Monthly Archives: April 2013

Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards

The Institute’s inaugural Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards were held on 18 March at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. The “people-based” awards event was led by the Gold Medal and included the presentation of the Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize, the Bluescope Glenn Murcutt Student Prize, the Dulux Study Tour winner, the Colorbond Student Biennale winner, the Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture and a new award, the Leadership in Sustainability Prize.


Kerry and Lindsay Clare. Portrait by George Fetting.
Kerry and Lindsay Clare. Portrait by George Fetting.

Lindsay and Kerry Clare are this year’s Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medallists. We present a tribute with essays by Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper, Elizabeth Watson-Brown and Peter Mould and testimonials from Kenneth Frampton, Michael Bryce and Paul Thomas

Jury Citation 
The Gold Medal is the Australian Institute of Architects’ highest accolade. It recognizes distinguished service by Australian architects who have designed or executed buildings of high merit, produced work of great distinction resulting in the advancement of architecture, or endowed the profession of architecture in a distinguished manner.

Lindsay and Kerry Clare have made an enormous contribution to the advancement of architecture and particularly sustainable architecture, with a strongly held belief that good design and sustainable design are intrinsically linked.Since starting practice in 1979, Kerry and Lindsay were key to pioneering the regional style associated with the Sunshine Coast. They are widely regarded for projects that display contextual sensitivity, clarity of design and environmentally sustainable principles.

Their projects have won prestigious awards, including twenty-eight state and national awards from the Australian Institute of Architects for housing, public, educational, commercial and recycling projects.

In the late nineties, Lindsay and Kerry left their office on the Sunshine Coast, and joined the New South Wales Government Architect’s Office as Design Directors. In two years they achieved many design successes in urban contexts and made an impact with buildings such as the No. 1 Fire Station in Sydney City. Since that time they have been founding design directors with Architectus. Here they have produced a highly significant cultural building, winning the design competition (with James Jones) for the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Brisbane.

Major awards include the 2008 AIA Queensland Public Architecture Award for the University of Sunshine Coast Chancellery, the 2007 RAIA National Public Architecture Award for GoMA and the RAIA Robin Boyd Award in 1992 and 1995. The recently presented 25 Year Award for Enduring Architecture (Queensland State Awards) for the White Residence, designed while in practice with Ian Mitchell, is a testament to the quality and longevity of their work.

The essence of the Clare design philosophy comes through in the GoMA, where simplicity, light and spatial qualities combine to produce a building of timeless elegance, which will serve the public well into the future.

Kerry and Lindsay Clare are highly respected and contributing members of the architectural profession. They have been actively associated with the Institute, participating on a number of committees. Kerry was also a national awards juror in 1999 and 2004, and a national councillor from 2000 to 2002. Lindsay was a national awards juror in 1996.They have always been willing to give time to furthering architectural education and were Adjunct Professors to the Faculty of Architecture, University of Sydney from 1998 to 2005. Kerry is a member of the City of Sydney Design Advisory Panel, providing advice on public and private developments to maintain high standards of urban design. She also serves on the Design Review Panel (SEPP 65) for Randwick and Waverley Councils, where she assists in the review of development applications, assessing their contribution to urban design, environmental, social and aesthetic issues.

Their great body of work demonstrates an appropriate environmental response, developing the concepts of efficient low-energy, sustainable solutions decades before legislation made it mandatory. Their Cotton Tree social housing project was selected as one of ten worldwide for inclusion in Ten Shades of Green in New York: an exhibition demonstrating architectural excellence and environmental sensibility organized by the Architectural League of New York. In 1996, this project received the RAIA Multiple Housing Award and the National Environment Citation. In 2001 they received the Energy Efficiency Award from the Urban Development Institute of Australia for the National Environment Centre. In 2009, the University of the Sunshine Coast Chancellery received the Institute’s Harry S. Marks Award for Sustainable Design.

Their work has been included in over 150 national and international books, periodicals and publications. They have been exhibited widely – in New York, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and in the 1991 and 2008 Venice Biennale, the1996 Milan Triennale and the 1996 UIA Congress Barcelona. The Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane is included in the Phaidon Atlas of Twenty-First Century World Architecture.The Clares’ work is extensively featured in a new book, Architectus: Between Order and Opportunity by Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper.

The Australian Institute of Architects recognizes and honours Kerry and Lindsay Clare as the 2010 recipients of the Gold Medal.


2010 Gold Medal jury


Melinda Dodson (chair), Howard Tanner, Adjunct Professor Ken Maher, Sue Phillips, Professor Gordon Holden.

Making existence meaningful

Thrupp and Summers House, 1986–87, as rephotographed by John Gollings in 2008.
Thrupp and Summers House, 1986–87, as rephotographed by John Gollings in 2008.
Thrupp and Summers House, 1986–87, as rephotographed by John Gollings in 2008.
Thrupp and Summers House, 1986–87, as rephotographed by John Gollings in 2008.
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. Photograph John Gollings.
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. Photograph John Gollings.


