Open House: Rose Seidler House / dec 27

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When designing a house, the contemporary architect thinks of an ‘environment for living’ rather than of empty box-like rooms … he designs actual spaces in the interior for specific purposes and designs the furnishings and equipment that go into them.

Harry Seidler, 19521

By the time Rose and Max Seidler moved in to their new home in late 1950, it was the ‘most talked about house in Sydney’.2 Designed by their son Harry, the house was his first commission in Australia yet it seemed almost from another world. Hovering at the edge of the bush, its stark, cube-like form sent shockwaves through the leafy tranquility of Sydney’s upper north shore, then still more rural than suburban.

Sydney at the time was emerging from decades of restrictions and shortages following the depression and war years, and a fresh optimism was spreading through the housing industry. Arriving from New York, the young Harry Seidler was one of a number of architects exploring a new kind of architecture that looked to the future rather than to the traditions of the past. Seidler shared with them a concern for simplicity and function, for new materials and technologies, and new kinds of relationships between built forms and the landscape and in the arrangement of internal spaces. Yet as expressed in the Rose Seidler House, the strength and daring of Seidler’s vision was unique, and it both excited and divided the profession as much as the public.