THERE’S no nice way to say this. These are Sydney’s ugliest buildings. Where are Miley and her wrecking ball when you need them?
SIMPLY being old should not guarantee buildings protection from the wrecking ball.
Jack Mundey and his union green bans saved Sydney’s The Rocks area from certain demolition, the result of which would have been a tremendous aesthetic and cultural loss. They saved buildings that meant something.
Now we save buildings of questionable character, and protect others that are downright ugly.
This week’s battle is over the striking Sirius apartments. Too ugly too stay? Too ugly to go?
And there are plenty of other eyesores in Sydney that really shouldn’t be allowed to stand the test of time.
One example is found in Kirribilli. Grounded in the housing shortages of the post-war era are the terrifyingly ugly Greenway Housing Commission Flats on McDougall Street. They are an eyesore for commuters who cross the bridge north to south each day, as deep red brick adds an unfortunate flash of colour to what should be one of the most beautiful commutes in the country.
The oddly shaped footprint was created by left-over public land after the completion of the Harbour Bridge. Perhaps inspired by the equally aggressive design elements in America, the building was completed in 1948 and its style nominated as “functionalist”.
A heritage listing note conveys that the building is “devoid of decorative detailing”. No kidding.
The worst part of the whole debacle, beyond the sad window coverings and slogans that appear in the windows from time to time is that the block appears to have been named after a true architectural genius — Francis Greenway, a convict turned public servant who is responsible for many of the great buildings left to us from colonial times.
There are more modern creations that many believe could be flattened without many tears shed.
Architect Vince Squillace, from the award-winning architectural firm Squillace, wouldn’t lose sleep if the Sydney Tower was dismantled.
“It looks like a plant room at the top of another building,” he said. He believes if it was a third taller, it might not be the eyesore it is today.
“Sydney has a height restriction that should be challenged,” he said.
UNIT BLOCKS: THE HORROR STORIES OF TOMORROW
More worrying for him is the standard of many of the unit blocks being built at breakneck speed today, that will surely be the architectural horror stories of tomorrow.
“Already you can see render cracking, and stains from tiles leeching,” he warned. But back to the bucket on a stick, the Sydney Tower. At 309 metres it’s very tall. You see, there is something good about it. And it does have the Skywalk attraction, and the restaurant, 360 Bar and Dining is really quite yummy. But the architecture is awful, and being capped off with a Westfiled sign makes Sydney appear to be one giant mall.
Blues Point Tower, stands like a lost kid’s building block on the carpet of North Sydney’s beautiful foreshore. It was completed in the early 60s and designed by the revered Harry Seidler. It doesn’t fit, work or enhance the harbourside landscape, and stands as a monument to what might have been.
The backstory to this edifice is that the tower is just one of many that were planned in a high density proposition for the location, but a planning backflip resulted in just one coming to fruition. Over the years there have been calls to tear it down, but in 1993 it was added to a local heritage register. Its saving grace is that the apartments themselves are good, and perhaps the building does tell part of Sydney’s architectural story.
UTS architecture has had a lot of publicity over the years. Most recently headlines were made after the Frank Gehry designed campus was opened to the public. The $180m Dr Chau Chak Wing Building demands a response — as do many of the world’s great artworks. They challenge the audience, they provoke discussion, they take the architectural landscape forward.
Does that make them successful, or even acceptable as part of our city? Here is a building that polarised opinion, from those who decried the wet paper bag aesthetic, to others who felt it was exciting.
At the very least it is a creative diversion from the other buildings in the UTS portfolio.
Who, in their right minds, could admire the brutalism (there’s that word again) of the UTS Broadway building? To say it lacks humanity is to underplay the ghastly functionality so popular in the late 60s.
It needs a makeover, as do so many of Sydney’s buildings, soon.
- Five Sydney building shockers worth a Miley Cyrus-sized wrecking ball, News.Com, 27 July 2015, by Prue Miller https://www.news.com.au/five-sydney-building-shockers-worth-a-miley-cyrussized-wrecking-ball/news-story/d001cd97b2315e4642face2d5fdb2ef3