Exploring The Boundaries Of Design
Peter Rice


Peter Rice, 1986

©Monica Pidgeon

When I think of myself I don't think of myself as an engineer, more as a strategist I suppose, a strategic thinker who brings to the process the skills which you develop from working in the engineering world. I became an engineer almost by accident and I suppose that's how I've always felt it myself. I didn't have, as I grew up, an all-consuming interest in engineering, and consequently I suppose it doesn't matter a great deal to me whether the pure engineering content of what I do is paramount. When I was younger I was really in many ways more interested in being a film maker but one thing led to another. I started work at Arup's and then I found myself working on the Sydney Opera House.


Sydney Opera House, With Jørn Utzon

©Peter Rice/Ove Arup & Partners

First I did the geometry of the Opera House roof and then I worked on the site for three years, on the construction of the roof, and discovered that I really quite liked the whole process of building. And from there decided that I would concentrate on making a career out of it. Sydney Opera House used precast concrete in a very particular and explicit way. It explored as far as was possible the different shapes and forms that could be achieved in precast concrete, and in the end the form of the building is defined by the limitations of precast concrete, and by the need to produce high quality well-detailed elements. It also used computers very effectively to control and organise the wide variety of different shapes within the framework of a straight forward geometrical discipline.

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