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Seidler House, Killara

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13 Kalang Avenue, Killara, was the first house designed by Harry and Penelope Seidler for their own family. Harry Seidler’s architectural practice was thriving and this house represented the state of the art for the period. When finished in 1967, it received critical acclaim, winning the prestigious Wilkinson Award for Residential Buildings from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. The property, still owned by the Seidler family, overlooks Ku-ring-gai National Park.

When an architect and his wife, who is also an architect, set out to build their own house for the first time, the choice of site and location is as telling of their attitudes as the design of the house itself … Although located in an established living area it has no neighbours as it is surrounded by natural bush reserve which assures complete privacy. The site is however very rugged which would discourage most people from building. In this case this was considered an advantage and even a challenge.

("Architects' own house", Architecture in Australia, April 1968, p.313-7) 

Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
Max Dupain
Digital ID: 
a2817003
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Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Max Dupain
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Digital ID: 
a2817004
Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Max Dupain
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Digital ID: 
a2817005
Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Max Dupain
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Digital ID: 
a2817006
Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Max Dupain
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Digital ID: 
a2817007
Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Max Dupain
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Digital ID: 
a2817008
Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Max Dupain
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Digital ID: 
a2817009
Seidler house, Killara, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Max Dupain
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Digital ID: 
a2817010

Although the house is located in the north shore suburb of Killara, its privacy is maintained thanks to the steep valley and bushland surrounding the site. Outlook is onto natural bushland from the three split levels of the house. There is also a creek running at the bottom of the garden, which turns into a gushing waterfall during rainy periods. The difficult, sloping site provided scope for a 'vertical' dimension in design, not only in the siting and approach of the house but also in the interior due to the resulting multi-level design, following the contours of the land.

"The main aesthetic aim of the house is not only to have horizontal freedom of space but by fusing and opening the various levels into each other and by ‘pulling them apart’ and thereby creating a two-and-a-half storey high open shaft between them to add a vertical interplay of space. There are glimpses of through views from the different levels giving always a sense of the areas beyond without any blunt openness of planning."

("Architects' own house", Architecture in Australia, April 1968, p.313-7)

Seidler house, Kalang Ave., Killara, NSW, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Harry Seidler
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Digital ID: 
a2816002
Seidler house, Kalang Ave., Killara, NSW, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Harry Seidler
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Digital ID: 
a2816004
Seidler house, Kalang Ave., Killara, NSW, 1966-1967
1966-1967
Harry Seidler
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Digital ID: 
a2816005

The site of Seidler House is a broken, ruggedly sloping area cut by huge rock ledges and overshadowed by large eucalyptus trees. The house consists of four split levels built into the steep slope of the land. The main approach to the house from the street is via the garage and an entry bridge leading to the upper floor.

"The top level on the north accommodates kitchen and dining room, and on the south the library-study … The second level down, on the north consists of the main living area and, on the south, the master bedroom suite. The third level down, on the north contains the children’s play room and, on the east and south, three children’s bedrooms … The bottom level had a studio on the north, the laundry and a self-contained guest suite with its own kitchen, on the south and west. Every level has a bathroom, all of which are grouped vertically."

("Architects' own house", Architecture in Australia, April 1968, p.313-7)

In designing the house, the main aim was to extend the horizontal freedom of space vertically by opening the various levels into each other and creating a two-and-a-half storey high open shaft between them to add a vertical interplay of space. 

This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of Penelope Seidler AM and the late Harry Seidler OBE.