The Phillip Room has been covered in black plastic to stop people seeing it and to stop residents using it.
The common areas of Sirius that have been progressively taken away from the residents and their visitors. These spaces and how they were used are crucial to understanding how Sirius became a successful high-rise public housing estate. The common areas were where residents interacted and formed a close-knit community. The interiors of Sirius are now mostly concealed from view. Here is what the NSW Government does not want you to see…
The Phillip Room is the major common room in Sirius. It is accessed through glass doors from the entry foyer, and it opens out to a courtyard on the eastern side. It includes a kitchenette behind wooden paneling, and above it is the library.
The library was designed as a quiet space for residents and their guests.
The Heritage Room on the eighth floor was set aside for older residents and their guests. Entirely covering two walls of the Heritage Room is a fabulous panorama of Sydney. The photo dates from 1976 and is now an important heritage item in its own right. Centrepoint had just been completed at the time it was taken, and in the bottom right-hand corner are some of the terraces of The Rocks that have since disappeared.
Turning to the east, there is a wonderful view over the harbour from the Heritage Room, and glass doors on its northern side open to a rooftop garden.
There are rooftop gardens on almost every level of Sirius. The rooftop garden below is on the eighth floor and is accessed from the Heritage Room.
Many of the higher units have balconies, and most of those on the ground floor have private courtyards that flow into the larger public courtyards on both sides of the building.
The interiors of Sirius included great attention to detail. The shapes of the external window surrounds, the concrete modules that were craned into place, are echoed in details throughout the building, from the typeface used for signage throughout the building, including the street numbers, to the original Hycraft carpet which survives throughout the building, and to the shape of the timbered ceiling inside the Phillip Room.
Below are two display units from 1980 – a two-bedroom unit…
and a studio apartment…
Before Sirius was shrouded in plastic, these photos of residents inside their apartments were taken.
Elizabeth Farrelley was one of the last people to see inside Sirius. In her column the same week she wrote:
“The Sirius building itself you may or may not like. I do, although as much for its crazy-sweet purpose as its architecture. Sydney is such a glass-hearted, venal kinda town. For it to snuggle the poor so close seems a move of such perverse kindness it’s hard not to love. And hard not to despise any government that single out those sweet spots for traduction.” (See the full article here.)
Tim Ross (Rosso) is inviting you to join him at Sirius on Friday 31 March:
“I’ve always believed that the best way to save it is to get people close to it and over the last month the architect Tao Gofers has led over 1000 people on his walking tours around the building. The Department has responded by blacking out the windows so people can’t see in (yes petty I know). We would like to continue to celebrate the building and get people up in its grill so to speak. I invite you to join us for drinks at Sirius this Friday night from 5pm. No placards or chants, this is just people being social in a place that is owned by the people. If you are in Sydney I hope you can make it. Yes, it’s Australia, we will have snags in bread.”
The last time Tim Ross was at Sirius it was for the sell-out performance of Man About the Sirius Apartments.
Throughout March the Sirius Foundation has been running tours of Sirius by its architect Tao Gofers. More than 1000 people have signed up to see one of Sydney’s most loved buildings, or to draw Myra in one of the studio sessions. FACS and the government have been obstructive. The studio sessions were scheduled for the Phillip Room, the common room in Sirius that is part of Myra’s home, but at the last minute her access to the Phillip Room was revoked. We transferred the studio sessions to the front courtyard of Sirius, which FACS and the government cannot lock off, and took people inside Sirius to visit Myra in her apartment. By the end of the sessions Myra was worn out, but she loves meeting people so her spirits remain high.
The NSW Government has responded to the success of the tours by covering the interiors in black plastic and locking residents out of all common rooms and rooftop gardens. Now the only way to see the interiors is in photos like the ones above.
Tao’s tours were restricted to the exterior of the building except for a brief visit to the foyer from where small groups were invited to visit Myra in her unit. Myra and Cherie, the only remaining residents of Sirius, supported and welcomed the tour groups who enjoyed a glimpse inside Sirius.
When visitors are confronted by ten uniformed security officers inside the main building of Sirius, they know they should feel intimidated. When services to Sirius and areas within it are being closed off, residents feel they are being bullied by the government and its agents. The Save Millers Point Facebook page reported:
‘Peter Anderson is the senior bureaucrat responsible for the welfare of Myra and the other vulnerable residents. He is making it impossible for Myra to live in her home. The hot water in Sirius has been turned off for a week and she is being denied access to the common areas of Sirius that are part of her home. She is being evicted an inch at a time.
‘Today a group of people visited Myra to draw her in her common room. The common room used to be freely available, but now Housing requires residents to submit an application before using it. Peter Anderson takes up the story:
‘“Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) as owners of the Sirius building were approached by Mr Dunn, on behalf of Myra to hold sketching sessions of Myra for 2 days being 11 and 25 March 2017. LAHC agreed to this request on 15 February 2017.”
‘Just before the first studio session, Peter Anderson wrote “postpone access to the Philip Room for the purpose of the sketching sessions” but advised, “LAHC will now work with Mr Dunn and Myra to arrange a suitable future time for the sketching sessions.”
‘A few days ago the Philip Room was shrouded in black plastic. It now looks unlikely that Peter Anderson will propose new dates for Myra’s studio sessions inside the Phillip Room.’