Industry Divided Over Sirius Building Government Decision


The announcement by the NSW Government that the Sirius Building in the Rocks will not receive heritage listing opens the way for a sympathetic yet modern replacement, The Urban Taskforce of Australia has said, while the Institute of Architects has described the ruling as "disappointing."Former Archibald winner Del Kathryn Barton has named the decision a "tragedy," on 702 ABC Sydney.

The Government's decision was made despite recommendations from the Heritage Council in February which unanimously recommended Sirius be protected.

Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson said his organisation believed a new building could be put toward innovative social housing.

“The Minister for Heritage, Mark Speakman, has not supported the nomination of the Sirius Building in the Rocks as a state heritage item,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson.

“The Urban Taskforce agrees with the Minister that the building is of dubious heritage value and that a new building could yield significant funds for social housing.”

“We are however concerned by statements by the Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet that a replacement building should be made of brick and stone. The current Sirius Building was very innovatory in its day and while it is in the brutalist architectural style that many people are not comfortable with, it did attempt to be of its time rather than a pastiche of the past. It is important that a replacement building is about the spirit of today while understanding its context.”

“A good example of the blending of new and old is demonstrated by the new building over the ‘Money Box’ building in Martin Place. The modern interpretation of the proportions and scale of the existing façade have been carried into a modern glass office building set back from the old façade. The 5 Martin Place project last week won the Urban Taskforce Urban Renewal Development Award at the Development Excellence Awards 2016,” Mr Johnson continued.

“While The Rocks is a very special precinct it is important that new architecture and structures represent the aspirations of today while respecting the sensitive context. The site of the Sirius Building is adjacent to the Sydney Harbour Bridge approach and this heritage structure must also be respected," he said.

Shaun Carter, president of the Institute of Architects and chairman of the Save Our Sirius Foundation, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the government's decision was disappointing.

"Sirius is fundamentally bound in that aspect of Sydney, and with the greens ban movement," Mr Carter said to SMH.

"It's embedded in the whole society, culture and understanding of the Rocks.

"This government is showing it can't understand what society values. It's just about a zero-sum game. [The decision] confirms that they understand value, but not much about the society it is in, he told The SMH.

Artist and former Archibald winner Del Kathryn Barton told 702 ABC Sydney radio station that the demolition of the building would represent a "tragedy.""The demolition of the Sirius building would be a cultural tragedy," the artist and former Archibald winner said.

"Around the world people are celebrating brutalist architecture ... I'd like to think that Australia culture can have that cultural sophistication."

Image: By Eastberliner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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