24 February 2012

RMIT alumni profiled in "Life Architecturally"

A new documentary that follows internationally-acclaimed husband and wife architecture team, Robert McBride and Debbie Ryan, will screen on Tuesday on ABC1.

Life Architecturally - an intimate portrait of the pair that reveals the inspiration behind their groundbreaking concepts, designs and architecture - will air at 10pm on 28 February.

Robert McBride and Debbie Ryan studied at RMIT University in the 1980s. They are joint owners of the Melbourne architecture practice McBride Charles Ryan, which they founded 24 years ago.

Mr McBride completed his Masters of Architecture in the 1990s and is now an adjunct professor at RMIT.

Their outstanding modern architecture is changing the face of the city, with their spiral shaped "Klein Bottle house" achieving the ultimate accolade: the prestigious World Architecture Festival Award in Barcelona (2009) for best residential house.

From a copper dome-shaped house that fits together like a jig-saw puzzle to a beach house that unfurls from a letterbox and an extension that resembles a cloud - their work is both beautiful and controversial, with many considering their buildings to be works of art.

Life Architecturally follows their day-to-day lives over one year, examining the intricacies of their unique working relationship and the inspiration behind their iconic and controversial works.

This intimate documentary observes the pressures of building a multi-storey, twin-tower development and a revolutionary new school, in the shape of an infinity symbol, alongside the construction and design of their new family home.

It follows the couple as they prepare a pitch within a team to win the contract to design and construct a billion-dollar building that will be the biggest cancer care centre in the southern hemisphere.

Mr McBride said they agreed to take part in the documentary to give the public an insight into the working lives of architects and designers.

"I thought it might increase public perception of what we do every day. Most people don't have any insight into architects work - they just see the final product without knowing what you do every day and what drives you," he said.

Mr McBride has fond memories of his time at RMIT and remains friends with many of the people he studied with.

"RMIT had quite a profound influence on me," he said.

"As a young student I was inspired by the work and teaching of Peter Corrigan. Later on I was taught by (architect) Ian McDougall, Howard Raggatt and Peter Elliot.

"Their approach and those experiences continue to shape how I think about architecture 25 years later."

Life Architecturally screens on Artscape, ABC1, at 10pm on Tuesday, 28 February.

Dome House.

Templestowe Primary School.

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