#SOSBrutalism

SOS

In December 2015 the Sirius apartments and their residents are under severe threat.  The Heritage Council has nominated Sirius to be listed on the State Heritage Register. Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment is expected to announce his decision about the listing within weeks, but residents have been told the building is to be sold and replaced by luxury apartments, and they must leave in the next few months.

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. The Foundation has middle-ground solutions for saving Sirius while achieving the government’s aims. Read about these solutions.

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.

#SOSBrutalism

Brutalism is not well known in Australia, but internationally it is highly regarded. The Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) in Frankfurt has launched #SOSBrutalism, a growing database that currently contains over 700 Brutalist buildings. But, more importantly, #SOSBrutalism is a platform for a large campaign ‘to save our beloved concrete monsters’. The buildings in the database marked red are in particular jeopardy. There are few Australian entries in the project, but amongst the fifty buildings on the endangered list is Sirius. This is an unprecedented initiative: #SOSBrutalism is open to everyone who wants to join the campaign to save Brutalist buildings! It is a powerful tool that allows fans of Brutalism to communicate with one another across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and so on.

“…what characterises the New Brutalism… is precisely its brutality, its je-m’en-foutisme, its bloody-mindedness.” —Reyner Banham, 1955

#SOSBrutalism will also lead into an exhibition which will be jointly organized by the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and the Wüstenrot Stiftung. It will be on display at the DAM, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, starting in April 2017.

SOS – Save our Sirius

The SOS lights are switched on and every night sending out the message SOS – Save our Sirius. On New Year’s Eve, between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House visitors will read the message: SOS – Save our Sirius.

Here are links to other stories about Sirius on this site and elsewhere:

  • The People of Sirius
  • The Place: Sirius
  • The heritage importance of a community
  • Details of the proposed listing. 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 is expected in early 2016.

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20 Responses to #SOSBrutalism

  1. JohnD 23 December 2015 at 11:16 am #

    The Save Our Sirius campaign is being promoted internationally by Frankfurt’s Deutsches Architekturmuseum. Great to know Sirius is valued by this important and influential museum. We hope Mark Speakman hears their message along with those of the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter and the National Trust Australia (NSW) https://www.facebook.com/SOSBrutalism #SOSSirius #SOSBrutalism #Save Millers Point

  2. BARNEY GARDNER 23 December 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    This historic building was born out of the struggle by the union movement and the residents of Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks during the “Green Ban” movement in the 1970s that saw the birthplace of our European settlement Sydney Cove & The Rocks saved from the developers wrecking ball.

    It is an iconic building both loved and revered by its community and the tenants past and present that have resided there, tenants, who were forced from the homes (evicted) in and around The Rocks who, now face eviction once again!

    The Brutalist style of the “Sirius” building may not appeal to everyone but, if its architect Tao Gofers was allowed to white cement the outside of the building (Gov. cost cutting prevented this) to compliment the Sydney Opera House then I dare say there would be a public outcry!

    This purpose built complex for Public Housing was the result of “The People’s Plan”, the vision of architect Tao Gofers and the determination of then NSW Housing Commission Chairman, Jack Burke to combine apartments of one, two, three and four bedrooms so as to attain a unique community mix for the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable, so it must be preserved.

    It is an “Iconic” building standing as a monument to social struggle and public voice; it is of vital importance architecturally, historically, socially and politically!!!

  3. peter muller 23 January 2016 at 10:33 pm #

    What about applying to Run Darling House again on 2 of the floors of the Sirius Building? It only had to close because the Lib government raised the rent by 1000% in one year that forced them to close. Or Running some thing like Ronald Macdonald house for the country people of Nsw ? It just seems such an incredible waste of a valuable social public asset to tear it down for the benefit of property speculators Save Sirius for future generations
    of Nsw public

    • JohnD 22 March 2016 at 12:28 pm #

      Great idea Peter

  4. Kathy Kang 22 March 2016 at 10:22 am #

    Thanks for keeping people informed via this page. Regarding the sosbrutalism online gallery, there is currently a glitch in their database ‘browse’ facility, and Sirius does not come up when you search under ‘most endangered’ or under ‘Sydney’ or any other search term. The sosbrutalism crew is working to fix this glitch (which affects database access for some other entries on sosbrutalism’s list, notably Bidura Children’s Court in Glebe).
    There is also a website launched in March 2016, called brutalism:online, which is well worth a visit. I hope that someone in the Sirius campaign group will submit details of Sirius to the brutalism:online web site.

