In the entire history of the show I'd never featured a house quite like this one. It was the furthest we'd ever stayed from the coast to film a Sandcastle. There was no architect to interview, the original clients had left the scene and the builder wanted the house to do the talking. At the time of filming Penelope Seidler, Harry's wife and fellow architect, was overseas and unavailable and others who worked on the project had moved on or were on holidays. With no one to talk to, I refused to let this minor detail stand in the way. After all this was a chance to profile one of Australia's most iconic pieces of design, in one of the most dramatic locations you can possibly imagine.
We managed to track down the current owner of the house, Andrew Martin who agreed to let us film and share his thoughts of being the latest custodian. The fact is the reputation of the house precedes it. On arrival you are immediately drawn out to the end of the catwalk balcony. As Andrew said only the brave venture out here. His Labrador dog refuses to walk to the end! But for those without vertigo the experience is worth the rapid heartbeats. Inside the glass pavilion you feel completely safe and secure, surrounded by panoramic views of the valley. Although the engineering is slender you instinctively know that you are anchored to the rock and the forces of nature swirling outside are under control.
When we were there the winds blew hard. Our cameraman clocked them at 90km/hour making our autopilot chopper shots impossible. Then on the day we were leaving, the Southern Highlands was under threat of bush fire. The Hume highway was cut and we were faced with the prospect of having to bunker down in the house.
What an experience. Although at heart I am a modernist, I understand a lot of people feel isolated by its purists doctrines. I can assure you that this house combines the practicality of the Bauhaus with the grace and beauty of softening curves and warm open fireplaces. This is a great house not because it was designed by Harry Seidler - but because it’s a spectacular response to an equally spectacular location, a piece of sculpture as well as a liveable home.
By the way it took us four and half hours to drive home to Sydney that night as the city was surrounded by the worst bush fires in 10 years. But the house is ok and was never under any direct threat.