Peter Muller, 1927–2023

John Hill
20. February 2023
Michell House, Adelaide, 1964 (Photo: denisbin/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

Born on July 3, 1927, in Adelaide, Peter Neil Muller studied at University of Adelaide and then traveled to the United States, earning a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951. He returned to Australia and established his eponymous private practice in Sydney in 1953. Over the next couple of decades he designed numerous notable modern houses in Sydney, quite a few of them with cantilevered rooflines, plans incorporating natural site features, strong geometries and other features clearly exhibiting the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright.

In an excerpt from an interview with Muller conducted by Sydney Living Museums in 2014, in which the architect speaks about the early Audette House (1954), he admits Wright's architecture “struck a chord with me. I liked his architecture […] but didn't attempt to copy his architecture.”

Like Wright, Muller was inspired by travels to Japan, applying lessons there to the later Michell House (1964), for instance, which Patricia Michell describes in this short film:

Around the time of the Michell House, Muller's designs were departing from literal Wrightian references and were becoming more regionally informed, both in the domestic projects done with his private practice, which he closed in 1985, and in the overseas projects with Peter Muller International, which he established in 1979 and maintained until 2007. A glance at his portfolio (a PDF of a 2017 monograph on Muller can be downloaded via reveals projects in Bali that appear local, with stone walls, wood framing, and thatch roofs. According to an obituary at Bali Discovery, Muller's second wife, anthropologist Carole Mason, “[was] credited with influencing the many Balinese cultural elements he incorporated in his signature Bali resorts.”

Muller was made Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1970 and Officer of the Order of Australia in 2014.

Pool and music pavilion at Amandari Hotel, Bali, 1990 (Photo: Raymondeuro/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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