    • JohnD 22 March 2016 at 11:15 am #

      Thanks for letting us know about this site. We sent this to brutalism:online…
      ‘The Sirius Foundation has been established to save Sirius from being sold and demolished. I have written about it and photographed it, adding images from the architect Theo (Tao) Gofers’ own archive. This building stands in the most significant historical neighbourhood in Australia, between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The Sirius Foundation chairman is Shaun Carter, President of the Australian Institute of Architects (NSW). We would be very happy for information about Sirius and our campaign to save it to be listed on your website.’

  5. Maureen Sharpe 3 August 2016 at 9:46 am #

    I am devastated that the Sirius Building is likely to be demolished. This government is in danger of being the most destructive of Sydney heritage since the 1960s as well as finally removing tenants from this area and probably allowing a glass block for wealthy investors or a hotel. Surely they have enough money to increase Department of Housing property without removing all the tenants from the Rocks and Millers Point. I have written to the Premier and the Minister but to no avail.

    • Kiwi 9 August 2016 at 10:47 am #

      I agree with you. I live in New Zealand and come to Sydney each year to visit family and always make a point to come and look at Sirius and take photographs. I love this building and the history and am sad that demolition is on the cards.

      • Julie 29 August 2016 at 12:26 pm #

        I only saw Sirius once on a visit from Auckland. I teach modernist architecture at high school level and although I didn’t know anything about Sirius I could immediately recognise its Brutalist style, influence of Le Corbusier and see the Utopian Urbanisme aims. We walked on the bridge and seriously, Sirius was the highlight. People of Sydney, get busy and save your historic buildings. They don’t have to beVictorian confections to be important or beautiful or worthy of your affections.

  6. Jane Gye 4 August 2016 at 7:11 am #

    I am so angry that the NSW Government has decided to demolish this building. Since it first appeared I have loved it – something different yet appealing with its staggered levels, purple trims, and ivy-covered walls. I pass it often and to me it is an icon at the entrance to Sydney as you cross the Harbour Bridge. Also a symbol of how important it is to have a local residential community. It is senseless to destroy it. Surely with some innovative thinking the Government can do better and protect Sydney’s heritage. Brutalist or not it’s marvellous.

  7. Robert Wood 6 August 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    I do not know the building personally but from looking at the pictures it looks to be a great place to live and second to that its style and detailing make most apartment buildings since uninteresting as human habitat.It symbolises how seriuos the housing debate is in moderne Australia and proves we are loseing touch with whats important.A former architectural draftsman in Western Australia that worked in the housing industry.

  8. Kiwi 9 August 2016 at 10:45 am #

    I am sad that this iconic building with lots of history and mystery and creeping vines and greenery is facing demolition. A very sad situation and I am due to come to Sydney this November so will hopefully get to see the building for the last time sadly.

  9. Jeremy Hession 23 September 2016 at 11:45 am #

    Someone needs to stand up to the Baird government . He is forcing the gap between rich and poor wider and wider, with only the rich benifiting. Guaranteed these poor peple will be shipped around from place to place, no doubt places they are not familiar with, in the last stages of their lives. Disgusting behaviour from this government, but unfortunately to be expected from these leeches. The only winners will be rich tourists and investors..and no doubt many an untraceable under the table handshake and pat on the back for the Baird government. Shame on you Baird.

    • John Dunn 23 September 2016 at 9:19 pm #

      People are standing up to Baird all over. Goodness he is rubbing a lot of people up the wrong way.

  10. Michaela Hamilton 19 October 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    I love this building the Sirius. I was a child in the 70’s and I always enjoyed looking at it when I would catch the train home if we visited the city. I used to have a poster of Sydney at night in my room and Sirius was in the poster. I cant believe they think its ok to demolish it . They have gone mad . I thought we lived in an age where we could protect unique buildings. Developers and government gone mad just greed not thinking anything about our city’s heritage, future generations enjoying this building or the tourist that come to the city. Whatever goes in its place will be another boring characterless high rise with none of the iconic history of this building. Not to mention how sad that they have turfed out the poor residents. and also the other housing commission community at millers Point. the area is losing at lot of character its nice to have a mix of rich and poor people now it will just be bland rich. I dont know why they cant just renovate the building and make some money from that instead of demolishing it . I am so angry

    • John Dunn 20 October 2016 at 9:39 am #

      It appears the government began with the “solution” of demolishing Sirius. Every time a Government spokesperson responds to questions about Sirius, it seems they say they don’t like the building. They seem annoyed that not everyone agrees with them. One response to a question about Sirius sounded a lot like “We will make the decisions.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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