Richard Leplastrier – Framing the View
Director: Anna Cater | 73 min | 2020 | Australia
“Filmed over 15 years, this documentary [is] a powerful portrait of a seminal figure in Australian architecture.”
The 81-year-old Melbourne-born architect “… is the architect’s architect, refusing to become a ‘starchitect’. And while he designs beautifully crafted houses for his clients, his own lifestyle is closer to camping,” says the documentary’s creator. “Shunning the limelight, he tucks himself away in his one-room home in a remote estuary north of Sydney, only reached by boat.”
'Framing the View' follows Leplastrier from his house in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney to the construction of other homes in the city. It includes animated sequences of Leplastrier’s house plans and drawings and dedicates significant time to Bilgola House.
Bilgola House has no glass and no windows, principles that Leplastrier also incorporated into his own “bush camp” home, which provides a contrast to the properties he usually designs for clients.
Acknowledged as one of Australia’s most beautiful houses, Leplastrier says he was ‘hard-wired into aesthetics being the only thing’ when he developed Bilgola’s radical design.
“That’s a lesson learnt not only from Japan,” says Leplastrier of his home, where he and his family eat and sleep on the floor. “Most Pacific Islanders live like that. You can do with a house half the size.”
The notoriously reclusive architect agreed to be filmed for the documentary to create a legacy for his three children, who were 8, 12 and 15 years old when Cater began 15 years of filming in 2000.
All the people director Anna Cater interviewed for the film were close friends of Richard’s. “It soon became evident,” Anna said, “that everyone in his orbit becomes part of his bigger family, sharing his passion for site-responsive architecture.”