Internationally celebrated WA architect Kerry Hill has died at age 75, after a battle with cancer. Hill, who was based in Singapore, was known for his cutting-edge modernist designs, particularly his work in resort and hotel design across Australia and Asia.
The ABC’s Asia Pacific Focus described Hill as “the Australian architect behind some of Asia’s most innovative buildings.”Over his illustrious career, Hill has won a string of major awards, notably the Australian Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal (2006), the international Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001, the Kenneth F. Brown Asia Pacific Culture and the Singapore President’s Design Award (2010). In 2012, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
We remember Kerry Hill’s invaluable contributions to architecture by looking back at the beginnings of his career and some of his career-defining works.
From WA to South-East Asia
Kerry Hill began his architectural career at Howlett and Bailey in Perth, after graduating from university 1968. Gradually, he began to branch out worldwide, holding a position at Palmer and Turner in Hong Kong, which saw him designing works from across Asia and beyond: India, Bhutan, Japan, China, Croatia, Jordan, Spain and the Middle East. In 1975, Hill founded his own Singapore-based practice, Kerry Hill Architects, which also had an office in Perth.Hill was known for his meticulously ordered designs inspired by modernist legends such as Louis Khan, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. His unique style also aligned with the architectural traditions and sensibilities of the East, influenced largely by his friendship with Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa.
Notable Australian Works
Despite his international stature, Hill’s Australian works remain great achievements, particularly his landmark works in his home city. In Perth, Hill designed the State Theatre Centre of WA, Como The Treasury Hotel and the City of Perth Library. For the latter two works, Hill won WA’s highest architectural honour, the George Temple Poole award, in 2016. It was the first time the award had been won by two works.Hill was also awarded the 2003 Robin Boyd Award for Residential Buildings for his design of Ogilvie House at Sunshine Beach and the 1998 RAIA National Commendation for Residential Buildings for the Ooi House at Margaret River.
Innovative design in Asia
Kerry Hill Architects was known for their design work for high-end hotel chain Aman Resorts, along with condominiums Martin No. 38 in Martin Road and Hana in Tomlinson Road. In 2010, Hill won the President’s Design Award for Designer of the Year.In an interview with The Straits Times after garnering the win, Hill spoke about his architectural style, which is broadly defined by its tranquility, boldness and elegance. “Good architecture speaks to the senses,” he stated, “it cannot rely on image alone”.
Hill was incredibly grateful for the win, stating: “I feel honour and gratitude. Having lived and worked in Singapore for more than 30 years, I feel I have finally been adopted.”Hill’s notable work in regional Asia include The Datai Hotel in Langkawi and The Lalu Hotel at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan. Recently, Hill’s designs for the Japanese Amanemu resort in Shima won the 2017 Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture by the Australian Institute of Architects, and 2017 Building of the Year by the Singapore Institute of Architects.
Over the years, Hill’s work has not only been a monumental contribution to spaces across the world, but has also influenced other professionals. Erwin J. S. Viray, an editor and researcher, states that a “school” of architectural practice has emerged, demonstrating Hill’s definitive influence, seen in the work of architects such as WOHA’s Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell, Cheong Yew Kuan, Ernesto Bedmar of Bedmar and Shi, and Richard Ho.After being awarded the Australian Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal, Hill also paid homage to those who came before him and those who would come after: “I am reminded of an old Chinese proverb. The future is only the past again – entered through another gate.’”