The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has bestowed one of their highest honours upon two Australian architects by awarding them a 2015 RIBA International Fellowship.

Peter Wilson and Richard Leplastrier were the Australians named, and along with nine other non-UK architects will be awarded their fellowships at a special event at the RIBA in London on 3 February 2015.

Wilson was named alongside his partner Julia Bolles, who together with Wilson directs the German-based firm Bolles + Wilson.

Wilson and Leplastrier are the only two Australians to be awarded the prize since its 2011 conception and will be the only from our country to have the initials Int FRIBA after their name.

The 2015 International Fellowship also includes Emilio Ambasz, Santiago Cirugeda, Joao Luis Carrilho da Graca, Thom Mayne, Antoine Predock, Peter Rich, Wang Shu and Lu Yenyu.

About the architects (from RIBA):


Peter Wilson, photo by Thomas Rabsch; City Hall, Willich, Germany, photo by Christian Richters

Peter Wilson was born in Melbourne in 1950. After studying architecture at the University of Melbourne, Peter went on to the Architectural Association in London in 1972, where Julia Bolles-Wilson was also a student. Originally established in London in 1980, the partnership moved to Münster in 1988 on winning the competition to design the new city library there. This highly articulated building is a response to a complex urban situation: its originality and excellence are demonstrated in the fact that almost immediately upon completion it became a mecca for architects and architectural students alike.

The Luxor Theatre Rotterdam, image: Panoramio.

Other work includes the 360 degree red-wrapped Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam (above), which was shortlisted for the 2001 Mies van der Rohe Prize; the visually striking, functionally ambiguous pair of harbour buildings in Münster (2006); and the highly tactile and contextual library in the heart of the Dutch city of Helmond (2010).

Julia Bolles-Wilson has lectured and taught world-wide. She is a regular jury member of architectural competitions and has chaired significant ones such as the Federal Environment Agency Design in Dessau; the new Train station and exhibition centre in Cologne-Deutz; the ‘Topography of Terror’ in Berlin and the Thermal Baths in Wien.

The Munster City Library was Bolles + Wilson's first major project after their relocation from London in 1988. Photo Julia Cawley.

Peter Wilson has lectured worldwide and has run studios in four continents. Peter is also a regular jury member of architectural competitions – he was president of the jury for a new Arts Centre in Maribor, Slovenia and in 2012 he was a member of the jury for the new Medellín Velodrome in Columbia.

Both Julia and Peter are dedicated to teaching and have inspired students and architects through their provocative and relevant public lectures around the world. Of particular note is their inventive use and indeed development of architectural drawing as a tool of representation and research, and their intellectual contribution to thinking on architecture has been considerable. Bolles+Wilson’s work has been broadly published and has received many awards. In 2009 they were rewarded with a Gold Medal at the XI International Triennale of Architecture in Cracow, and in 2013 Peter was awarded the 2013 Gold Medal of the Australian Institute of Architects. 

The RIBA is recognizing the distinctive and highly crafted work of Bolles + Wilson - production over 3 and a half decades - in awarding them each International Fellowship.



Richard Leplastrier. Photo Andrew Goldie.

Richard Leplastrier is a key figure in Australian architecture and architectural education. His architecture is sensitive to place and to culture and he uses his studio as a teaching room as well as a place to make architecture.

Richard is always spoken about in relation to Glenn Murcutt and his reputation is possibly diminished by this. It does not help that he shies away from publicity and has little interest in having his projects published. Yet he is the key philosophical influence behind much of the best work we see from Australia today. He provides the backbone of thinking and belief.

He had an extraordinary apprenticeship with Jørn Utzon, with whom he worked at the time of the Sydney Opera House and they became good friends. He became associated with Kenzo Tange in Tokyo and Tomoya Masuda at Kyoto University. The influence of Japanese design and craft is strong in his work, but he has brought to it a uniquely Australian identity. He is trying to bring ancient Aboriginal ideas about the land into play with the opportunities and problems of modernity. He is a superb teacher and speaker. He builds small exquisite buildings that are far more original on visiting than they are in pictures. He is a real first principles thinker. Of particular note are his tiny hidden houses, his exquisite furniture, his boat Dorothy and his broad influence within Australia.

Lovett Bay House, Sydney is one of Leplastrier's more renowned works. Image: OZ.E.TECTURE

Specifically his most important projects are: the tiny two bedroomed Palm Garden House, Northern Beaches, Sydney (1976) which dissolves into its garden like a mirage; Rainforest House, Mapleton, Queensland (1991); Lovett Bay House, Sydney (1994); Cloudy Bay Retreat, Bruny Island, Tasmania (1996) designed with one of his former pupils David Travalia, a small house, built as a retreat for study and meditation, like an oyster: rough and tough on the outside, but smooth and polished on the inside; and the Design Centre Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania (2002) also designed with David Travalia to house the Tasmanian Wood Design Collection and to be used as a living room for the city in which the exhibits would 'furnish the life of the city'.

Palm Garden House (1974) by Leplastrier  has only two rooms and is immersed in the surrounding landscape. Image: OZ.E.TECTURE