Sirius remains at the heart of a plan to save the social housing community of Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks. Sirius is also high on the list of international campaigns to save endangered Brutalist buildings. The following introduction to Sirius and its use for social housing has been sent to SOSBrutalism and Brutalism:Online…
In the early 1970s, the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority planned to demolish the historic buildings of The Rocks and build high-rise office towers. The local community opposed these plans and fought to retain the working class community in the area, and with the support of the union movement which imposed Green Bans, this historic area was saved and the NSW Government agreed to build Sirius for the community it displaced from The Rocks and for the people of Millers Point.
Sirius now stands as a monument to the Green Bans and for the right of people to have a say in how their cities are planned, no longer only for the benefit of those with money and power, but also with input from the people who live in those cities.
Sirius is a fine and rare example of the Brutalist style of architecture in Australia. It demonstrates Brutalism’s objective of ethical design based on social concerns as well as its focus on the truthful expression of materials, function and structure.
Sirius consists of 79 residential apartments ranging from one to four bedrooms, and was designed as public housing, with accommodation for the aged and for familes large and small. In addition to the units themselves, there are extensive communal areas, including a large common room on the ground floor of the tower, a library, an 8th-floor heritage room for older residents, and a series of courtyards and rooftop gardens. It was unusual for the Housing Commission to combine family and aged accommodation in a single development, but combining a range of ages and providing communal and private spaces has helped the residents of Sirius to be part of a successful public housing community.
The SOS – Save Our Sirius Foundation has been formed by people and organisations campaigning to save Sirius and its residents and is supported by the National Trust, the Australian Institute of Architects, the Millers Point Residents Action Group, Friends of Millers Point, Millers Point Public Housing Tenants Group, Unions NSW, CFMEU, and Jack Mundey, legendary Green Ban campaigner who helped save The Rocks from redevelopment in the 1970s and was instrumental in the building of Sirius.
Here are links to other stories about Sirius on this site and elsewhere:
- The People of Sirius
- SOS – Save Our Sirius campaign
- A 2016 photo essay on Sirius
- The heritage importance of a community
- Details of the proposed heritage listing of Sirius. Submissions have now closed. They have led to a successful outcome of sorts. The Heritage Council voted for Sirius to be listed on the State Heritage Register, but at the same time, Brad Hazzard, Minister for Social Housing, has indicated he wants residents out and the building replaced by 250 luxury units. The Minister for the Environment could reject the recommendation of the Heritage Council. His decision was expected in early 2016.