Sunday, 30 November 2008

Forgotten Sydney

Not part of Sydney Open as such, just a couple of things that caught my eye while I was wandering from site to site.

An old building still survives amongst the new in Kent Street.

A sandstone laneway in Sussex Street.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Old Kent House

Old Kent House is one of the few remaining "cart and courtyard" warehouses, common in the city's western precinct during the late 19th century.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Sky Watch

I have no idea what this building is. Its next to Wynyard Park and the photo above is taken from the base of the tower on the AWA building.
For more Sky Watch from around the world drop in to the home of Sky Watch Friday.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Sydney Hospital

Sydney Hospital is a complex of buildings on the site of the central wing of Governor Macquarie's Rum Hospital. three sandstone buildings and two gatehouses along Macquarie Street emerged from an architectural competition held in 1880 and won by Thomas Tower.
The Chapel of St Luke, part of the main building, was designed in an Arts and Crafts style and contains many of its original fittings such as stained glass windows and a tiled mural of the Goof Shepherd (F Tarrant, 1913) behind the altar.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Westpac Bank

During the first half of the 20th century banks became increasingly competitive, particularly in their claims about which had the most impressive and up to the minute banking chambers. For banks in particular, the building itself had become a sign of prestige and monumentalism, thinking which was only rejected in the 1960s as being stolid and inflexible.
The former Bank of New South Wales headquarters is an important landmark in defining Martin Place. with obvious well-mannered Beaux-Arts stylism, it reflects the wave of commercial confidence during the 1920s following World War I. Recently re-opened following an extensive refurbishment, the ground floor banking chambers retain their magnificent history, while now offering large customer waiting areas, private meeting spaces and up to date technology. The interior is notable for the range of marbles and use of scagliola (marble effect) and has been enhanced with the incorporation of Westpac's new brand elements. the building is steel framed, exhibiting the usual rusticated base, decorative balconies and cornices, and is clad with grey granite and sandstone. It complements the General Post Office, although the conception of design is different.
The stunning Westpac Bank also opened its security vault to the public, an absolutely fascinating area complete with massive security door. Naturally no photos were allowed of this area and with security guards everywhere I couldn't sneak any.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Grace Hotel

Built in the style of the Chicago Tribune building and opened in 1930, the Grace Building was originally the headquarters of the department store Grace Brothers. An ambitious but successful design resulted in the combined Gothic and Art Deco style building with a central tower. The 213 foot (70 metre) tower was designed to attract the eye along the city's streets.

Under national security regulations during world War II, the building was requisitioned for use as headquarters for General Macarthur's pacific operations. Following the war, the building was compulsorily acquistioned by the Commonwealth of Australia. It housed several government departments including the Postmaster General's Department and the War Services Homes Commission. Grace Bros eventually received a financial settlement in 1953 after issuing a writ in the High Court declaring the acquisition invalid.
The Low Yat Group bought the building in 1995 and restored its Art Deco features - the grand corner tower, fan-vaulted ceilings, decorative ironwork balustratdes and stonework, polished veined marble and majestically lit atrium - and other original features such as the mosaic tiling and the six brass and wood panelled lifts.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Masonic Club/Castlereagh Boutique Hotel

At the time it was built, the new South Wales Masonic Club was the tallest building in the city and was also believed to have been the first reinforced concrete construction seen in Sydney, becoming the yardstick for all other buildings built in the 1920s. The club is one of the few remaining Art Deco style office and club buildings in Sydney with many examples of original furniture. The upper floors consist of four star hotel accommodation with 83 rooms available to members and the public.

Dining Room


Features include a distinguished sandstone frontage and the original chequered marble floor, part of which are still visible in the Reagh Bar. In the 1990s the club's dining room, Cello's, was restored to its original 1920s splendour. The restoration uncovered steel plates that had been welded over the windows, presumably during World War II as a blast precaution. The boardroom, first floor lobby and second floor areas have also been restored.
Reception area

Winston watches over all.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Genesian Theatre

The Genesian Theatre is another building I've walked past hundreds of time and never had any idea what was inside. I always imaged it was a very basic theatre, single level with floorboards and a raised stage at the far end. How wrong I was. Its a lovely, intimate theatre with stalls and a dress circle and a proper stage and small dressing room area.
The Church of St John the Evangelist was conceived by Archdeacon McEnroe who purchased the site in 1856 and build a small church and school. In 1868 it was blessed and opened by Archbishop Polding. A gradual fall in parishioners due to the expansion of residential areas out of the city resulted in its closure as a church and school in 1927.

Since then it has been used as a warehouse and a soup kitchen, and has housed the Kursaal Theatre and Matthew Talbot Hostel, before it was ten up by the Genesian Theatre Company in 1953. The Genesian Players, a dramatic department of the Catholic Youth Organisation, arranged the conversion of the site to a theatre and performed their opening play there in April 1954.

The small church is designed in a simplified Victorian Free Gothic style and features brick buttresses, sandstone detailing, three large windows and a small rose window.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Sydney Water

With Sydney Open you always get to see one or two things you really didn't expect. Like the unrestored men's toilet in the old Sydney Water Head Office. I used to work in a building designed in the same style and built during the same period. We always referred to the half tiled corridors as "public toilet architecture". However, I never thought that art deco urinals would form part of a tour of Sydney's architectural heritage.

