The 'Cliff Hanger' or as we like to call it the Seidler House. Designed by the late great Harry Seidler during his final years of practice.
"It’s a partnership with nature - we fitted the house into its setting" - was the summary Harry gave to his awe inspiring design.
Built 300m above the valley floor, it defies gravity and convention. It was Seidler who said he wanted to create something that would not only defy gravity but also be 'poetic and beautiful'.
Made of concrete, steel and glass this modernist palette is dovetailed into natural stone. The site is enormous taking up some 150 acres of a natural bush gorge, including 2km of the Wingecarribee River. Siting the house is stuff of legend. The thought was that perhaps the house should have been down closer to the river, but the possibility of flooding ruled that out, so a site was found on top of the untamed cliff among a jagged rocky outcrop. Local sandstone blocks were brought in to level the area before the white lined house could begin.
The house is planned in two halves. One half containing four bedrooms and its own separate sitting area, then half a level down you come into the signature space, the open planned living room with Seidler's ever present free standing stone fire place, with the cantilevering catwalk suspended out over the cliff edge. Next to the house is a double garage with a curved roof echoing the adjacent house.
The house is imbued with the spirit of its master. It effortlessly combines the beauty of opposing forces, gravity versus suspension, man made versus nature, curves versus straight lines and Harry versus council. The house was built in the late 1990's and at the time the local council had rejected the design. Harry's account of what happened is that, 'they thought it didn't fit into its surrounds - but what surrounds? As there is not another man made object in sight let alone any other architectural context." Of course Harry took the council to court and the night before the ruling, the council relented and approved the design. After 50 years of fighting for his designs Harry had had enough and this time he demanded that his legal bill be paid for - yep he won that as well.
Seidler was well into his 70's when he designed this house - what confidence and daring to take on the forces of nature as well as those who said it couldn't or shouldn't be done.
Harry claimed that he'd never designed a house quite like this one - and boy who could argue.
PHOTOGRPAHY @ ERIC SIERINS
During the episode we got the opportunity to make an interview with Helen O'Neill who has just published a book on Harry Seidler called A Singular Vision.
PUBLICATION DATE - 4 November 2013
Harbdack - ISBN:9780732296742; RRP $49.99 E-book - available