Like you requested I will try in my “very bad english” to tell you the long story of my friendship with Enrico…
I am an architect, I grew up in a family of architects (father, mother, sister, wife).
During my years at Milan Politecnico, in the 80’s, I was attracted to the architectural magazines that had always circulated at home…. In those years there began to appear some of Glenn Murcutt’s first projects. At this time I did not know anything of Australia but I was attracted by countries with large open spaces and great wilderness. So when I saw for the first time Murcutt’s projects I was absolutely fascinated. Those small and delicate houses that confronted such a wonderful nature were for me an absolute novelty. From that time began my desire to go and visit the Australian continent at my first chance. I was lucky!
In 1988 I received my degree from the Politecnico in Milano and I started to collaborate with Sergio Crotti my thesis professor. As often happens in such circumstances, I was working late at night some years later, with other young colleagues in Crotti’s studio for an architectural competition and talking with them I expressed my strong desire to visit Australia and its contemporary architecture.
The colleague and friend sitting next to me, Massimo Tadi, told me:
“Gianmatteo, if you want to visit Australia I’ll be happy to go with you. It has been many years that I have the desire to visit my dear uncle Enrico who lives in Canberra. He is an architect and he has made and is making projects for some of the most interesting Australian buildings…”
This seemed to me a great fortune and coincidence, and so we organized our first Australian trip for August 1995.
Our desire was to meet Massimo’s uncle, Enrico, and his family, and organize an interview hopefully to be published in an Italian architectural magazines. Last but not least we wanted to make a long trip through Australia in search of interesting architecture.
When we arrived in Canberra Enrico won our hearts with his architectural ideas, building projects, his kindness and unique personality.
Enrico with his knowledge and contacts indicated Australian architects who we should try to meet during our trip. So we set off by car to discover Australia and its architecture…
It was a wonderful and unforgettable trip of three months. We travelled through Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Uluru, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Mount Isa, Cairns, and Sydney, all by car…
This trip was my first contact with Australian architecture… We saw wonderful projects by Harry Seidler, Colin Madigan, Robin Boyd and so on… When we arrived in Darwin we were lucky to be able to visit the Troppo Architects studio. And the Bowali Visitor Centre in Kakadu National Park designed by Troppo and Glenn Murcutt…
When we returned to Canberra Enrico had prepared for us a real big gift. He had phoned Glenn Murcutt saying that there were two young Italian architects in Australia that dreamed of interviewing him, and he accepted.
So that was that, thanks to Enrico, we were to meet Glenn.
It was a memorable meeting in a pub in Sydney, where for more than an hour Murcutt told us of his projects, of his ideas about architecture, whilst drawing on the pub napkins …
My friendship with Enrico began with this “1995 unforgettable trip”.
A couple of years later, in 1997, Enrico invited Massimo and I to join him in working on the competition for the Kingston Foreshore. I spent two months in Canberra working on the project and competition draft.
During our long and animated discussions on the competition project and the city of Canberra I started to understand Enrico’s interest and deep passion for his city that he loved and called the “non-city”.