Lindsay Clare was born in Brisbane in 1952. He enrolled in quantity surveying at the Queensland Institute of Technology (QIT) and completed four years of the course before deciding to transfer into the Diploma of Architecture program. As a part-time architecture student, he worked on the Queensland Sunshine Coast in the office of Gabriel Poole, where he met his future wife and partner, Kerry Clare.

Kerry Clare was born in Sydney in 1957; her father was an industrial pattern maker, mechanic, inventor and owner of a Sydney Citroën dealership. As a teenager she lived in pre-Cyclone-Tracy Darwin, before enrolling in the part-time architecture course at QIT.

Lindsay Clare grew up sleeping on the verandah of a vernacular Queenslander house. During her teens, Kerry Clare lived in Darwin in a standard government house with entire walls of louvres designed to ameliorate the tropical climate without airconditioning. These childhood experiences of how to adapt houses to the climate were reinforced during their apprenticeship to Gabriel Poole.

In 1979, after working with Poole for almost five years, they established a practice (later to be called Clare Design) on the Sunshine Coast. Their early work was mainly residential and small commercial and institutional projects. With ten architectural citations and commendations during the first ten years of practice, they quickly earned a reputation for elegant and constructively expressive lightweight houses with interiors bathed in natural light and cooled by natural ventilation.

During the mid-1980s, the Goetz House (1984–85) and Thrupp and Summers House (1986–87) brought national recognition. The houses are significant milestones on the Clares’ path to aesthetic consistency and formal clarity. Of the Goetz house, Professor Michael Keniger says, “Despite being modest in size, this small house demonstrates a startling clarity of resolution and responds directly to the imperatives of place-making. Here, the enclosure of dwelling is stripped back to spaces directly derived from the two analogical sources of ‘cave’ and ‘bower’ … Within there is an almost obsessive rigour to the separation of served space from service space, and enclosed space from open … [An east–west] backbone is provided by the axial gallery. To the south [of it] are the ‘caves’ of fair-faced blockwork housing utilities … On the north are the ‘bowers’ of stick and panel, of glass and [flywire] mesh that shelter the living and sleeping spaces.”1 In 2008 John Gollings photographed the Thrupp and Summers house. His pictures capture the essence of the Clares’ contemporary modernism. The house is so lightweight that it seems to float in its bush setting. To the keen eye, the structure is rational and legible, yet its presence is recessive, an almost subliminal pattern, enough to suggest an order and rhythm that establish scale and proportion, depth and dimension. The interior is a light-filled volume composed from a limited palette of honey-coloured natural timber and fair-faced concrete blockwork set against a background of surfaces reduced to white planes washed by natural light. The long north-eastern wall of continuous full-height glass louvres dissolves the barrier between inside and out: house as abstracted verandah. The coolness of the Queensland verandah and a sense of cross-ventilating breezes, typical of the Clares’ architecture, are almost palpable in Gollings’ images. Looking at them, you would assume this house to be the very latest demonstration in a long line of elegant subtropical coastal houses designed by the Clares. But while Gollings photographed the house in 2008, it was actually designed and built more than twenty years before – and could have been designed by the Clares at any time over the past twenty years.

The Clares’ work attains timelessness. The architects eschew those popular architectural gestures that unerringly date so many contemporary buildings. Their approach to architecture is guided by a set of commonsense rules of thumb: buildings must respond to the climate and topography of a place; legibility is desirable and best achieved with simple forms sheltering, ideally, under a big roof; and the finishes of materials, the manner of their fixings and the junctions between them should express their inherent nature. For more than thirty years, the Clares have applied this approach.

In 1991 their McWilliam House (1989–90) was shown at the Venice Biennale. In 1992 their own Buderim House (1990–91) won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) Robin Boyd (National) Award for houses – as did the Hammond Residence (1993–94) in 1995. Between 1982 and 1997, the Clares also won the RAIA Robin Dods (Queensland House of the Year) Award an unequalled six times.

The Clares designed their own house as an experimental speculative development, a prototype for “a low-cost alternative to the fully tailor-made house”. Peter Hyatt describes it as follows: “To achieve low construction costs, the structure … [is] a two-storey timber box, framed and braced by plywood ‘fin’ walls along the perimeter. These fins form alcoves … useful areas for entry, storage or work [benches] … No internal walls are required for bracing or load bearing … The house [has] a loose-fit skeletal structure that can be clad and subdivided according to site, program and material preference.”2 Structurally, the house is a timber box. Formally, it is a tin box, but one with multiple readings that combine to give the whole an air of lightness. The roof, no more than a thin plane of corrugated iron, appears to have been draped over the top of this box and anchored by sculptural downpipes; the long sides, slightly thicker planes of corrugated iron, are not so much attached to the box as propped up against it; and at either end, brightly painted cement sheet boxes read as the ends of a longer but smaller box protruding from the larger box. At each end, the dark painted wall surfaces between these two boxes, and between them and the roof, can also be read as void. The apparent fly-away layered lightness of the whole is further reinforced by the floating planes of corrugated iron that form the roofs over the terraces and the carport.

