Sydney Ancher

Major (Rtd) Sydney Edward Cambrian Ancher (25 February 1904  8 December 1979), was an Australian architect from Woollahra, Sydney. His fascination with Europe contributed to the introduction of European internationalism in Australia. He also had a significant impact on the establishment of modern domestic architecture.

Early life

Sydney Ancher was the son of New Zealand journalist Edward Albert Ancher and his Australian wife Ethel Puah, née Parsons. He was educated at Mosman Superior Public, North Sydney Boys’ High and Sydney Technical High School.

Architectural career

Ancher's early architectural experience was with firms such as; E.W.S Wakeley, Wunderlich Ltd (specialists in terracotta products, patent ceilings and roofing), Ross & Rowe, Prevost (A practice specializing in residential projects) and Synnot & Ruwald. From 1921 he attended 'night classes' at Sydney Technical College and qualified as an architect in 1929. In 1930 he was awarded the Australian Medallion and travelling scholarship of the Board of Architects of New South Wales.

Arriving in London, Ancher worked in an office with architects Cyril Farey, a perspectivist, and Joseph Emberton, a modernist. Travelling extensively within Europe he became fascinated with European architecture. He witnessed Mies van der Rohe’s at the Wessenhof-Siedlung housing colony at Stuttgart, Germany, and the 1931 building exhibition in Berlin. His idols were Van der Rohe and Le Corbusier.

From 1926 Ancher worked for Emil Sodersten, a Functionalist & Modernist, and then with Reginald A. de T. Prevost, a practice that considers architectural harmony and human scale within residential projects. After his travels in Europe between 1930 and 1936, Ancher introduced European ideas to the Australian suburbs, these included; flat roofs, strong clear rectangular shapes, and smooth, white renders. The partnership of Prevost & Ancher began in 1937, after he had contributed to the design of the Prevost family's avant-garde house in Bellevue Hill. The partnership was involved in hotel design, but in January 1939 he travelled to England with his wife, in search of creative design opportunities. After attending four lectures by Frank Lloyd Wright he travelled to Denmark, Sweden and Finland, where he was captivated by the modern buildings before returning to Sydney in 1939.

On 3 June 1940 Ancher enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a sapper, serving in the Middle East until 1942. He practised engineering and architecture at the Land Headquarters in Melbourne where he was appointed Major on 28 July 1944. He was reassigned to the reserve of officers at the commonwealth experimental building station.

In 1945 Ancher resumed his private practice, designing approximately ten houses per year for six years.

In 1952 Ancher created a partnership with two of his assistants Ancher, Mortlock & Murray. This firm designed the ”Dream Home” in the Parade of Homes at Killarney Heights in the 1960s. The Dream Home was won by entrants to a Woman’s Day competition and the Killarney Heights development was undertaken by LJ Hooker.[1] From 1960 the practice expanded into designing government buildings and by 1964 Ken Wooley had joined.


In 1945, Ancher was awarded with the Sulman for his own house, Poyntzfield, in Maytone Avenue, Killara. Following his retirement from the practice in 1966, he dedicated his time to architectural education, for which he received the Royal Australian Institution of Architecture Gold Medal in 1975

Notable Projects

  • Prevost House, Sydney, NSW, 1935 [1]
  • Ancher House, 3 Maytone Avenue, Killara, NSW, 1945 [2]
  • Farley House, North Curl Curl, NSW, 1948 [3]
  • House, Killeaton Street, St Ives, NSW, 1950 [4]
  • Sydney Ancher House, Sydney, NSW, 1957 [5]

Family life

On 26 November 1926 he married Aaletha Ethel Hasemer, a stenographer, at the Presbyterian Church, Mosman, Australia.


Ancher retired in 1966. His wife died in 1970 and he died on 8 December 1979 in hospital at Waratah. He was cremated.


  1. “Premier Opens £1/4m Parade Of Master-built Homes”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 April 1963. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
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