a fundamental turning point in Murcutt's career, as it was there that he questioned the model he had been applying for several years, which he had now mastered perfectly but whose limits now appeared to him. Indeed, during this trip, a certain number of visits (Walden Pond, the Chareau house, vernacular architecture in Greece...) and meetings (Craig Ellwood, José Cordech...) made him aware of the unsuitability of his model for climatic variations and the relevance of his idea of transposing building elements into architectural language (Chareau house). Upon his return, he reinjected his new thoughts into his work, which resulted in the Marie Short house. This house prefigured the rest of Murcutt's work. Indeed, it is here that, for the first time, he superimposes on his very rigorous and static Miesian model a skin that allows the dynamic flow of air, light, sound and, above all, heat through the façades to be regulated. It is on this duality, which reaches its climax in the Simpson-Lee house, delivered in 1994 after six years of work, that his entire work is based.

Since the beginning of his career, and only in Australia, he has built 500 original houses, museums and cultural centres, for which he has won numerous awards from the Royal Institute of Australian Architects. His work has been shown at the Paris Biennials of Architecture in 1986 and Venice in 1991 and 1996. At the same time, he has lectured in many cities around the world (London 1985, Mexico 1987, New York 1988 and 1991, Auckland 1988, Bougainsville 1988, Copenhagen 1989, Oslo 1989, Trondheim 1989, Helsinki 1989, Milan 1989...). In 1992, he received the Alvar Aalto Medal and in 2002, the Pritzker Prize for his original career and visionary architecture. This is the first time that an Australian architect has received this award, although they are not well known internationally. Glenn Murcutt has inspired a generation of Australians with his extraordinary architecture.

Françoise Fromonot presents his work and some of his habits, such as his GSA break, in a beautiful book published by Gallimard in 2003, which won the 2004 Architecture Book Prize.

Important Buildings


  • 1968: Glenn Murcutt House
  • 1969: Douglas Murcutt House (his brother)


  • 1972-74 : Laurie Short House, Sydney
  • 1974-75 : Marie Short House, Kempsey
  • 1976-83 : Berowra Waters Inn, Berowra Waters
  • 1977-78: Ockens House, Cromer
  • 1977-80 : Nicholas House, Mount Irvine
  • 1977-80 : Carruthers House, Mount Irvine


  • 1982 : Kempsey Visitor Information Centre
  • 1981-83 : Ball-Eastaway House, Glenorie, Sydney
  • 1976-88 : Museum of Local History and Tourist Office, Kempsey
  • 1981-82 : Fredericks House, Jamberoo
  • 1982-84 : Magney House, Bingie Bingie
  • 1983-94 : Pratt House
  • 1986-90 : Magney House, Paddington, Sydney
  • 1988-91 : Done House, Sydney
  • 1988-92 : Meagher House, Bowral
  • 1989-94: Simpson-Lee House


  • 1992 : Raheen (Pratt Family Wing Addition), Kew
  • 1989-94 : Simpson-Lee House, Mount Wilson
  • 1991-94 : Marika-Alderton House, Yirrkala Community, Eastern Arnhem Land (Northern Territory)
  • 1992 : Murcutt Guest Studio, Kempsey
  • 1992-94 : Bowali Visitor Information Centre, Kakadu National Park, in samenwerking met Troppo Architects
  • 1994-96 : Schnaxl House, Newport
  • 1996-98 : Fletcher-Page House, Kangaroo Valley
  • 1995-96 : Douglas and Ruth Murcutt House, Woodside
  • 1996-99 : Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Art Centre, Riversdale, West Cambewarra
  • 1997-2001 : House at Kangaloon, Southern Highlands


  • 2000-03 : Murcutt/Lewin House and Studio, Mosman
  • 2001-05 : Walsh House, Kangaroo Valley
  • 2002-03 : Lerida Estate Winery, Lake George
  • 2006-07 : Moss Vale Education Centre (University of Wollongong), Moss Vale, in samenwerking met Wendy Lewin
  • 2006-16 : Australian Islamic Centre / Mosque, Newport (Victoria)


  • 2019: MPavilion, Melbourne


  • 12 awards of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects
  • Alvar Aalto Medal (1992)
  • Officer of the Order of Australia
  • Several times participation in the Biennale
  • Pritzker Prize (2002)
  • TIME magazine named him one of five Heroes for the Green Century in 2002.
  • Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2008)


  • Françoise Fromonot, Glenn Murcutt - projets et réalisations 1962-2002, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Livre d'Art", 9 October 2003, 324 p. (ISBN 2-07-011762-6) Architecture Book Prize 2004.
  • Philip Drew, Leaves of iron; Glenn Murcutt: Pioneer of Australian architectural form, Sydney, 1985
  • E. M. Farelly, Three houses, Glenn Murcutt, London, Phaidon, 1993


Visit our media section for a complete overview.


Critical Regionalism
Glenn Murcutt
International Style
Kenneth Frampton


DeepDove: Style Network (2021-09-21). Critical Regionalism | Glenn Murcutt. Retrieved , from




This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.