Two works of the early 1990s added to their repertoire of innovative typologies for subtropical housing and low-impact environmental design: Rainbow Shores (1990–92) and Cotton Tree Pilot Housing Project (1992–95), which won the national RAIA Environment Citation (1996). This latter work was chosen in 2000 from an international field of “green” buildings for inclusion in the Ten Shades of Green exhibition in New York, an exhibition demonstrating architectural excellence and environmental sensitivity organized by the Architectural League of New York. Herbert Muschamp, architectural critic of The New York Times, wrote that it was “the most romantically utopian project on view … The most utopian aspect … is its atmosphere of social and spatial informality. It picks up on the direction in which American architects were headed in the postwar years, when California’s Case Study Houses, designed by Charles and Ray Eames and others, wove spare, modern design into the West Coast landscape … Why should the Australians run away with a style of living that began with Frank Lloyd Wright?”3 In 1998 the Clares were appointed Design Directors to the NSW Government Architect. The move to Sydney provided opportunities to work on larger projects than was possible in regional Queensland and the chance to teach, as adjunct professors in the University of Sydney Faculty of Architecture (1998–2005).

The Clares left the NSW Government Architect in 2000 to become founding directors of Architectus Sydney in 2001, a federation of architectural practices formed from offices based in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. In the same year, now as design directors of Architectus (and in conjunction with James Jones), they won an international competition for Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA, 2001–06; RAIA National Award for Public Architecture, 2007).

In many respects, GoMA is a defining work: a significant civic building that encapsulates the Clares’ architectural position and design strategies. The plane of the big roof echoes the siting of the building on the river flats, reinforcing local perceptions of place. Typologically, it is a big box under a big roof – a recurring formal theme in their work, and a building form reminiscent of both the traditional Queenslander and the backyard shed (both familiar types). The campus planning ordered around cross-axes of circulation is also typical. Along the cross-axes, natural light is introduced from above and at the edges of the building. The cross-axes/campus planning strategy is a flexible, loose-fit strategy that corresponds with their aesthetic approach to building finishes, which is also loose-fit. The Clares produce an architectural poetic based on expressing all the finishes as layers floating over the structure. The layering and overlapping of surfaces overcome imprecision and cover up mistakes in an often roughly assembled underlying carcase. For the Clares, layering is both a loose-fit aesthetic and a very practical loose-fit way of constructing buildings.

An art gallery is required to be a sealed airconditioned box. Consequently, although GoMA is shaded, the Clares were denied the opportunity to introduce natural ventilation into the building. This central aspect of their design position was addressed in their next major civic building, the Chancellery for the University of the Sunshine Coast (2003–06), which adheres to all the design strategies observed in GoMA and incorporates a sophisticated system of active natural ventilation – such that it won both the Australian Institute of Architects Queensland Public Architecture Award and the Harry S. Marks Environment Award (2008).

The climatic strategies are largely ones tried and tested over many years by the Clares in their domestic work, here scaled-up and mechanized. Sunhoods – similar to ones they have used in houses, but much longer – shade windows. On its southern side, the entire building opens to form a shady civic-scaled verandah that captures the prevailing south-easterlies. To enhance cross-ventilation, the deep plan is a campus of buildings separated by “external” streets, all under a single roof with vented skylights. To minimize the impact of solar gain on the thermal mass of the building, masonry walls are clad with a weatherproofing and sunshading skin (reverse veneer) of either corrugated iron or cement sheet. In the heat of summer, when the windows in the seminar rooms and staff offices are opened to admit the north-easterlies, electric relays automatically shut down the local split-system airconditioning units and open high-level louvres on the leeward side of the room.

For larger-scaled commercial projects, the rules-of-thumb principles and simple passive controls used for domestic buildings are not enough: a more scientific approach is necessary. The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has developed the Green Star Office Design rating tool, a holistic environmental rating scheme for commercial buildings that measures environmental performance over a range of criteria including water and energy consumption, materials, indoor environmental quality, site considerations, emissions, transportation and the long-term environmental management of a building. On a six-star rating scale, five stars denotes a degree of excellence that surpasses the top quartile of the industry.

Wesley House, a slender ten-storey office building in the heart of Brisbane (completed in 2009 in association with Fulton Trotter Architects), achieves a five-star rating. It features chilled beam technology with a 100 percent fresh air supply; fixed shading “blades” on all glazed facades (computer-tested); fritted double glazing with low-E glass; water-efficient fittings, using rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing; bike racks and showers for cyclists; low-emission interior finishes, recycled construction materials and the recycling of construction waste; computer-generated studies for optimum day lighting; and a building user guide, an environmental management plan and post-occupancy evaluation and tuning.

Wesley House does not overtly express its green credentials. With the exception of the sunshading blades, much of the Clares’ attention to environmentally sustainable design (ESD) is concealed from view. And even the blades read not so much as sunshades but as a delicate tracery of lines that form the urban-scaled backdrop to the little red brick Neo-Gothic church that stands in front – a bit of the city’s Victorian heritage left stranded, like a fish out of water, by the surrounding high-rise offices.

