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92/1994 Architectural model and cover, 'The House of the Future', acrylic, designed by architect Harry Seidler in 1954, made by R & F Porter Modelmakers Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 1992. Click to enlarge.

‘House of the Future’ by Harry Seidler

Designed
In 1954 Sydney hosted one of the first national conferences of the Australian Institute of Architects. The featured guest was modernism founding father Walter Gropius. His former student Harry Seidler designed the Architectural and Building Exhibition (sponsored by the Australian Women's Weekly) and mounted at Sydney Town Hall to coincide with the conference.

The exhibition was sponsored by the Australian Women's Weekly, and its centrepiece was Seidler's House of the Future, a steel home prefabricated at Sydney's Armco factory. Restricted to one-bedroom size by the space available in the exhibition, the house was notable for its modular kitchen and bathroom units, as well as its 'outstanding feature … the entire northern wall of glass in fixed and in sliding frames … All rooms, including the kitchen, face this wall'. Press coverage of the 'revolutionary' house was sympathetic, and visitors queued to see it.

More than an advertisement for contemporary design, the house was promoted as an answer to the housing shortage by demonstrating the potential of prefabrication: 'The house was planned by architect Harry Seidler for streamline production as a solution to the housing problem. Mr Seidler claims that the present housing dilemma is due to cumbersome handicraft methods and wasteful man-hours involved in present day building'.

Charles Pickett, Curator, 1992

Summary

Object No.

92/1994

Object Statement

Architectural model and cover, 'The House of the Future', acrylic, designed by architect Harry Seidler in 1954, made by R & F Porter Modelmakers Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 1992

Physical Description

Acrylic model, painted white of a one storey rectangular shaped house, with a flat roof. The structure has a skylight and a glazed northern wall. The model is secured to a flat base which has been painted grey. The model has a removable clear acrylic cover.

Dimensions

Height

550 mm

Width

840 mm

Depth

840 mm

Production

Designed

Notes

The house of the future was designed by Harry Seidler in 1954, the model was made in Sydney by R & F Model Makers in 1992.

It was one of three models - The House of Tomorrow, The House of the Future and the Split Level house - which represent three highly significant housing designs. Together they serve to illustrate some of the major shifts in Australian architectural practice from the 1940s though to the 1960s. The style and construction of the houses also reflect the changing social, ecomonic and industrial circumstances of the period.

Harry Seidler (1923-2006) was born in Vienna and fled Nazism via England, Canada and the USA where at Harvard University he was a student of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Seidler visited Sydney in 1948 to design a home for his parents. His intended return to the USA was halted by numerous requests to design houses similar to Rose Seidler house.

Seidler was one of a generation of new arrivals who internationalised an Anglophile outpost. Another was Dutch engineer Dick Dusseldorp who engaged Seidler to design numerous projects for his Lend Lease construction company. Among these were sophisticated but affordable apartment blocks which lent glamour and liveability to inner city living. Others included major urban redevelopments designed around office towers; Australian Square was the first of these. Seidler also found success internationally, his Australian Embassy in Paris the best-known of several off-shore commissions.

No architect has had a greater impact on Sydney through both his own work and its influence on others. Although Harry Seidler's Modernism was shaped by Europe and the US, Sydney also formed his work and his social presence. Often caricatured as a doctrinaire modernist, Seidler tailored most of his work to Sydney's climate and topography. Some of his best buildings – Blues Point Tower, Australia Square to name but two - were also his most controversial. As a polemicist, Seidler was less compromising but Sydney's urban culture benefited from his scorn of the second-rate in design and decision-making. His donation of this model, among others, was typical of his generosity to the Powerhouse and the arts community.

In addition to numerous awards received locally, such as the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal, in 1996 Seidler was the recipient of the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal.

History

Notes

The model was commissioned for the Powerhouse Museum exhibition 'The Australian Dream: Design of the Fifities', 1992-1993.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1992

Acquisition Date

30 December 1992

Cite this Object

Harvard

'House of the Future' by Harry Seidler 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 October 2020, <https://ma.as/126243>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/126243 |title='House of the Future' by Harry Seidler |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 October 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}