Mark Burry

Mark Burry is Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Melbourne in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning, where he commenced in December 2014. This position, created as part of the Research at Melbourne Accelerator Program, will further develop the Faculty’s capacity to develop research in urban futures by drawing together and augmenting expertise in urban visualisation, urban analytics, and urban policy. This new appointment at the University of Melbourne is an opportunity to build further on Professor Burry’s work in the context of urban research and return to a more architecturally driven research dialogue. He will contribute to continuing work on the Grand Challenges at Melbourne (understanding our place and purpose, fostering health and wellbeing, and supporting sustainability and resilience) through his research from an urban perspective, cross-Faculty linkages, and the development of broader research and industry connections.

Professor Burry has published internationally on three main themes: the life and work of the architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, putting theory into practice with regard to ‘challenging’ architecture, and transdisciplinary design education and practice.  He has published widely on broader issues of design, construction and the use of computers in design theory and practice.

Prior to joining the University of Melbourne in 2014 professor Mark Burry had been the founding Director of RMIT University’s Design Research Institute (DRI). , which commenced in 2008. DRI positions design research’s role as an ‘explorer and tester of design options’ focusing on the challenges of urbanisation and growing cities of the Future.  With this focus on the urban DRI’s supports three flagships: Future Fabric of Cities, Mediated City, and Urban Technology Nexus.  Together these flagships foster and support a transdisciplinary approach to design research at the intersection of design education, research, industry, and practice.  The Institute brings over 100 university design researchers to the table along with their industry, government and community partners together in order to access and stimulate a broad spectrum of design thinking.

DRI aims to build a transdisciplinary design research capability producing knowledge, products and services across the entire range of design disciplines. Researchers are principally from architecture, fashion, aeronautical and chemical engineering, business, industrial design, textiles, art and new media and form research teams around significant projects.  Working through the Flagship Program, projects are speculative and practical initiatives; applicable to the ways we live and work, create culture and communities, plan and navigate our world. The Institute contributes to an understanding of the value of design and the role of design research among diverse communities and audiences.  DRI was established in 2008

As founding Director of RMIT’s state-of-the-art Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) since 2001, he has led the establishment of a holistic spatial design research environment dedicated to almost all aspects of contemporary spatial design activity.  The laboratory focuses on collocated design research and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching with associated advanced computer applications and the rapid prototyping of ideas.  The laboratory has a design-practice emphasis and acts as a creative think-tank accessible to both local and international practices, including ARUP in Melbourne and London, dECOi in Paris and Gehry Partners in Los Angeles.

Since 1979, Professor Burry has been a key member of the Sagrada Família Basilicadesign team based on site in Barcelona.  For over three decades he has been helping untangle the mysteries of Gaudí’s compositional strategies for his greatest work, especially those strategies coming from his later years, the implications of which are only now becoming fully apparent as they are resolved for building purposes.  In the last decade he has led the design and detailing if the Passion Façade rose window and the narthex above the porch, and the auditorium space sitting above the crossing where the six principal towers intersect with the body of the basilica.  His Melbourne based team has just completed an exhaustive recovery and digital description of all Gaudí’s surviving 1:25 scale model and photographs of the Glory Façade interpreting the material at 1:200 scale for the next pahse of its development.

On February 18 2004, in recognition of his contribution to the Sagrada Família Basilica project, the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi awarded Professor Burry with their prestigious Diploma i la insignia a l’acadèmic corresponent with the title Il·lustríssim Senyor by the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi. In May 2006 he was awarded an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship, one of Australia’s most prestigious Fellowships, in acknowledgment of his international leadership in the field of ‘complex architecture and convergent design’. Up to 25 of these awards were made annually for a five-year period competed for across the whole academic community.  The majority of these grants are awarded to people in the science and technology areas, with just one or two awarded to people in the creative arts and humanities disciplines.  In 2006 he was also recipient of the USA Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) annual Award for Innovative Research, and in 2012 he was awarded the Biennial Sasada Award by CAADRIA (The Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia).  This award is given to “an individual whose sustained record of contributions demonstrates or promises significant impact on the field of computer aided design”.