Sirius update

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.

Sirius was designed in 1975 by Theo (Tao) Gofers and constructed in off-form and prefabricated concrete elements that appear stacked upon one another and in a series of steps around a central tower.  Currently the Sirius apartments and their residents are under severe threat.  The Heritage Council has nominated Sirius to be listed on the State Heritage Register, but the owner of Sirius, the NSW Government  has announced the building is to be sold and replaced by 250 luxury apartments.

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:


, , , , , ,

5 Responses to Sirius update

  1. Fiona Ross 28 April 2016 at 8:17 am #

    Full support for the community in Millers Point in their continued fight to stay in their homes and neighbourhoods. As part of our campaign to ‘Save Public Housing’ in Vic we aim to keep the language clear by avoiding ambiguous terms. So we avoid the term ‘social housing’ when we are referring to public tenants/public housing. There are important reasons for this, as the change in terminology facilitates the privatisation agenda… For more info please see our blog, where we have put up a post on Millers Point. Also check out Friends of Public Housing on Facebook. Type in FOPHV and FOPHNSW. Blog address is

  2. JohnD 28 April 2016 at 10:51 am #

    Fiona, thanks for your comment. We understand your concerns, but we are using the term “social housing” because of the variety of conditions under which residents in this area are tenants of Housing NSW. Recently, several of our good neighbours who have long been residents have been forced out of Housing NSW properties, and others are under pressure to leave. Many of these people are not public housing tenants. Some have been in co-op housing arrangements, others in specially allocated housing for low-income residents or for people with particular needs, and still others in homes that they and their families occupied long before the properties were taken over by Housing NSW. What these and the public housing tenants of Millers Point have in common is that they are part of a community that is being forced out by Housing NSW and the state government, and our campaign is to save the Millers Point community, and especially those with long connections to the area, regardless of their type of lease from Housing or its agents.

  3. Fiona Ross 3 May 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your reply. In Melbourne we work in solidarity on some direct political actions with Community Housing tenants, so I understand why this umbrella term makes sense here. A mix of Community Housing tenants, Public Tenants and people from the Homeless Persons’ Union, as well as the general public, have allied in support of homeless people occupying empty houses in Collingwood. You may have read about this. It’s a very interesting development.

    At other times,we have found the term ‘social housing’ makes the debate regarding the merits of public housing vis-a-vis community housing very confusing.

    Friends of Public Housing Vic is active in opposing further stock transfers of Public Housing to Community ( Social) Housing in Vic.

    Our post on the blog regarding Millers Point drew a lot of interest..

    I think it is shocking what is happening to the Millers Point community – and all the other public housing evictions and selloffs that have gone on under the radar across Australia…

    All the best in this ongoing struggle!! Cheers, Fiona


  1. S.O.S. Save Our Sirius - MILLERS POINT - 10 May 2016

    […] its residents and those campaigning to save it. Click on each photo to see it enlarged. Click here for a recent update on Sirius with links to other stories about […]

  2. FACS Housing NSW report on Millers Point - MILLERS POINT - 16 May 2016

    […] Sirius to accommodate a mixed community in which the more valuable units are sold and others are used for […]

Leave a Reply