Unlike the traditional university college, with its dining hall and common rooms, student housing for the University of New South Wales (completed 2010) is modelled on the apartment type. Some 240 apartments accommodate 1,030 students; 70 percent are five- and six-bedroom “household” units (the balance are mostly one- and two-bedroom units). The apartments are planned around courtyards interconnected at ground level by breezeways. The complex forms part of the campus “village”, with its theatre, shops, cafes and village green. Most of the units are located within “thin-plan”, eight-storey wings running north–south. The configuration provides a double aspect and cross-ventilation to the living/dining/kitchen areas. Similar four-storey blocks line the northern (street) boundary, low enough to allow sun into the courtyards. Entry foyers at every level are naturally lit and ventilated. Concrete floors and walls provide the thermal mass necessary for comfortable temperatures without airconditioning. To minimize heat gain (and loss), walls are insulated on the external face and clad with a weatherproofing and sunshading skin (reverse veneer) of timber battens or a thin outer layer of concrete over polystyrene (the Thermomass panel system). Sunhoods shade windows. The most ingenious aspect of the design – the Clares’ solution to cross-ventilation for rooms opening off a double-loaded corridor – is largely hidden from view. The concrete floor slabs have hollow cores, tubes opening to the exterior which are used for cross-ventilation when bedroom doors and windows are closed. The building does not flag its green attributes: they exist to be experienced.

Underlying the formal and functional impulses towards energy-efficient, sustainable design are existential concerns. In highlighting the experiential, the Clares consider that it is better to be connected to the environment, to locate people in a place rather than seal them off from it. For them, architecture has the power to explain or at least mediate our place, to locate us where we feel comfortable, where we belong or where we wish to belong. One is reminded here of what Norberg-Schulz viewed as the metaphysical role of architecture: “Since remote times architecture has helped man in making his existence meaningful. With the aid of architecture he has gained a foothold in space and time.”4 The Clares remember the lessons of their Queensland mentors, Gabriel Poole and Geoffrey Pie, and they are aware too that they participate in the broad climate-driven design discourse that characterizes much of the culture and aesthetics of contemporary architecture in Sydney and Brisbane. Lindsay Clare says, “We are not alone in our approach; the work of many architects is based on similar principles. We’ve been lucky enough to have great clients prepared to let us test these ideas with them on large and small projects.”

Haig Beck is a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. He and Jackie Cooper are the editors of UME, an international review of architecture now published free online ( They are the authors of Architectus: Between Order and Opportunity (ORO, USA and Singapore, 2009), which features the work of the Clares.

1. Michael Keniger, Australian Architects: Rex Addison, Lindsay Clare & Russell Hall (Royal Australian Institute of Architects, 1990), p. 36.
2. Peter Hyatt, Local Heroes: Architects of Australia’s Sunshine Coast (Craftsman House, 2000), p. 188.
3. Herbert Muschamp, “Good Buildings and Good for You”, in the Art/Architecture reviews, New York Times, 2000.
4. Christian Norberg-Schulz, Meaning in Western Architecture (Studio Vista, 1975), preface.


I first met Lindsay and Kerry Clare in 1994, when I was introduced to their impressive work on the Sunshine Coast. As a member of University Council, Lindsay had an important influence on our architecture direction as a new university, and as a team they were both influential in USC, in effect creating a subtropical architectural laboratory for institutional buildings. It is an approach that has paid handsomely for the university.

The Clares have designed two of the university’s buildings; the Chancellery is the most recent. With both buildings we established a close relationship between architect and user, which led to outstanding design, and the buildings have been highly successful.

The Clares have deservedly be seen as leaders in their profession for some time and their national and international expertise is now unquestioned. 

Professor Paul Thomas, AM,


Vice Chancellor and President, University of the Sunshine Coast.


In 1980 as a recent graduate I started work with Lindsay and Kerry Clare in their first office, a sunroom overlooking the river in their rented Queenslander at Mooloolaba. These were the days before faxes, let alone internet or emails, when hand drawings were copied by dyeline and specifications laboriously typed in carbon triplicate. In the first weeks, business was conducted from the payphone down the street.

Later we moved to the “real office” at Lindos on Alexandra Headland, an elegant, white, bagged brick Mediterranean modern apartment building and office designed by Gabriel Poole. Everything was neat, cool, efficient, organized, crisp, controlled, but relaxed enough to down tools when the surf was up. Kerry proceeded to have five kids (to my two) without apparent effort while calmly continuing practice. Impressive.

Kerry and Lindsay had met as young architecture students in Gabriel Poole’s office in Mooloolaba. (GP: “I’ll give you a job if you can draw” – Lindsay’s high school art folio served to snag the job.) Though they studied part-time at QIT, Kerry and Lindsay regard themselves as largely self-taught, learning through direct practice and through their own enquiry. Their various Citroëns regularly covered the 250 kilometres to Brisbane and back for whatever architecture talk or event was on. Gabriel’s library introduced them to Aalto, inspiring personal study tours to Finland.

In regional Queensland at that time there was little general regard for architecture. However, discerning clients brought the Clares good commissions. Each project was an education, building their confidence, architectural sophistication and reputation. Houses were developed from careful consideration of site, climate and client brief, and arranged for unhampered enjoyment of glorious settings – on mountainside, in rainforest, viewing out to sea. Each evolved its own system, structure and presence.

