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McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

McBride Charles Ryan: Infinite Thinking

Annie Reid meets Debbie Ryan of McBride Charles Ryan to investigate the key factors driving this award winning team’s work



BY owen Lynch

February 13th, 2013


Context, form, colour and texture take pride of place in the work of Melbourne-based architecture practice, McBride Charles Ryan (MCR).

McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Senior Campus

“We also like to put some fun into buildings,” co-director, Debbie Ryan laughs.“I suppose we’re always after a bit of joy.”

The practice’s latest completed project is a prime example – Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (PEGS)- senior school, in Essendon, Melbourne.

McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Senior Campus

Reflecting the sun through shimmering silver bricks, the huge university-style building is in the shape of an infinity symbol, to symbolise the infinity of learning.

At its heart is the library, which resonates with the school’s love of books.

McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Senior Campus

“It’s like a walled city, and there are all sorts of things going on, such as an art area, science area, and you walk from one place to another. But you always end up back at the library,” Ryan says.

McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Senior Campus

As is characteristic of the practice’s work, bold colours are splashed throughout; in this case, across each area to also function as way finding for students, staff and visitors.

McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Senior Campus

“Colour is another tool that can actually help people,” Ryan says.

For example, the lecture theatre is red and the cafeteria is green, while yellow hazard stripes in the science area and glittering, blue tiling on a staircase create layered meaning in the detail.

McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

Cloud House

Playful shapes exist too, which draw on those similar to MCR’s Cloud House and the Hogwart’s-esque PEGS junior school campus, which were both completed in the last couple of years.

“We are bowerbirds in a sense. We do pull things from all over the place,” she says.

McBride Charles Ryan, Cloudhouse, Debbie Ryan, John Gollings

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Junior Campus

With students now kicking off the year in their new school, MCR has plenty of its own runs on the board, including the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) project, The Quay’s project, more schoolwork and the completion of their own home. (Ryan and co-director Robert McBride are married).

Ryan will also be busy this year on the judging panel for the annual Dulux Colour Awards, with the winners announced on March 20.

McBride Charles Ryan 

mcbridecharlesryan.com.au

All images © John Gollings


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