Harry Seidler’s Iconic Mosman House

Many of us are familiar with Parriwi Road in Mosman but how many of us know about The Igloo House? This house (pictured above), known more formally as the George Williamson House, was designed by famous Architect Harry Seidler in 1951.

The house which is located on the eastern side of Parriwi Rd is known for its unusual twin-arched garages and light concrete body set on poles on the waterfront cliff. The property was listed on the State Heritage Register in 2002 and is significant in many ways. The Igloo House was the first house in Australia to use flat-slab construction,with special concrete developed by a Sydney engineer,Peter Miller, that did away with heavy foundations. It is an iconic example of modern architecture in Australia during the post-war period.

Harry Seidler photo
Harry Seidler at Igloo House (source: Fairfax, 2002)

Well, people were very curious about the look of the place from the street, because they gave it the name ‘igloo house’. I don’t know why because it’s got two arched forms for the double garage and that also had a structural reason, in that it had to put its load sideways into the roof slab rather than putting vertical walls onto that slab. That’s a structural reason, but it’s an aesthetic one as well. People were curious about the look of it, and they still are, it seems – Harry Seidler (ABC Radio, 2002).

Although the house has been subject to several alterations since construction, it is still in good condition and there are approved plans, also designed by Seidler around 2005, to increase the size of the house. You can watch a short news clip on YouTube from when the house was last for sale.

There was another Harry Seidler house in Mosman called the Lowe House. It was located in Mcleod St and was built in 1950. Sadly it was demolished in 1988.

A major exhibition by Sydney Living Museums about the work and life of Harry Seidler is on now at the Museum of Sydney until 8 March 2015. Check out their website for more information.