Overlaying the Clares’ clear logic was a subtle subjectivity. There were discussions of compositional nuance – a 6B refining the arc of a curve or the placement of a window for a particular painterly effect.

Many of the early houses were built by Mal Dickson, a gentleman craftsman. Lindsay had worked “on the tools” with him in some down time from Poole’s practice and got an invaluable practical education in construction and detailing. (MD: “So you’ve drawn this detail … you can build it!”) There were many others who shared the youthful studio at Lindos, including Ian Mitchell, Vito Villari, Mark Jones, Lee Wade, Alan Marrs, Annabel Lahz, Geoff Cook, Chris Gee, Mark Roehrs, Richard Kirk, Chris Bligh and others, all enjoying the beach locale and learning from this exciting period of design and the realization of projects.

The rare privilege of this experience was underscored when London’s Peter Cook visited Lindos for a barbecue. Having yet to realize a built work himself, Cook was amazed by the extensive folio of completed work by these young architects.

Through the later 80s and 90s there was a natural desire by the Clares to undertake larger projects. The Rainbow Shores and Cotton Tree multi-residential projects provided the opportunity to successfully translate their residential architecture to the larger scale. However, despite wide recognition for their contribution to the design character of the Sunshine Coast, significant commissions for institutional or commercial work passed them by.

By the late 1990s Clare Design still had few large commissions, so when the opportunity to contribute to the public realm through the office of the NSW Government Architect came, it was too good to refuse, even though it meant leaving their coastal roots.

As Aalto inscribed on his motorboat forty years earlier – nemo propheta in patria – nobody is a prophet in his homeland. 

Elizabeth Watson-Brown is director of Elizabeth Watson Brown Architects.



Goetz House, Buderim. Image: Richard Stringer. 
Goetz House, Buderim. Image: Richard Stringer. 
Goetz House, Buderim. Image: George Seper.
Goetz House, Buderim. Image: George Seper.

Goetz House, Buderim

Clare Design—project team Lindsay Clare, Christopher Gee, Annabel Lahz, Karen Johnson, Kerry Clare.
RAIA (QLD) Citation for Meritorious Architecture, House of the Year 1985.
RAIA National Commendation – Robin Boyd Award, 1985.


Thrupp and Summers House, Nambour. Image: John Gollings.
Thrupp and Summers House, Nambour. Image: John Gollings.
Thrupp and Summers House, Nambour. Image: John Gollings. 
Thrupp and Summers House, Nambour. Image: John Gollings. 

Thrupp and Summers House, Nambour

Clare Design—project team Lindsay Clare, Ian Dimond, Alan Marrs, Kerry Clare.
RAIA (QLD) Residential Commendation, 1989.


McWilliam House, Alexandra Headland. Image: Richard Stringer. 
McWilliam House, Alexandra Headland. Image: Richard Stringer. 
McWilliam House, Alexandra Headland. Image: Richard Stringer.
McWilliam House, Alexandra Headland. Image: Richard Stringer.

McWilliam House, Alexandra Headland

Clare Design—project team Lindsay Clare, Alan Rogers, Richard Kirk, Rob Keen, Kerry Clare.
Venice Biennale, 1991.
Image: Richard Stringer.


Clare residence, Buderim. Image: Richard Stringer.
Clare residence, Buderim. Image: Richard Stringer.
Clare residence, Buderim. Image: Reiner Blunck.
Clare residence, Buderim. Image: Reiner Blunck.

Clare residence, Buderim

Clare Design—project team Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare, Denise Chen, Jeff Lee.
RAIA (QLD) Robin Dods Award, 1992.
RAIA (National) Robin Boyd Award, 1992.


Rainbow Shores, Surfside. Image: Richard Stringer.
Rainbow Shores, Surfside. Image: Richard Stringer.

Rainbow Shores, Surfside
Clare Design—project team Lindsay Clare, Geoffrey Cook, Alan Rogers, Leo Rogers, Jeff Lee, Phillip Smith, Kerry Clare.
BHP/Belle Steel Futures Award, 1993.
RAIA (QLD) Multiple Housing Award, 1995.


Cotton Tree Pilot Housing. Image: Richard Stringer.
Cotton Tree Pilot Housing. Image: Richard Stringer.

Cotton Tree Pilot Housing
Clare Design—project team Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare, Terry Braddock, Scott Chaseling, Jeff Lee, Alan Rogers, Troy Zwart.
RAIA (QLD) Multiple Housing Award, 1996.
RAIA National Environment Citation, 1996.


Hammond House, Cooran. Image: Adrian Boddy.
Hammond House, Cooran. Image: Adrian Boddy.

Hammond House, Cooran
Clare Design— project team Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare.
RAIA (QLD) Robin Dods Award, 1995.
RAIA (National) Robin Boyd Award, 1995.


Recreation Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: Richard Stringer.
Recreation Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: Richard Stringer.
Recreation Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: Richard Stringer.
Recreation Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: Richard Stringer.

Recreation Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast
Clare Design—project team Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare, Stephen Cameron, Scott Chaseling, Jeff Lee.
RAIA (QLD) Highly commended – F.D.G Stanley Award, 1998.


Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. Image: John Gollings.
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. Image: John Gollings.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
If there is a true successor to Glenn Murcutt’s ethos of “touching the earth lightly”, it is surely the prolific career of Lindsay and Kerry Clare. However, it is one thing to pursue this light touch where the works in question have a decisively residential character, where the budgets are often modest and where the sites, more often than not, have a seemingly unspoiled rural character. It is another thing entirely to sustain this lightweight, metabolic feel with major public commissions. Such projects began to enter into the portfolio of their expanded firm of Architectus at the millennium. Even so, something of the regional “outback” aeronautical feel is still obtained with such considered pieces as the Chancellery of the University of the Sunshine Coast (2006). Where this takes one, with regard to the erstwhile theory of critical regionalism, it is hard to say. Surely the stakes have shifted over the years and the scale and size at which successful architects are now being asked to design and build is daunting, to say the least. Perhaps the more crucial challenge today is to be able to create convincing megaforms with which to compensate for the loss of the public realm in the l ater modern, megalopolitan world. In this regard, one could perhaps claim that among the more convincing large works produced by their firm in recent years is their monumental but highly accessible Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.
Kenneth Frampton, Columbia University, New York.

design directorate Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare, James Jones;
project architect John Norman.
Sydney project team
Adrian Esdaile, Ali Johnston, Alison Brookbanks, Aurelio Marano, Barbara Flynn, Belinda Pajkovic, Blair Johnston, Britta Siggelkow, Christine McLennan, Darrin Rodrigues, Deirdre Coffey, Felix Winter, Geoffrey Way, James Jones, James Pilcher, Jason Jondreau, Jason Tsai, Jiang Bo Wang, John Jeffrey, John Norman, Kathy Kralj, Kerrie Campbell, Kerry Clare, Leonardo, Arias Galarz, Lindsay Clare, Mark Curzon, Martin Chan, Michael Harris, Petrina Moore, Renee Clare, Richard McEwen, Richard Travis, Rodd Perey, Rosemarie Gidaro, Sandy Strazds, Sarah Blacker, Simon Zou, Stefan Van Moll, Stuart Murchison, Thilo Nuessgen, Valeria Buccheri, Vanessa Gribben.
Brisbane project team John Grealy, George Saldais, Ian Thomas, Clark Ingram, Keith Allen, Allan Rielly, Michelle O’Leary, Ray Smith, Jon Percival, Michael Ray, Ashley Beckett, Chloe Comino, Peter Roy, Caleb Smith, Kirstin Tocker, Mark Medcalf, Clair Keleher, Liz Park.
Brisbane Regional Commendation, 2007.
Australian Institute of Architects (QLD) Public Building Award, 2007.
Australian Institute of Architects National Award for Public Architecture, 2007.
International Design Competition Winner, 2001.


Chancellery, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: John Gollings.
Chancellery, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: John Gollings.
Chancellery, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: John Gollings.
Chancellery, University of the Sunshine Coast. Image: John Gollings.

Thrupp + Summers House (1987) Revisited

Words by Sheona Thomson, Houses – August 2010 (Issue 75)
Photography by John Gollings

An Aalto-inspired home by Clare Design continues to sustain
its occupants and stake a claim on its setting.

Twenty-four years ago, Pauline Summers and Carl Thrupp would regularly return to their old house, elated after meetings with Lindsay Clare and his colleagues as their new home was designed.

At the outset, it hadn’t occurred to the couple to use an architect. Wanting to live sustainably, they thought they’d found their grail in a 1978 book by Tom Jenkins and John James called The Wise House, which outlined in detail how to optimize any new or existing home for climactic comfort and resource preservation in the wide variety of Australian environmental settings. They believed that with careful consideration and appropriate modification, an affordable “builder home” could be the answer. But the more they understood the complexity of the principles and advice expounded by Jenkins and James, the more they felt that an architect ought to be involved.

They drafted a brief and sent it out to several local people, but the responses they received did not match their expectations. Then they met Lindsay Clare and in him found an architect who “really listened.” After many good years, Pauline and Carl are as much in love with the house, which they share with their son Ryan, as ever.

Now retired, they get to spend much more time in the house and enjoy the atmosphere of the morning hours missed during working life. And while the Clares’ climatically efficient and tectonically poetic architecture has sheltered and sustained them, their deep love of the surrounding landscape comes to the fore in conversation – the eucalypts they have befriended, their intimate knowledge of the subtle and dramatic shifts in environmental sights, smells and sounds. And of course, it is the architecture of their house and its mutuality with the landscape that has played the largest role in enabling their love of the environment to flourish.

The interior of the house is unaltered since it was built in 1987. Image: John Gollings
Pauline and Carl say that the house has not demanded much from them over the years. Specified to endure as a low-maintenance dwelling, it has excelled. Some small timbers have been replaced and the exterior has been repainted once since 1987. The interior is unaltered and beautifully pristine.

