The exterior of Harry Seidler’s Gissing House is unashamedly raw. Located in Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia, it was originally built by Harry Seidler and Associates in 1972 for Janet Gissing and her husband John.
It would be simplistic to call this house brutalist simply because it features a few dashes of exposed concrete. But there are other elements which lend the house to being labelled in this way.
The rawness of the rest of the brick work is one tell-tale sign, as well as the sense of discontinuity throughout the structure.
Also, the exposure of the house’s engineering, in elements like the intersection of the roof beams, the sheer brick walls separating the stairs from the living area, and the exposure of the wood grain that cast the concrete blocks (most notable in the image of the dining area).
It was only after John Gissing purchased land in Wahroonga that the couple secured Seidler as architect of the prospective build.
Janet had earlier befriended Seidler’s wife Penelope and subsequently became an admirer of Seidler’s architecture. After the two couples met again at a dinner party in Seidler’s house, they asked him to design their house.
As a result of a smaller property and tighter budget, the house is a smaller version of Seidler’s own home. It is perhaps due to this that the Gissing House sheds some of its precursor’s more imposing qualities.
In the tighter constraints, the home has almost as many rooms but offers greater intensity, with the arrangement of Breuer furniture around the fireplace and abstract painting in the background perhaps the best indicator of a distinctly maximalist design.
This intensity does make it a somewhat overloaded feast for the eyes, but by all accounts, the home was a success. Something well demonstrated by the fact that the Gissing family occupied the house until 2008, living there continuously for over 36 years.
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Photos via Modernhouse