Architect John James graduated from Melbourne University in 1953 then travelled to Europe where he worked until 1956. He returned from overseas during 1957 and subsequently set up his own practice in Sydney. Between the years 1958 and 1965 he built over 100 houses as a contractor, based on the belief that an architect should also be a builder. By doing this he gained first hand knowledge of the local building industry and an understanding of materials and construction techniques that was supplemented by work as a saw miller during 1960 and tie spent working in the snow country during the 1960s. James’ work is notable for a highly crafted quality, based on his experience on building sites and a conviction that construction details should be resolved on site. Several constraints determined his approach to architecture – site and brief conditions that establish their own dictates from which a consistent proportioning system and geometry was derived, preservation of the natural features of the site itself, the influence of Japanese architecture and respect for materials, including the ways that they weather. According to the noted architectural historian Jennifer Taylor John James made a “considerable contribution” to housing design in Sydney during the 1960s. He has also established a reputation as a noted scholar of Medieval building craft.
James was impressed by the work of several architects. They include Le Corbusier, who he did not meet but was aware of through books, and the Americans Louis Kahn and Eliel Saarinen.
A more detailed summary of his research interests an be found on his web site: johnjames.com.au