Placed between the Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Sirius building is a unique example of brutalist architecture in the city, with the heavy regular concrete block work creating a sound presence against the Sydney skyline. It was built in 1978 by Theo Gofers to re-house public housing tenants from other areas or re-development in the Rocks, and to ensure the diversity of residents in the city centre was retained. It was an unusual social housing complex for Sydney that worked successfully to integrate the lives of pensioners, families and single people, with communal indoor and roof top areas.
It will be sadly missed by those who have had a connection to the building and Sydney siders if developers are given free reign over the site. Demolitions seems the likely fate for Sirius after the NSW Government rejected the NSW Heritage Council's recommendation to list it on the State Register, even though it is currently listed on both the National Trust of Australia and the Australian Institute of Architects heritage registers due to its architectural and social significance. The NSW Government argues that the site will be more attractive to developers and will raise more funds for future public housing if the site is unencumbered by a heritage listing.
Hearing that the Sirius building was being threatened by imminent demolition a friend and I headed into the the Rocks to see what the fuss was all about. We got chatting to one of the local residents in the building and were invited in for a cuppa, and over home made cake and a cuppa Myra told us of the plight to 'Save Our Sirius'.
Myra is one of the last residents left in the building, and has been leading the battle against the NSW Government, engaging with the media and using all her energy to mobilse public support. At 88 Myra is has lost her sight, but is able to find her way around her familiar surroundings and the near by city. She has been given options for re-locating to alternative public housing, but is reluctant to leave the building, fearing that once all the residence have left the fight to save the building will come to an end. She talked of the community that once thrived, and the joy of hosting New Years Eve parties with her friends celebrating with the best views in the city.
It feels like Sydney is in the hands of the developer; public support is needed to hold on to the city's architectural and cultural diversity. There are multiple ways to join the SOS campaign. All the details can be found at saveoursirius.org and keep an eye on the website for details of a rally scheduled for the 17th September. Join the fight for heritage listing by donating some funds, or spread the word through your fav social media using #saveoursirius. You can also contact the Save Our Sirius Foundation through firstname.lastname@example.org