Moves to protect architecturally valuable Flood Street synagogue

4 August 2023

Waverley Council is inviting the community to provide feedback about the proposed heritage listing of the 1950s Harry Seidler-designed synagogue at 34 Flood Street, Bondi.

The Planning Proposal is on public exhibition until Thursday 14 September at haveyoursay.waverley.nsw.gov.au/heritage-listing-34-flood-street. The Department of Planning and Environment is the consenting authority.

The synagogue is recognised as a ground-breaking building for its time and displays architect Seidler’s distinctive interpretation of the Bauhaus style.

Image: Max Dupain, copyright Penelope Seidler

The it also has strong historical significance for the development of Jewish religion in NSW because it is the first Talmudical school with integral synagogue.

A detailed Heritage Assessment of 34 Flood Street prepared in May 2023 by Hector Abrahams Architects determined that the synagogue (located at the front of the block) has heritage significance, rendering it worthy of local heritage listing in the Waverley Local Environmental Plan (WLEP) 2012.

Specifically, the assessment found that the synagogue and former Sydney Talmudical College has heritage significance as:

  • A seminal work in the civic and sculptural concrete architecture of the pre-eminent Australian Modern architect Harry Seidler, displaying the application of Bauhaus principles for which he is known
  • The largest and best example of thin concrete shell technology of the 1950s in NSW
  • One of the most architecturally distinguished religious chambers of the immediate post-war period in NSW and one of the finest synagogues of the period
  • An historically important place in the development of Jewish religion in NSW, the post-war migration period, as the first Talmudical school with integral synagogue
  • Highly representative of the history of post-war migration in NSW, being the establishment of a new religious building and educational institution by a migrant community
  • A place held in high esteem by the Jewish community of Waverley and broader afield.

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos said it was important to preserve both community spaces and the distinctive and valuable architecture of the local area.

“This is the cherished home of a local religious community and we need to prioritise that among other priorities,” Mayor Masselos said.

“The building also represents the history of a migrant and religious community and so it’s vital that the building be preserved.”

Heritage listing the building as an item under the Waverley Local Environmental Plan (WLEP) 2012 will provide ongoing protection and recognition of the heritage significance of the building and its interiors.

To amend the WLEP 2012, the Council needed to submit a Planning Proposal to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) which the DPE supported to proceed to public exhibition.

Once public exhibition closes, a report will be prepared for Council for its consideration later in the year. DPE will then consider a recommendation from Council before deciding whether to heritage-list the building.

Please note that this Planning Proposal to heritage list the building is entirely separate to Meriton’s recent Planning Proposal, which requests to change the zone of 34 Flood Street, Bondi. The exhibition period for that rezoning has now closed.

-ENDS-

Media inquiries: media@waverley.nsw.gov.au or 0416 075 532.