Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wahroonga revisited


I had to go back. As wonderful as the cast of thousands had been at the Fifties Fair, I wanted
to see Rose Seidler House on its lonesome. I'm so glad I did. You really need to be there with
only the birds for company to fully appreciate how special both setting and house are.

Architect Harry Seidler designed the home for his mum, Rose, in 1948. Fresh from his training
in America under the modernist master, Walter Gropius, Seidler was horrified by Australia's
suburban "architectural wasteland" and its lack of connection with the natural landscape.
Rose Seidler House was his first opportunity to advertise another way of living. The elevated
cube, devoid of pitched roof or solid brick walls and with a view from every angle, demonstrated
just how interconnected a home and its surrounds could be. A little hairy perhaps in bushfire season 
but in all other respects the ideal Australian home.

I eventually dragged myself away to try and find another Wahroonga architectural anomaly -
Bruce Rickard's Marshall House. I wasn't able to spy it unfortunately but in my search I found
this walls-of-glass number.

The kind owner let me have a peek inside and informed me it was a 1969 Gerry Rippon house.
The black and white stripes made me think of a giant Liquorice Allsorts while the criss-crossed 
ceiling brought to mind the Cherry Blossom down the road. Like Rose Seidler House, it seems to
welcome the landscape in with open arms and celebrates Australia's riches of sun, light and air.


The verdict... In the admittedly brief time I'd spent in Wahroonga, had I found beauty in the 'burb?
Certainly many would consider the suburb 'beautiful', filled with grand mansions and manicured
within-an-inch-of-their-lives gardens. But where I found joy was in its temporary infiltration by
a frenzy of 50's fans and a few buildings that seemed completely out of place - and yet so perfectly
at home in the country we live in.


One down, 51 suburbs to go... Next week 52 Suburbs is visiting a suburb I've never been to and
have no idea about - Lakemba. But I suspect it'll be about as far away from Wahroonga in every
respect as you could get.


  1. Interesting. Looking forward to your photos of architecture in Castlecrag. I know Richard LePlastrier and enjoyed seeing Sydney through his eyes, we drove to Leura to a house he designed and then visited a house Glenn Murcutt designed in Mt Wilson. There was a lyrebird in the bush valley.

  2. I've always wondered what the Gerry Rippon house looked like inside. It's fab. Thanks for showing me. :D


  3. you are so lucky to step inside this gerry rippon house, i've been a long time admirer.
    your photography is beautiful also.

  4. love love love your photos! just gorgeous...will add your blog to my favourites right now!!!

    hope you venture to the lovely northern beaches! we have some lovely old P&O houses and of course....beaches!!!

    I love how you found so much beauty in lakemba and all we get on the news is the bad stuff that goes down in south west sydney!


  5. Gerry Rippon's house is universally (well, Any-Kid-Who-Went-To-A-School-On-The-Upper-North-Shore-ally) known as the Licorice Allsort House.

    It's also rumoured to be haunted, although 'rumuored' is the keyword here.

  6. HOW amusing that you all think of OUR House as the "licorice allsorts".... fools... it's NOT black... it's "Cabots" forest green (or was in 1970) there... now you know.... p.s. I still have the original drawings (circa 1969 by draftsman wascko (who worked for gerry for many years) (and taught me almost everything I know!!!).... and very much enjoyed living and partying in the house... for 16 years....

    Much love to you all... and thanks for noticing...


    p.s. yes ... Gerry is still alive ... just...

  7. Scott - So glad you stumbled across your own house (!) and that there are so many admirers out there. And thanks for correcting all of us poor misguided souls - GREEN, of course - how could we have missed it! It's a beautiful thing, black or green. Glad to hear its creator is still around.

  8. Thanks Louise... love your photos and comments.... Yep ... it's GREEN... but NO ... it's not haunted ... and so says Lady Margaret Rippon... XXX

    Love your work!!!

    Scott L Rippon

  9. Is "Meep" Mrs Jansen?

    Scott L Rippon

  10. OK, I know .... but just had to tell "Corrie" that there are at least 3 Gerry Rippon Houses on the Northern Beaches.... GO SEARCHING!......i will help if need be........XXXX

  11. Great page and thanks for giving us a peek inside the Rippon house. Next time you are in the area, check out Russell Jack and Keith Cottier's 1957 Sulman Award winning house at 62 Boundary Road.

  12. Sorry, that was Russell Jack and John Allen. Cottier came later to form AJ+C.

  13. Hi Louise.

    I'm absolutely devastated as I have just recently learned the "Maslon" house by Richard Neutra in Palm Springs CA has been demolished.

    This is nothing short of architectural rape.

    I would cheerfully shoot those resposible.

    I know this is a long way from our home but no less important. It's up to us to save these treasures and I thank you for your efforts in this regard.

    If we all do nothing then the developers win...

    Love your photos and your comments.

    Let us hope that no such rapine will be allowed by our councils..... It Had better NOT!!


  14. Oh i grew up going to many many homes in Wahroonga owned by friends at school. Always divine, the gardens, pools, tennis courts. I have driven past that Rippon house as the stripes were something i always looked for on trips to play sport etc. Never expected it to look like that inside, what a lot of space & volume. So wonderful!! They might be posh & polite around those parts (I'm now living in Canberra) but always kind & generous, so glad you were allowed in for a snap shot. Love Posie

  15. I was born in Sydney and have always had a love affair of types with the place. Ive lived overseas for the past 10 years or so and am returning to my beloved city very soon. My grandfather was a talented builder and architecture is in my blood. I find it very interesting to read your blog. Perhaps you will shed some light on where we will start this new adventure. Interestingly I am drawn to the beauty of the Wahroonga area.

  16. Posie - There are some pretty amazing spreads in Wahroonga. And I agree, it was very kind and generous of the lady in the Rippon house to let me have a peek. Thanks for commenting and hope Canberra's treating you well.

    Anonymous - So glad you're enjoying the project- and that it may even inspire some ideas about where to live next! Happy searching.


  17. Well done. I grew up on the north shore in the 80s and have loved the Rippon house passionately since I was 12. It has given me a great love of modern architecture.
    Thanks for posting those

  18. My parents almost bought the Gerry Rippon but they didn't! So annoyed.

  19. OMG i'm so in love with that Gerry Rippon house. Every time I drive by I stare at it (prob should stop doing that), because I'm in love.

    Thanks so much for showing me some more of it!

  20. If you look carefully at the next piece of liquorice (correct spelling in Australia) you bite into you will find it is green. But it no way lessens the impact of this great house. This is what is worth saving in our suburbs, not all those faux french federation facsimiles. Well done Mr Rippon Snr.

  21. Thanks tone, i'm not sure about the whole liquorice (sp?) thing and really don't care.
    "The" house was, and always was, designed, by Gerry & Margaret, for us. Our family and friends had many fun and great times and parties in the house. I'm so pleased, and i am sure Gerry would be aswell, that you like the building.
    Sadly, we lost Gerry last April, but his many fine buildings have left us with a legacy well worth saving, as you have astutely observed.

    Mr Rippon Jnr. (scott) :)