This house has always attracted attention for the ethereal quality of its spaces. In constitution, a likeness has often been noted to the work of Alvar Aalto and a Scandinavian sensibility in general. In an earlier issue of Architecture Australia (Jan/Feb 1998) an image of the interior of the house was published alongside an image of Aalto’s Villa Mairea to illustrate the Clares’ esteem for the Finnish master and in particular for the architectural discipline derived from his deep understanding of landscape, climate and technology.

Unlike the houses of Aalto, which arguably vibrate with ambiguities in formal and material meaning, this house can be instantly apprehended.
Unlike the houses of Aalto, which arguably vibrate with ambiguities in formal and material meaning, this house can be instantly apprehended. While an early sketch published in a 1990 monograph does suggest that thoughts for the house once involved a looser, less aligned (and more “Aaltoesque”) arrangement of spaces, in resolution the organization of the plan became more orthogonal.

Countering this rationalism, the relationship between the horizontal and vertical dimensions was eased by floating the roof planes free from the room enclosures. Private spaces are controlled along the tall, directional gallery axis that emerges into the fused flow of the “public” living spaces and feathers out into the bush at the western end. With a reassuring clarity, the architecture provides a calm, clean space to support the complex needs of the family.

The gallery axis leads to the living spaces, lined with private spaces. Image: John Gollings
The house was designed to accommodate some special requirements, and this aspect has become somewhat of a challenge. From a young age – in fact, just as the process of commissioning the house was beginning – the clients’ son has had to undertake various therapies for an acquired brain injury. His needs were accounted for in the brief but spatial allowance for his rest, exercise and play no longer entirely suffices.

Now in his twenties, Ryan is tended three times a week by support workers and these personal care sessions increase demands for privacy. There are times when the open planning of the north-western end of the house, envisaged as the ideal stage for family togetherness, becomes a problem as Pauline and Carl find themselves unsure of where to go, wishing for a structured separateness so that Ryan’s independence and privacy can be respected. But as Pauline says, “How are we to be sure of what is in our future?” To the threshold of these challenging moments the house has worked wonders and it is optimistically acknowledged that there are issues to resolve in the future.

Yet time’s passage has also tightened the natural defences of their little architectural clearing, as the native eucalypts and woodland grasses have grown to veil the house more closely.
Beyond the bounds of their domain, there are external provocations that underscore the changes of time and the problems with home building that inspired Carl and Pauline to seek out the Clares in the first place. Bloated and poorly-sited developer housing slowly fills the dales to the north-east of the house, and lines the formerly quiet road over which the family travels to and from town.

The roof planes float free of the room enclosures. Image: John Gollings
Yet time’s passage has also tightened the natural defences of their little architectural clearing, as the native eucalypts and woodland grasses have grown to veil the house more closely. Already at an advantage, sited above the road on an east–west ridge, the house is now even more camouflaged, its original colouring profoundly in harmony with the landscape. Only the transparent corner of living space peeks through, its openness revealed by interior lighting as the sun sets, offering the meditative image of the house as an illuminated platform emerging out of its protective environment.

Against the rapacious development in the surrounding regions, in this image we see a poetic and enduring emblem of dwelling: the warm glow of a private world almost seamlessly existing in its natural setting – sustaining, sustainable and surely loved for twenty-three years.

Clare Design in Government

Two years ago, Lindsay and Kerry Clare abandoned their small office on the Sunshine Coast to enter the turmoil of Sydney’s development politics, as contract design directors for the NSW Government Architect. Now, as they move back to private practice (remaining in Sydney), Queensland Government Architect Michael Keniger reviews their public schemes and the unusual experiment.

Changing Places

The appointment of Lindsay and Kerry Clare as Design Directors of the New South Wales Government Architect’s Office two years ago entailed risk and uncertainty for the Clares and for the Government Architect, Chris Johnson. Against this, the Clares stood to gain experience of a wide range of public and urban projects whilst the Government Architect’s office would potentially benefit from the catalytic effect on its internal culture of two such highly skilled and committed designers. As the Clares come to the end of their appointment, has the initiative paid off? What has been achieved and is the interaction between private practice and public offices through such appointments to be more widely encouraged?

The model, looking towards the south east.
On their part, the Clares have engaged with projects of a scale and complexity that they were unlikely to meet in their home base at Buderim on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Their architecture had received international recognition yet was largely comprised of private houses. To move from the familiarity of their home patch to the cut and thrust of Sydney was of less concern than whether their design experience would meet the needs of complex, urban schemes.
These qualms dissipated with a series of well-framed designs for projects as diverse as the Olympics School at Homebush and the redesign of the ferry terminals at Circular Quay. There has been controversy, as with the proposed alterations to the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Sydney Cove, originally designed by Lawrence Nield and Peter Tonkin. Yet, generally, the contribution of the Clares to the Government Architect’s Office has been welcomed.
Model of new headquarters for the Sydney Water Police at Balmain.
The following short reviews of four selected projects offer snapshots of works that have yet to be completed. Their breadth indicates the variety of needs to be met in the public realm and the versatility of the architects. As the Clares return to private practice, it is hoped that they will have a continuing role in the implementation of these schemes and that the built works will stand as testimonies to the contribution they have made to the Government Architect’s office.

