Architects thinking locally acting globally.

Brit Andresen – Profile

Professor Brit Andresen, University of Queensland, has been a central figure in bridging the gap between architectural education and practice. Brit Andresen is the first woman recipient of the RAIA Gold Medal and her work with partner Peter O’Gorman has been awarded and internationally published in publications such as the ‘Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture’. Brit studied architecture at Trondheim University Norway qualifying as Sivil Arkitekt in 1969. She has taught architecture at the University of Cambridge, England, the Architectural Association, London and the School of Architecture and Urban Planning UCLA (Master of Architecture Program). Before returning to Australia, she collaborated with Barry Gasson and John Meunier on the 1972 winning entry for the Burrell Museum in Glasgow, Scotland.

I am excited and relieved by this building. Its intelligence is almost palpable. The dogma of a good idea runs through the structure with all the lighthearted sincerity you find in great works of art.

“Designed just before the epoch-defining oil crisis of 1974, built during a recession ….. the Burrell … somehow manages to distill all of the conflicts of the age into a cool summation of possibilities – and still seems absolutely contemporary. I am excited and relieved by this building. Its intelligence is almost palpable. The dogma of a good idea runs through the structure with all the lighthearted sincerity you find in great works of art. It appears modern and ancient and feels like both a found object and a supreme fiction”. Patrick Lynch, ‘Epoch defining doesn’t have to polemical’, The Architects Journal, London, 13 November 2008.

“The RAIA Gold Medal for 2002 has been awarded to Brit Andresen in recognition of her outstanding achievements as an academic and design architect over a sustained period in Australia and overseas. Brit is recognised for her holistic commitment to an architectural vision through teaching and practice, as well her acknowledged expertise in areas such as the work of Alvar Aalto. As an educator, she continues to inspire a generation of students and graduates, particularly from the University of Queensland, to think deeply about their work. She has an international profile through lectures and teaching at various institutions, and has designed and built, in collaboration with her late husband Peter O’Gorman and other architects, some exquisite architectural projects of high quality and rich response. The 2002 Gold Medal honours Brit Andresen’s commitment to architecture, through teaching as well as personal design excellence, as distinguished service to the profession. This has brought an uplifting and investigative approach to design which has stimulated the minds of architecture students, many of whom have become established design leaders in their own right, and illustrates the great contribution an individual can bring to the discipline and the profession of architecture." RAIA Gold Medal 2002 Jury Chair, Graham Jahn, Architecture Australia, March/April, 2002.

The scope and depth of the work life of Brit Andresen would leave anyone a bit breathless.

“All of this teaching and research has had important influences on Andresen’s work as a practicing architect. Over the years Andresen O’Gorman Architects developed a refined architecture that celebrates dwelling in Queensland. Their work, primarily residential, is a meeting ground for the poetic and the pragmatic. The projects gently heighten the sense of being in a particular landscape and in a climate where one can merge outside and inside a great deal of the year. The site is always acutely observed, with topography and vegetation enlisted as architectural elements. These are integrated with the building to form a continuous set of paths and places in which to live the moments of life. The buildings have carefully orchestrated material palettes, which are often experimental and always finely crafted. In places, these materials are deployed in layers that can be adjusted to account for the demands of weather, privacy, and shade. The scope and depth of the work life of Brit Andresen would leave anyone a bit breathless. What marks all of it, without exception, is intelligence and rigour, thoroughness and care, and an abiding dedication to the importance of the role architecture plays in an ever more complicated world." Extract from a tribute to Brit Andresen by Lisa Findley, California College of the Arts and Crafts, San Francisco,Architecture Australia, March/April, 2002.

“Each of Brit Andresen and Peter O'Gorman’s designs is a piece of detailed research; a laboratory for three things: refining the use of Australian hardwood as a building material; the use of mathematical proportions and harmonic series as ordering devices and the constant search for an appropriate creation and definition of place. Binding it all is the notion of a poetics of construction, and of finding the right atmosphere or evocation for the site and client. To live in one of their houses is to live in a magical timber frame, half inside and half out, continually dappled with striated shade. They demonstrate a dexterous layering of screens and battens, with expressed timber construction. But the use of studied proportions, carefully orchestrated visual axes and adjustable transparency suggest that Andresen O’Gorman have provided a new way of sub-tropical living. Their belief in the aesthetic pleasure of an exposed timber frame is blended with a constant interest in placemaking. The result is a poetry of construction consonant with a poetry of dwelling. Their houses are located in and around Brisbane. They have designed and built over 20 years since 1984, and have become internationally recognised for their conceptual rigour, structural dexterity and aesthetic delight. The architecture is remarkably influential within Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and their houses symbolise a sub-tropical lifestyle." From advanced publicity for forthcoming publication -  ‘Andresen O’Gorman’, Pesaro Books, Sydney.

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