The Sydney Water head Office building is probably the most significant architectural work by the architects H E Budden and N G Mackey and is listed on the State Heritage Register for its architectural and social values. Elaborate use of granite and marble finished combined with terracotta tiles, bands of bronze and copper, also makes this building an exquisite example of the Art Deco style and detail in Sydney.

Bronze bas relief panels are located above the entrance in Pitt Street which depict the water industry and its progression of technology. The building has an interior light well where the external walls are finished with white glazed ceramic tiles to maximise light reflection. Many of the internal terrazzo and travertine floor and wall surfaces survive, as does a considerable amount of original timber joinery.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Sky Watch/AWA Building

Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA) was a household name from the 1930s to the 1950s as a broadcaster and manufacturer of radio receivers, record players and other electronic equipment. The head office building, completed just before world War II, has impressive face brick with projecting vertical ribs. Built to the height limit of the day (150 feet or 46 metres) it became the outstanding Sydney landmark when the lattice steel communications tower was added to the top. It was the tallest structure in Sydney for some decades. Parapet decorations featuring a Pegasus were chosen by sir Ernest Risk to reflect the work of Australia's great wireless enterprise. For more Sky Watch from around the world drop in to the home of Sky Watch Friday.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

City Fire Station

From the street the old fire station building looks quite small, I had no idea what was behind the facade. The old engines are part of the historical exhibits from the Museum of Fire and were relocated to the Station for Sydney Open.
A rare example of Victorian free classical architecture, the design of the fire station was considered innovative for its time and included features drawn from the experience of the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade. An adjacent brick warehouse (know as the Boot Factory) was purchased in 1923, and the interior converted for a gymnasium, carpentry shop, workshops and dormitory. In 1907 the original building was extended along Castlereagh Street to the north and in 1928 an enlarged fleet of motorised appliances necessitated the ground floor's conversion into two engine bays.

The need for a new and enlarged fire station was identified as early as 1934 yet, despite numerous proposals, the project was not progressed. In July 1999 an application was lodged with City of Sydney Council for works comprising refurbishment, adaptive reuse and new accommodation. Construction of the new station was completed in February 2003 and restoration of the 1887 building and stonework commenced the following month.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Judge's House

A true gem, tucked away between city office blocks, this one is my favourite.

Built in 1827, this Georgian cottage is the only surviving colonial house in the heart of the city and is Sydney's second oldest building. The house was built as a single storey, stone walled rectangle containing six rooms and a hall. Of typical symmetrical Georgian design, the verandah is supported on Doric columns on the eastern, northern and southern sides, an adaptation of this style to the Australian conditions. The exterior walls are of sandstone, bonded with shell-lime mortar.

The cottage bas built for William Harper, a Scottish migrant who worked as an assistant surveyor. Ill health caused Harper to retire young and his home was rented to the second Chief Justice of New South Wales, Sir James Dowling, in 1828, from where it gets its name. The house has had various tenants including a vinegar maker, a master mariner, a surgeon and a butcher. In 1997 the Capital Investment Group purchased the Judge's House for its corporate headquarters. It remains in their ownership and they continue the policy of preservation of this unique property.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Trades Hall

Trades Hall type buildings derive from English Guild Halls where individual trades established guilds to protect their profession. Sydney Trades Hall was opened in 1895. I remember taking tai chi classes in the building back in the 1980s. It was an old, run down building with creaky wooden floors and not much else. I had no idea it had been fully restored and redeveloped to provide modern office and retail space, including light wells and an atrium. However, it still very much keeps the flavour of the old building and celebrates the history of the trade union movement. I'm afraid I forgot to take a photo of the exterior.
The original building on the left, the new on the right, connected by a modern light well.
Display of union banners.
Old and new. The sign above the old ALP office in Trades Hall and the current office around the corner.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Masonic Centre

As promised, I'll now take you on a tour of the interiors of some of the 70 buildings which were open to the public as part of Sydney Open. Sydney Open began in 1997 in response to a desire to celebrate the architecture of Sydney - old and new - and to encourage a dialogue between all those interested in the quality of our architecture and urban environment. The even opens the doors to many of the best buildings in our rapidly changing city. Sydney Open is held for one day only every two years (far too short in my opinion, it should be over two days).

Last week I showed you the exterior of, and view from, Sydney Masonic Centre and Civic Tower. Here is the interior of the Masonic Centre.
Ceiling lights in the lodge and banqueting rooms.
Main foyer. Its easy to see why they call this the "brutalist" style of architecture.
Main lodge room.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Looking Down (7)

The last in the looking down on Sydney series. Looking up Martin Place from George Street towards Sydney Hospital (at the top of the photo). The building on the right with the clock tower is the old GPO (General Post Office) now a hotel/retail complex.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Looking Down (6)

Looking north towards the Rocks (can you see the old terrace houses) and over the harbour from Westpac Place (see yesterday's post).

I couldn't decide which of these two to use so you've got both. This one shows the expressway and approach to the Harbour Bridge. Apologies for the reflection on the glass.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Sky Watch Friday/Looking Down (5)

Looking over the Domain (front right), Botanic Gardens (front left), Garden Island (centre, see the naval ships) and up the harbour to the heads, from level 28, Deutsche Bank Place.

For more Sky Watch from around the world drop in to the home of Sky Watch Friday.