Victoria Lodge, Royal Botanic Gardens

The lodge was built in 1859 as a diminutive but finely scaled two-storey tower marking a gateway into the Botanic Gardens. After being altered and extended to serve as staff accommodation, it fell into disuse despite its historical significance. Additional space was required to make it viable as a restaurant/café and the Clares were invited to review the possibilities. Their scheme includes a glazed pavilion to sit lower than the existing lodge, sheltered by the surrounding trees. The pavilion and adjacent terrace will enjoy views across Farm Cove to the Opera House framed by the Harbour Bridge beyond. On two levels, the five metre by seven metre structure is tucked into the slope of the land to minimise its scale. The internal space is given order and definition by the timber columns that support the skylight above, with a further intricacy given by dropping the ceiling in the four corner bays. A move towards minimalism is evident with the frameless glass cladding to be shaded by thin, cantilevered steel awnings. The project has yet to receive Heritage Council approval.North-east elevation of the Victoria Lodge scheme.

National Environment Centre, Riverina College of TAFE, Thurgoona

In many ways this project is closer to the Clares’ earlier work; comprising a series of refined, single-storey, naturally ventilated, shed-like pavilions framing a linear court. The centre focuses on sustainable agriculture and the facilities were required to employ passive heating and cooling techniques to combat the fierce, dry heat of summer and the cold and mists of winter. The design was developed with advice from the NSW Department of Energy and Environmental Services. The east-west axis maximises exposure to the north and limits the effect of the western sun.
The courtyard, with its reflective pools and misting system, will provide oasis-like relief from the surrounding, open landscape. On the northern face of each building, rammed earth walls, with high thermal mass, will act as heat sinks. Other external walls are planned in reverse masonry veneer with plywood cladding over a masonry core. Skylights along the centre of the key spaces will admit south light and assist with cross ventilation. Solar powered fans will draw air through ground effect ducting some two metres below ground level to smooth thermal extremes. These systems will combine to enable the spaces to be open and flexible rather than air-conditioned and sealed. The design of the buildings and spaces is distinguished by the clarity of planning and strong ordering of space and material. The project is under construction and nearing completion.

Pedestrian Bridge, Sydney International Terminal, Mascot

Model of the Sydney airport pedestrian bridge.Spanning about 20 metres across a two-storey void at Pier 3 of the new international terminal, this bridge is both interrogative and proclamatory. It is one of seven major artworks provided by the art built-in budget for the terminal designed by Woodhead International. The bridge is intended to provoke speculation about reconciliation with the Aboriginal people and their culture and was designed in collaboration with Merrima, the Aboriginal design unit of the Government Architect’s office. The offset deck, formed of bands of jarrah, stainless steel and glass, will cantilever from a 1.5 metre-deep steel spine beam. These materials will be graded across the deck from the solidity of the supporting beam to the fragility of the open grating that skirts the opposing glazed balustrade – to heighten the tension between the glancing curve and transparency of this edge and the unyielding straightness and solidity of the other.

Pedestrian bridge courtyard plan.

The deck is being inscribed with texts evoking aspects of reconciliation; two of which are repeated across the bridge: “The past is all about us and within” from ‘The Past’ by Oodgeroo Noonuccal and “the spirit’s in the land” from ‘Native Born’ by Archie Roach. The bridge provides a place to stop and reflect both on the past and the future; contradicting its role as a thoroughfare through the space of a bustling airport. Although yet to be completed, the form, material and detail of the bridge suggest that it will fully answer its brief.

Number 1 Fire Station, Castlereagh Street.

The No. 1 Fire Station called for the extension and adaptive reuse of existing buildings on a tightly constrained urban site. The initial sketch schemes were for a residential tower before the brief settled onto the refurbishment of the existing fire brigade buildings and the addition of new training, residential and recreational amenities. Substantial heritage concerns had to be addressed as the existing buildings date from 1878 and are significant in having housed the oldest serving fire brigade in the Southern Hemisphere. The adjacent, former boot factory is to be demolished to make way for the additional accommodation.

West-east section of the No. 1 Fire Station.
The new structures include a protective parasol roof to the external training yard and a monitor- roofed block straddling the engine bays and driveway. This incorporates a games court, overnight accommodation for the fire crews, a mess hall and kitchen. The elevation of this wing is an exercise in urban modesty with its full height masked to match the scale of the adjacent buildings. The layered facade provides a deep edge zone that allows relatively clean air to be drawn from above whilst providing acoustic insulation to the spaces within. The new block and training yard are roofed with raking planes of lightweight steel and benefit from the Clares’ control of material and detail. This project has received approval and is proceeding to contract documentation.
North elevation of an abandoned scheme involving an apartment tower.

East section of the National Environment Centre, Thurgoona College of TAFE.

Model of the Environment Centre.

Model of Lawrence Nield & Partners’ Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal, showing proposed but not approved revisions by Clare Design/DPWS with Bligh Voller Nield.

Model of the Olympic Village School, being built at Newington.

Greenhouse Neutral Conference Centre in the Cumberland State Forest.

North-south section with, from left, new building, recycled 1912 addition and original 1887 station

Model of fire station revisions, fronting Castlereagh Street.