The Murcutt Master Class has been held each year since 2001 and securing a space is as hotly contested as getting a booking on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Naish, who has enrolled in the class as part of a delayed sabbatical to celebrate 20 years as sole design director at the practice, needed to submit a portfolio of work to be accepted onto the course.
Once there, he’ll be rubbing shoulders with Murcutt’s fellow tutors – Peter Stutchbury, Brit Andersen and Richard Leplastrier, all gold medallists of the Australian Institute of Architects. Stutchbury is known for his radically creative forms which nevertheless respond to, and respect, the environmental context; Andersen was the first woman to be awarding the RAIA gold medal, and Leplastrier, who has been described as “the architect’s architect”, is an educator and mentor whose works are secret treasures, seldom splashed across the pages of design magazines.
Naish says he is looking forward to being “a small fish in a bigger bowl” and to the intensive experience of collaborating with fellow attendees in workshops, where their work, including the production of models and drawings, will be critiqued by these visionaries of the industry. And, while the shared bunkroom accommodation may transport him back to his university days, the field trips to visit some of Australia’s most celebrated buildings set within the backdrop of the Ozzie bush, will undoubtedly be thought provoking and inspiring.
Being a student again, with mentors of this calibre, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not only fosters camaraderie between an international network of alumni but can re-energise this spirit and refocus the mind. On his return, another 20 years won’t seem nearly enough time to explore such an expanded consciousness.