ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Australian Architecture : Harry Siedler

Updated on December 30, 2017

Did Seidler’s MLC Centre and the Capita Centre show a new way forward in high rise design.

Harry Seidler is a true child of the International Style; he was born in Austria, educated in Britain and the US, and is now living in Australia. He is widely regarded as one of the leading architects in this country. Considered a member of the third generation of twentieth century architects1., Seidler has maintained his faith in the modernist teachings of his mentors Gropius and Breuer. In many ways he has taken what was best and worked to improve those areas that were conflicted. Gropius’s teaching of a design process that included social use, aesthetics and technology2. remain the heaviest influence on Seidler’s approach. It is these qualities that are visible also in the high rise buildings to be discussed, namely the MLC Centre, 1972-78 and the Capita Centre, 1984-89.

While a true disciple of modernism in the sense of pursuing standardized, prefabricated machine made elements, Seidler’s structural rationalization and interest in Baroque type geometries of undulating curves and complicated structural solutions, often add interest to the repetitive elements used. As such his work avoids much of the criticism thrown at the bland Miesian boxes that plagued many cities and was giving the modernist aesthetic such a poor image.

Sydney’s commercial center is notorious for its mediocrity and ill planning. Most often, tall office buildings are designed to stand separately, resulting in a disjointing and fragmentation of the city. Seidler’s towers, by opening up their ground floors to pedestrians, help to create a more coherent and inclusive urban space. In both cases here a restricted site has been utilized to clever effect.

In the case of the MLC center, the geometrical planning around an irregular octagon avoided other services below and also presented an opportunity to emphasise the importance of the building by isolating it. Seidler has commented on the ground floor of any office block as being essentially for vertical travel by workers, leaving the remaining space over for public use. Use of curved and directional devices such as specific paving patterns further direct the user from the public street.

The Capita Centre also provides a pedestrian access, integrating the building more to those at road level and also making use of specific devices such as art and landscaping to entice the user through.

As they are more interactive at ground level, these buildings must then offer interest at this level. The structural rationalism and complex spatial effects Seidler uses creates intricate and interesting patterning, resulting in a more received language for those outside as well as inside the buildings, unlike many of the glass boxes. Such structural complexity and interest can be seen in the MLC Centre’s twisting columns, scooped window/shade beams and expressed ceiling structure, while the Capita Center’s exposed structure and dramatic atrium perform this role.

Both towers represent, apart from this social function, another element of the modernist manifesto successfully, that is the use of technology as paramount to progress. In the case of the Capita Centre in particularly, the building takes on the challenge of the small, crowded, dark city block and through vigorous appraisal, cleverly humane thinking and technological daring, lets in the light. Light penetrates the central core of the building, scooping from one side to the other in plan and section. As such it recognizes the comfort of users at all levels. Landscaping at various levels tributes Corbusier’s ‘gardens in the air’, confirming Harry Seidler’s loyalty to the modernist ideal of making cities more humane places to be in. With his work Seidler manages to maintain this ideal and continue the modernist tradition by practicing an architecture of integrity and inclusion.


Blake, Peter., Architecture for the New World. The work of Harry Seidler, Horwitz Australia Ltd., Sydney, 1973

Drew, Philip., Two Towers Harry Seidler: Australia Square MLC Center, Horwitz Graham Books, Sydney, 1980.

Master Architects Series III, Harry Seidler Selected and Current Works, Ed. Stephen Dobney, The Images Publishing Group Pty. Ltd., North Ryde, 1997.

1. Peter Blake, Arxhitecture for the New World. The work of Harry Seidler, Horwitz Australia ltd., Sydney, 1973, p.7

2. ibid., p.232


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)