Peter Proudfoot: architect was a fascinating and maverick teacher

At that point in UNSW, as in different Australian universities, the schooling of architects was nonetheless largely centered on the instructing of design within the studio. For college students the studio was like a second residence, 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 means of creating concepts so far as they might go.

Proudfoot would urge his college students to work with their very own wishes and tastes, and to profit from these items – to “think big” – even when these concepts (precedents and fashions such because the work of Frank Lloyd Wright) have 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 rules. Failure on this regard results in a similar however inferior end result which doesn’t enable for actual creativity. Many of his college students have proved profitable throughout the architectural occupation, predominantly because of being taught on this manner.

Proudfoot would typically take up a pencil himself to indicate 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 participating 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 throughout his time in Rome.

The studio expertise with Proudfoot left an enduring impression: a uncommon encounter with a persona, flawed and eccentric, slicing and inspiring, generally comedian, who took structure significantly, and noticed it as a calling by which they could excel – a captivating, seemingly maverick determine.

Once 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 gained the Rome Prize in Architecture in 1965, didn’t attain its apogee within the constructed atmosphere, however when given the chance to design a scheme – for the brand new Parliament House in Canberra – he was capable of let fly to creativity, non-conventionality, and superb buildings.

Proudfoot confronted demons within the type of alcoholism. The years 1975 to ’80 have been a darkish interval for him as he misplaced virtually all the things that he valued. Through his need to be reunited along with his household and the assistance of physician, he finally shook that demon and by no means relapsed.

At least as soon as in his days of behaving badly he was taken to the lock-up in a police station he designed himself. Whenever anybody talked about Dad’s sporting skill, he would quip: “I did my best times running 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 residence 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 Nineteen Sixties. However, his power of persona 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 significantly thought-about a profession as a musician however selected structure as a substitute.

Proudfoot’s instructing at UNSW continued and he was awarded massive Australian Research Council grants for a number of tasks, together with the Griffin Canberra design and architectural schooling in Australia.


Old age turned fraught for Proudfoot as he didn’t take instruction on the best way to enhance his well being kindly, and grew annoyed along with his failing physique and thoughts. But this Keats phrase was certainly one of his favourites, and he lived it to the top: “I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination.”

Proudfoot valued the tenets of classical tradition – educational pursuit, bodily exercise, and wonder from artwork, structure and music. He had few each day worries. He had sufficient cash to do the issues he wished to do, and was actually up with the gods on Mount Olympus moderately than occupied with 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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