Godsell was born in Melbourne, Australia, the son of David Godsell, also an architect. In his early years he lived in Beaumaris and attended Kostka Hall a preparatory school to Xavier College where he completed his secondary education. He later studied at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1984. He also undertook postgraduate study at RMIT. From 1986 to 1988 he worked in the London office of Sir Denys Lasdun, returning to Australia in 1989. In 1994, Godsell established his own practice in Melbourne. In 1980 and 1981, Godsell played for St Kilda in the Victorian Football League. He made two VFL appearance and kicked two goals. His work has been published in the world's leading Architectural journals including Architectural Review (UK) Architectural Record (USA) Domus (Italy) A+U (Japan) Casabella (Italy) GA Houses (Japan) Detail (Germany) Le Moniteur (France) and Architect (Portugal). In July 2002 the influential English design magazine wallpaper listed him as one of ten people destined to ‘change the way we live’. He was the only Australian and the only Architect in the group. He has lectured in the USA, UK, China, Japan, India, France, Italy and New Zealand as well as across Australia. He was a keynote speaker at the Alvar Aalto symposium in Finland in July 2006. In July 2003 he received a Citation from the President of the American Institute of Architects for his work for the homeless. His Future Shack prototype was exhibited from May to October 2004 at the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York. In the same year the Italian publisher Electa published the monograph Sean Godsell: Works and Projects. Time Magazine named him in the ‘Who's Who -The New Contemporaries’ section of their 2005 Style and Design supplement. He was the only Australian and the only Architect in the group of seven eminent designers. In July 2013 he was visiting professor at Iuav University of Venice and delivered the UNESCO chair open lecture in Mantova, Italy.