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architect was a fascinating and maverick teacher

At the moment in UNSW, as in different Australian universities, the training of architects was nonetheless largely targeted on the educating of design within the studio. For college students the studio was like a second dwelling, a website of wide-ranging dialog amongst themselves and with their assigned tutor. It was right here that Proudfoot made his presence felt.

His singular ardour for the topic, influenced each by his father’s industrial artwork profession and by his undergraduate tuition by Lloyd Rees and Roland Wakelin, noticed architectural design akin to the making of artwork, a technique of creating concepts so far as they’d go.

Proudfoot would urge his college students to work with their very own needs and tastes, and to profit from these items – to “suppose massive” – even when these concepts (precedents and fashions such because the work of Frank Lloyd Wright) had been opposite to his personal style.

A former scholar remembers that Proudfoot all the time inspired his college students to assault a design drawback from first ideas. Failure on this regard results in an identical however inferior end result which doesn’t permit for actual creativity. Lots of his college students have proved profitable inside the architectural career, predominantly on account of being taught on this method.

Proudfoot would typically take up a pencil himself to point out what he meant. In his work within the studio he by no means questioned his college students’ good religion or their capabilities, however he insisted on their partaking in a frank dialogue. And he was all the time formally addressed as “Dr Proudfoot”, and addressed his college students by surname solely.

A sketch made by Proudfoot during his time in Rome.

A sketch made by Proudfoot throughout his time in Rome.

The studio expertise with Proudfoot left a long-lasting impression: a uncommon encounter with a character, flawed and eccentric, slicing and inspiring, typically comedian, who took structure severely, and noticed it as a calling by which they may excel – an interesting, seemingly maverick determine.

As soon as he introduced a portfolio of his personal work into the studio, together with his 1965 Rome Prize scheme. Marked by sinuously curving ceilings and portentous towers, this work appeared to channel the spirit of the baroque, in sharp distinction to the abstemious modernism and earthbound localism prevalent on the time in Sydney.

His design brilliance, by which he had received the Rome Prize in Structure in 1965, didn’t attain its apogee within the constructed surroundings, however when given the chance to design a scheme – for the brand new Parliament Home in Canberra – he was in a position to let fly to creativity, non-conventionality, and wonderful buildings.

Proudfoot confronted demons within the type of alcoholism. The years 1975 to ’80 had been a darkish interval for him as he misplaced nearly every little thing that he valued. By way of his want to be reunited together with his household and the assistance of a very good physician, he ultimately shook that demon and by no means relapsed.

A minimum of as soon as in his days of behaving badly he was taken to the lock-up in a police station he designed himself. Each time anybody talked about Dad’s sporting capability, he would quip: “I did my finest instances working from the police.”


In retirement, Proudfoot typically visited Gunnedah, the house of his spouse Helen’s household property. His legacy lives on there, in addition to the household dwelling in Roseville, which he designed in 1984 in magnificent modernist vogue, and the buildings he designed for the federal government architect’s department within the Sixties. Nevertheless, his power of character and architectural brilliance knowledgeable a era of structure college students.

Proudfoot was single-minded to succeed at his pursuits, however equally decided to keep away from conditions or circumstances to not his liking. He was by no means on the electoral roll or documented within the census. He was an anarchist at coronary heart.

He excelled at each sport and music. When younger, he was a talented cricketer as a leg spinner, on one event taking 10 wickets for 128 runs in a single innings. In his grownup years, squash and golf sustained him. He was a scholar on the Conservatorium of Music and performed the oboe within the Sydney Youth Orchestra. He severely thought of a profession as a musician however selected structure as a substitute.

Proudfoot’s educating at UNSW continued and he was awarded giant Australian Analysis Council grants for a number of initiatives, together with the Griffin Canberra design and architectural training in Australia.


Previous age grew to become fraught for Proudfoot as he didn’t take instruction on tips on how to enhance his well being kindly, and grew pissed off together with his failing physique and thoughts. However this Keats phrase was one among his favourites, and he lived it to the top: “I’m sure of nothing however of the holiness of the center’s affections and the reality of the creativeness.”

Proudfoot valued the tenets of classical tradition – educational pursuit, bodily exercise, and wonder from artwork, structure and music. He had few day by day worries. He had sufficient cash to do the issues he needed to do, and was actually up with the gods on Mount Olympus fairly than fascinated by on a regular basis life. These tenets knowledgeable his work as a instructor and the place his strengths lay.

Peter Proudfoot is survived by his daughters Ann and Emma, and grandchildren Matthew, Thomas, Claire and Leila. Helen died in 2011.

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