Brit Andresen

Architect, Andresen O’Gorman Architects

Brit Andresen is an architect who has developed and shaped architectural ideas through her words and designs. Having travelled the globe before settling in Australia, her contribution has been crafted by her experiences and a reverence for the land, an important influence on the architecture she creates.

Andresen was born in Norway and from an early age travelled the world with her family. After high school, Andresen left for England to study mathematics but then returned to Norway and enrolled in an architecture course. She graduated from The University of Trondheim with a Master of Architecture N.T.H. Sivil Arkitekt (1969) and from here, her professional journey began.

The 1950s and 1960s were a time of great change with major rebuilding projects in Europe, including public housing design. It was through this interest in housing that Andresen received an invitation to visit the School of Architecture in Cambridge, England where she later taught in the design studio with Barry Gasson.

Through their shared interest in building design with landscape they went on to collaborate on an international, two-stage design competition for a new gallery in Glasgow that attracted over 240 design entries. When their scheme was selected for the second stage of the competition in 1972, they were joined by John Meunier and were subsequently named winners of the competition.

The team continued to work in the Cambridge Warehouse Studio to develop the design until late in1976 when work on the Burrell Museum drawings was indefinitely paused due to the financial climate in the United Kingdom.

In 1977 Andresen accepted a teaching position in Australia until such time as the gallery for the Burrell Collection project was back on track, and subsequently arrived in Brisbane to take up what was meant to be a short-term tenure at the University of Queensland. It was here that she met Peter O’Gorman, who was to become her husband and practice partner for the next 30 years.

Together Andresen and O’Gorman lectured at The Queensland University School of Architecture, concurrently practicing architecture, and entering competitions through their eponymous practice, Andresen O’Gorman Architects. The pair have left their mark not only on the architectural landscape of Australia but, over the years, in the minds of the many aspiring architecture students they taught.

In her practice Andresen looks for the chance to extend an appreciation of qualities in the landscape and the wider setting. She considers the land and context to be among the most important aspects to consider when designing.

Additional significant projects that Andresen has initiated for teaching, include the Sedimentary City design research project with its constructed digital images examining climate futures and land-use, realised in collaboration with Mara Francis Architect. ​​Sedimentary City Brisbane was presented as part of the John Gollings AM exhibition: Now and When Australian Urbanism at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition, in the Australian Pavilion Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2010.

Brit Andresen has distinguished herself through her work, not only in Australia but globally. In 2002, Andresen was the first ever female recipient of the prestigious Gold Medal, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ highest honour, and she contributes to the annual Glenn Murcutt International Master Class, participating since 2006. Andresen also continues with an occasional teaching role at the University of Queensland where she is a Professor Emerita.
It is an honour to celebrate Brit Andresen as a Luminary whose life work has touched so many.

The full article can be read in Indesign issue 91 and on Indesignlive here. Words by Jan Henderson.