Architect Hugo Stossel, born in Hungary but trained in Rome and Vienna, arrived in Sydney as a refugee from Nazism in 1939.

During the war he worked as a project manager for Cody & Willis, a construction firm engaged mostly on government projects. He also took on some private work, including the design of Australia’s first prefabricated steel house, erected by the Arcos Electric Arc Welding Products company in the Sydney suburb of Ryde in 1946.

Stossel Buffet Automat Bucharest

Hugo Stossel (centre) standing in front of the Buffet Automat, his first commission in Bucharest, built 1933-34. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums.

Stossel became a naturalised Australian citizen in 1945 and 12 months later applied for registration as an architect in NSW.  In support of his application he listed several large projects with which he had been involved between 1933 and 1938 in Bucharest, Romania, submitting photographs and letters of reference.

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Stossel's Modernist Houses

In the early postwar years, Hugo Stossel designed several small modernist houses for fellow émigrés.  The first was built in 1948 at Warrawee on Sydney’s upper north shore for Moses Eisner and his wife, Gisela. Polish-born Eisner was the director of the Arcos steel company.  Also built in 1948 was a house in Wahroonga for company director Rudolf Nossal and his family, from Vienna. In 1950 Stossel designed a house for his own family in East Lindfield, and another nearby for Viennese-born furniture designer Paul Kafka and his wife, Ilse.  A fifth north shore house was built in 1952–53 on Collaroy Plateau for Swiss-born Walter Schwarz and his wife, Alison.  The houses were featured in Sydney newspapers or published in magazines such as The Australian Women’s Weekly and Australian House & Garden.  All of Stossel’s houses, including two built in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in the 1950s, are boldly geometric and feature open living spaces adjoining outdoor terraces.

Further information about the Hugo Stossel collection can be found on our Library Catalogue.