Bill and Ruth Lucas

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Bill and Ruth Lucas (née Harvey) were a husband and wife duo who together were accomplished Australian architects based in Sydney, best known for designing the Glass House (also known as the Lucas House[1]) in Castlecrag, Bulwark.[2] As an architect, educator, furniture designer, set designer, innovator, and utopian, Bill was involved in over 20 projects in both Castlecrag and later Paddington.[2] Both Bill and Ruth were described as "very good architects in the modern movement in Australia" by Pritzker Architecture Prize 2002 Laureate, Glenn Murcutt.[3]

Personal Lives[edit]

Bill Lucas was born on 31 December 1924 in Sydney.[2] He was drafted into the RAAF Air Crew service in 1943, where he served for three years.[2] He then had his first education on architecture in University of Sydney where he graduated with honours.[2] Bill went on to work in New Zealand with Hugh Grierson Architects, and designed his first home at Gymea Bay, Sydney, with his brother Neville.[2]

Ruth Harvey is mentioned as the only female architect attending the opening of the exhibition of Retrospective Architecture held in Sydney in 1954.[4]

Between circa 1955 Bill and Ruth met and, in 1956, were married. They had six children.[2]

The couple designed their famous Glass House at Castlecrag, Sydney in 1957, which became their family home for 5 years.[5] In 1962 they moved to Underwood Street where helped to develop The Paddington Society.[2]

On Monday, 10 September 2001, Bill Lucas died of a heart attack at Moonbah, Thredbo.[2]

Notable Projects[edit]

Design Group[edit]

Between 1955-57 Bill Lucas and Ruth Harvey worked with Neville Gruzman and Tony Moore where they lobbied for the design competition for the Sydney Opera House.[2] Bill was also in the forefront of the campaign to keep Jørn Utzon on as designer.[6]

Glass House[edit]

One of the most well known projects of Bill and Ruth Lucas is the Castlecrag Glasshouse or simply known as "Lucas House".[1] The house is a realization of their idea of an architecture that is ‘barely there’, or otherwise maintaining their integration with the bush setting.[5] Bill Lucas also emphasizes the importance of the frame as the main structure of the architecture, ‘everything that goes on after that destroys the original structure’.[7] The house was built for their family, constructed with economy in mind.[7] It was designed to function both as a studio and residence but within 5 years had become too small for the expanding Lucas family.[5]

The Paddington Society[edit]

The Lucases became actively involved in helping to prevent the suburb of Paddington from comprehensive redevelopment.[2] Paddington was the scene of many historical sites and architecture, notably Juniper Hall and Centennial Park.[6] The Society also lobbied to prevent a sports stadium from being built in Centennial Park.[6] The society still functions today as an action group but also serves to record the historical landmarks of the area.[6] At Paddington, the couple was involved in designing Orange Tree Grove, a medium density housing project, as well as the Orange Tree Grove Cooperative Art Centre with Owen Tooth, Marion Best and Mary White.[2] Both of them were also involved in arranging the purchase of "Sea View Villa", Oxford Street, Paddington, where Ruth helps to establish Guriganya Progressive Community School.[2]

Other Projects[edit]

  • Block House – Castlecrag, commissioned by Con and Addie Saltis, 1960.[2]


  1. ^ a b Sydney Architecture. Sydney Architecture Images – Northern Suburbs. Retrieved 13 April 2011, from
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Myers, P Lewis, R Lucas, D & Lucas, A. 2002. ‘Obituary’, Architecture Australia, vol. 91, no.6, p.82. Retrieved 11 April 2011, from
  3. ^ Murcutt, Glenn. 2002. ‘The Prizker Architecture Prize: Glenn Murcutt 2002 Laureate Acceptance Speech’, p.2. Retrieved 14 April 2011 from
  4. ^ Architects take over from artists, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 September 1954, p. 13 (archived by Google News). Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  5. ^ a b c Docomomo Australia. New International Selection Full Documentation Fiche 2003 – Glass House, Castlecrag, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Retrieved 13 April 2011, from
  6. ^ a b c d The Paddington Society 2010. September 2001 News Bulletin. Retrieved 12 April 2011, from
  7. ^ a b McCartney, K. 2007. 50/60/70: iconic Australian houses : three decades of domestic architecture, Murdoch Books, Sydney

External links[edit]