Friday, July 2, 2010

brutal architectural obsession

ever since i arrived in sydney i've been madly in love with this brutalist architecture, reminiscent of an austere cold war stacked pile of child's blocks. it sits adjacent to the southern approach of the harbour bridge. this is my secret palace. the stuff of dreams and giant wonderland alician doll houses.

the "one way jesus" window banner has imprinted its monotone message to the masses for nigh on a decade at least. possible even three. divine intervention sees that it does not fade.

this is the sirius block. a concrete apartment precinct developed in the 1970s to house displaced residents in the rocks. a measure instigated by the green bans [imposed by the builders labourer federation] to enforce the retention of some original aspects of both the topography & people as redevelopment bowled the area over threatening to suck out the harbour's overlooked soul. 

traditionally this had been the home to maritime workers, labourers & industrious artisans. the people who built & created the space when noone else valued the subdued shadows, domino cottages and crooked lanes.

the block was the outcome of the protest policy. the battle for the rocks in the early 1970s saw residents clashing with police over relocation "initiatives".

ultimately in response to public debate what we see today is a tangible endeavor of the department of housing to retain some original character & existing communities [the population base at one point fell to 240] as gentrification & high rise swept in and made low rents bureaucratically unjustifiable for the required historic restoration. updated environmental policy now takes into account the importance of cultural, social and historic values.

ironically today this development is once more under the interrogative eye as many bemoan the million dollar views enjoyed by the poor & cite the building as an aesthetic intrusion. i ask you, what would you rather have them see?


  1. i don't think it's an eyesore at all. i love that building.

  2. love love love this building. it's a 70's future building. my favourite future era!

  3. A year 12 Society and Culture class had me watch a north shore hummer enthusiast in pristine white tennis garb inform us all, "Did you know those apartments on the waterfront by the bridge are public housing? That's totally crazy, don't the government know how much money they could make selling it? There are people who can and will pay good money for that location. What are they thinking?"Another woman informed me that the "housos" near her place in Newtown are all mentally ill, and she's very uncomfortable that they know where she lives because now she's in danger of burglary and sexual assault. She then went on to say that it was her own fault for being nicer to them, and with that sort, you have to be rude right from the start or face the consequences.I am of course, a "houso" and it's all true. Having bargain tradesmen arrive at your house and inform you neither they or you have a choice in the matter when they come to paint your personally painted bedroom a slightly different shade of white would make you want to rape common, decent people. Or when you and your girlfriend wake up, naked, to three men on your balcony, tearing down the honeysuckle plant you spent years cultivating across the railing so they can scrape off the paint and do an identical job, you feel the calling of vandalism. When the carpenters tell you they are there to fix the doors that are unbroken, but they are not there to fix the rotting skirting, that the plumbers are there to check the fittings, not to fix the toilet that runs noisily and wastes water, the voices do tell you to burn things. The phone line with the two dial tones, the one you can hear your neighbour's voice on, when your internet only works when your neighbour doesn't use it - well, you just have to keep buggering on and accept that it's not telstra's problem, not your service provider's responsibility, and like everything you call your friendly government landlord for that actually requires attention, it is certainly not the department of housing's department.I have to say, I lived in a block of four modern terraced townhouses, rather than the broken window theory model ghetto blocks, that are a venom that quickly paralyzes and atrophies socioeconomic status. Despite my kitchen not being large enough to construct that meth lab that will be my only contribution to society, I am one of the very, very lucky ones.