Bill Lucas: Architect Utopian

Moonbah Ski Hut under construction in Thredbo NSW, photo taken by Bill Lucas in 1959. Courtesy Peter Lonergan

Exhibition period: 24 February – 26 March 2022

Curated by Peter Lonergan

This exhibition takes us into the extensive archive of Bill Lucas (1924–2001), revealing the aspirations, ideals and works of one of Sydney’s foremost late 20th century architects. It includes a feast of previously unseen archival drawings, photographs, artworks, private writings and public documents, illustrating his trajectory from conventional to increasingly unconventional practice with projects that were invariably ahead of their time.   

Lucas was an architect idealist who, often through unconventional means, sought to bring about social and environmental change to make the world a better place. His early career, working with his wife Ruth, was spent designing and often instigating, innovative single and multi-residential projects, furniture and community developments. Lucas would meticulously refine a design informed by cost, materials and construction, to reach the optimum architectural solution for the client and site. By the mid-1970’s he ceased conventional practice, instead advising, teaching and problem-solving projects with holistic systems-thinking, often working without a fee.

Inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller, Lucas constructed his archive with the intent of collating his ideas and work for public benefit. Friend and collaborator Peter Lonergan, who holds the archive, invites us to share his delight and discoveries. Based upon an application made by Lucas to the Australia Council in which he scripts his life’s achievements, Lonergan has constructed this exhibition in parts; 20 buildings; 10 community projects; 1001 process drawings and 20+ books.

Exhibition Team: Cracknell & Lonergan Architects, Graphic Expression, Marilyn Karet, Peter Lucas