Clover Moore has joined the latest SAVE OUR SIRIUS campaign…
“Sydney’s making international news for all the wrong reasons. This time it’s the State Government’s decision to reject the Sirius building – against all recommendations – and in a blatant cash grab, replace the iconic building with luxury apartments. In just a few days, the Sirius Foundation has already raised almost half the money they need to tackle this decision in the courts – if you agree, will you chip in and help them take it on?”
A few days ago, a dedicated Sirius website was launched – SAVE OUR SIRIUS
The site includes a link to a crowdfunding campaign, and in less than a week we have raised more than $18,000 for a legal challenge to the Minister for Heritage’s decision to deny a listing for Sirius. This is a legal challenge we expect to win, making it likely all the money invested in the challenge will be available again for the next phase of the Sirius campaign.
The SAVE OUR SIRIUS website is not only a gateway to the crowdfunding campaign. It is the place where stories of Sirius and the latest campaign news are posted, and it links to the community website, a new Instagram account (@save_our_sirius) and new Twitter account.
The website also marks the next phase of the campaign, the great rally for Sirius on 17 September. More information on this soon.
How did we get this renewed enthusiasm for the Sirius campaign? It was with the encouragement of the NSW Government. Here is how it happened…
The NSW Heritage Council voted unanimously to recommend Sirius for listing on the State Heritage Register on the grounds of
- Aesthetics (exemplar Brutalist Architecture), and
- History with the Green Bans movement within The Rocks.
Minister Mark Speakman rejected the NSW Heritage Council’s recommendation, saying he does not want the sale of Sirius to be encumbered by respect for its heritage value. He wants this rare example of brutalism, this monument to the 1970s Green Bans sold and gone, and its residents scattered, regardless of how long they have lived in the area, or how old they are.
Within 24 hours of this announcement, Mark Speakman had proposed a replacement building that exceeds the height limits on the site, but Minister Brad Hazzard went further, saying he wants the 79 apartments of Sirius replaced by 250 luxury apartments. He is proposing a building that will dominate The Rocks and this area of Sydney where no other high-rise buildings have been allowed. There are better solutions that the government will not even allow to be put in front of it.
The NSW Government’s understanding of the heritage value of Sirius has been left for Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet to discuss. Perrottet describes Sirius by saying he looks forward to “the demise of the concrete eyesore and the promise of a new, less brutal building on the site.” Has Perrottet misunderstood brutalism and “whatever skerrick of heritage significance [Sirius] might have”? He joked the heritage value of Sirius could be found “on page 379 of the Handbook of Advanced Postmodern Concretescape Theory Vol 7”. On Twitter he has said, “If you need a PhD in Architecture to ‘appreciate’ the #Sirius building, then it’s clearly not a building for the people of NSW.” He then ignored replies such as “residents appreciate and love their home. Let Myra age in place,” and “Keep Sirius to save money and a community. Don’t be blind to better solutions.”
The NSW Government says it is determined to demolish the Sirius Apartments in The Rocks. The effect has been to reignite the campaign to SAVE OUR SIRIUS. A week ago, 200 people donating $50 each squeezed into the Phillip Room to hear Tim Ross (Rosso) and Kit Warhurst perform MAN ABOUT THE SIRIUS APARTMENTS. Since then, there have been dozens of stories in newspapers and on radio and TV (see links at the bottom of this story), and a groundswell of community support.
The sad truth is that a few middle-aged men who do not understand Sirius are wanting to decide its fate. The point is that the government has a group of experts it has appointed, and that group has agreed unanimously that Sirius should be heritage listed. The government should listen to these experts, not make out they are the only people who could appreciate the Sirius Apartments.
Myra explains to Tim Ross (Rosso) how she is able to live an independent life because Sirius is well planned for her needs and she has lived in this neighbourhood for almost sixty years. In November Myra turns ninety, and everyone hopes this is a milestone she gets to celebrate in her beloved Sirius, not in a new area where she knows no one.
RECENT MEDIA SUPPORT FOR SIRIUS
A great story from The Feed by Laura Murphy-Oates can be found online at the top of the crowdfunding page. Press play on this link to see the video, then see how much of the $35,000 needed has been raised.
Tim Ross (Rosso) wrote a very personal story about Sirius in the Saturday Paper two weeks ago.
Elizabeth Fortescue and Sarah Keoghan presented a double-page spread and story on Sirius in the Telegraph.
Now the story is being presented in international magazines, including the influential Dezeen. This week Monocle also visited Sirius to prepare both a print story and a radio program that will air in Australia on ABC Radio National, as well as radio programs around the world. Sirius remains at the top of the endangered list on the SOSBrutalism site which is campaigning “to save our concrete monsters.”
Monocle recording Myra in her Sirius apartment for a radio story that will be aired on ABC Radio National and on stations around the world.
Other media running stories on Sirius range from newsletters of architectural practices to university students interested in Sirius an Myra’s story, including Sydney University’s Honi Soit and Macquarie University Urban Sociology students who visited Sirius as part of their course. They seemed to understand Sirius and also that Myra should be allowed to age in place. Why is the NSW Government the only one out of step?