There’s a story behind every award. Here’s a little backstory behind Peter Stutchbury’s latest – an International Fellowship to the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Peter Stutchbury has always had a longing to give back. As an alumnus of UON, and one of Australia’s leading architects, sharing his knowledge through mentoring students seemed logical.

There’s an interesting story as to how one of Australia’s leading architects came to UON: a university in Sydney offered Stutchbury and fellow architect Rick Leplastrier positions as conjoint professors – which was promptly followed-up by a counter-offer from the University of Newcastle.

“Rick and I spoke about it, and we thought the faculty here had more potential for change, and for listening, and it did,” Stutchbury said.

The opportunity to do something really outside the box came about five years ago, when one of the senior staff that was leaving. “He said ‘why don’t we make this position available for five fractional positions so they have more influence in the faculty?’ Rick and I were a bit reluctant at first, but then we thought it was better to share than not to share. So Kerry and Lindsay Clare came then Lawrence Nield.” Stutchbury said.

Deciding how to best mentor the students meant drawing on each architect’s strength. “We decided that one-on-one teaching was a better option than lectures,” Stutchbury said. “There’s a real sense of leadership and mentorship that’s been nurtured by the architects in residence and the other staff as well.”

It’s innovative teaching such as this that’s led to Newcastle now being seen as the leading school of architecture, not only throughout NSW, but throughout Australia. “Mentorship is proving to have a very strong impact on student learning,” said Stutchbury.

“You don’t walk into a faculty anywhere in the world and have this sort of energy,” said Stutchbury. “I’ve taught all over the world and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The sense of possibility is inspiring. UON students are setting up small practices and taking out prizes in National competitions – leaving other schools in the shade.

Having five gold medal winning architects in the faculty can be intimidating said Stutchbury, but the first thing that students have to do is to get over that. “Mentoring is a much stronger way of passing on information. It’s one thing having a gold medal, it’s another to be generous in passing on that knowledge. I think all the fractional professors here are extraordinarily generous in passing on their knowledge.”

Each of the architects in residence has their strengths – having created some of our most iconic modern buildings nationally and internationally.

Recognition by royalty

Stutchbury has added another string to his impressive bow being awarded a 2016 International Fellowship to the Royal Institute of British Architects.

“ I was totally unaware of the award,” said Stutchbury. “They tell you a month before that you’re nominated, and, if you’re approved it’ll be announced. It’s a strong recognition for your contribution to your profession. What’s really wonderful is that Rick Joy, who’s one of America’s top architects is my best friend and he’s also been awarded.”

Next February, Stutchbury will travel to the UK to be awarded at a gala presentation. “I might even get to meet the Queen,” Stutchbury smiled, (as the Queen has been known to attend these ceremonies). The award is conferred based on Stutchbury’s skills as an architect, draftsman and his consummate influence as a mentor. It’s these skills that see Stutchbury and his fellow architects in residence playing a defining role as part of the world-class team at UON.

Adding to his accolades, Stutchbury was awarded in the 2015 Australian Institute of Architects’ National Architects Awards for his residential project Light House. This cliff-hugging home has already been overwhelmingly voted the winner of the NSW Architecture Awards due to its “remarkable and exquisite outcome on a tight, complex site.”

Read more about Peter Stutchbury and our Architects in Residence.