Opinion | The White Bay power station might have some merit, after all, but Sydney's beauty is marred by some horrible architecture that could only be improved by the wrecking ball, writes the NSW Treasurer
The White Bay power station might have some merit, after all, but Sydney's beauty is marred by some horrible architecture that could only be improved by the wrecking ball, writes the NSW Treasurer.
Normal text sizeLarger text sizeVery large text sizePerhaps I was too hasty when I suggested the old White Bay power station should be demolished. This week, I visited the site with Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne and my colleague Planning Minister Rob Stokes, whose transcendent wisdom and insight bestowed upon me, mere mortal, a fuller understanding of its historical significance.
It really was a great discussion, and most importantly there now appears to be a bit of momentum to give the station a more dignified existence than “derelict rave cave”. After all, everyone agrees it cannot just be left to fester.Blues Point dour ... it's a better view from inside, where you can't see it.
Credit:Louise KennerleyI like the power station. But I am incensed that it has been decaying for decades, and it would likely cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars just to make it habitable.My demolition comment was a throwaway line because I like stirring the pot when it comes to Sydney’s architecture. We don’t give it the passionate debate it deserves. headtopics.com
AdvertisementAs the Planning Minister observed at the weekend, I’m no architect. But I am an inhabitant of our stunning city, and like millions of other architecturally unenlightened residents, I care about what it looks like. The fact a building might photograph nicely at dusk – and thrill a coterie of architectural sophisticates with its bold articulation of the revolutionary maxims of Fifth-Wave-Neo-Post-Structuralist design theory – doesn't count for much if it’s an eyesore.
Once such a monstrosity is built, it never goes away, because there’s always some dedicated fan club to proclaim its heritage value and demand its eternal preservation in our nation’s ever-expanding architectural pantheon of cinder blocks.The Sirius apartments ... apparently brutalism is not the same thing as brutal.
Credit:Steve LunamSo in the interests of stirring the pot a bit more – and with tongue firmly planted in cheek – I have compiled a whole list of buildings that no one should let me near with a wrecking ball. Many are scars from the architectural establishment’s obsession with utilitarianism, wherein form follows function, and creativity is all about what shocks, jags and juxtaposes.
Well, I for one am happy to leave the juxtaposition to the juxtaposeurs. As the late philosopher Roger Scruton remarked: “If you consider only utility, the things you build will soon be useless.”LoadingIn a world wounded by ugliness and misery, beauty is what we yearn to find and, better still, create. A city as beautiful as Sydney should be filled with beautiful architecture. So, at the risk of torpedoing any hopes I had of hosting the NSW Architecture Awards next year – or ever – here’s my list of Buildings Whose Reduction to Rubble Would Make Sydney a More Beautiful City. headtopics.com
Blues Point Tower:The hint is in the name. A depressing blight on a pristine harbour. The best thing about it is, when you’re inside, you can’t see it.Anything Brutalist:I cheated, there are probably 10 buildings in this bullet point alone. But from Sirius to the UTS Tower, brutalism’s time is done. Defenders pontificate that the name is not, in fact, derived from the word
brutal, but from the French for concrete.Oh, well, incase …Annexure to Land and Property Information Building:Whatever they were smoking back in the '60s, it must have been strong. This ramshackle annex to the stunning sandstone LPI building resembles an outhouse tacked on to a federation home – and it stinks the same too.
What to do with a harbourfront gem? Build a road as ugly as the Cahill Expressway over it.Credit:James AlcockHospital Road Courthouse:The Annexure’s ugly twin. Next to the historic Mint and the Barracks stands the worst building in Sydney, and this one simply has to go. It chokes the pathway from the city to the Domain, its red vinyl panels resembling the open wounds inflicted on our city’s heritage when modernism arrived Down Under.
Cahill Expressway:Confronting in its ugliness, it adorns our city’s beautiful face like oversized 1970s-style braces on a supermodel. If my last name was Cahill, I’d sue for defamation.A good time to stop? The Greenway public housing apartments under construction in Milsons Point in 1952. The picture was taken from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. headtopics.com
Credit:Stephen DunleavyMLC Centre:Its construction meant the destruction of one of Sydney’s most stunning buildings (the Australia Hotel) – a hate crime against beauty. And the strange UFO-like structure out front lends weight to the theory it was built by authoritarian surveillance-state aliens to spy on the unsuspecting pedestrians of Martin Place.
Greenway Apartments, Milson’s Point:Official style is “functionalist”, which is like utilitarian but with extra gruel. If Dickens had written dystopian futuristic fiction, he would have imagined this.Sydney Aquarium:Looks like they sunk a barge-load of shipping containers in Darling Harbour and never bothered to fish them out. Once, walking past, I saw a bottle floating in the water with an SOS message inside. It was from the fish. True story.
RBA Building, Martin Place:In 1963, Alfred Hitchcock released his horror classicThe Birds. One year later, this equally horrifying stack of giant pigeon-holes appeared in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. Coincidence?Federation Square, Melbourne:Oops, cheated again. Showcasing the polygon contours of a 1990s 3D computer game (
Doomanyone?), it’s the building so ugly it offends from afar.So that’s a start. Did I miss any?Dominic Perrottet is the NSW Treasurer.Start your day informedOur Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up toRead more: The Sydney Morning Herald »
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One for gorakaunhai. I am starting to come around on the Dom. Not only does he want to get rid of stamp duty but also bulldoze the RBA (and all other brutalist buildings). They'll be saying the same thing in 30 years about half the buildings getting built today After Keating, we have another wanna-be architect, Dom_Perrottet
I'm not sure the faux obnoxious character translates outside the bear pit... but prove me wrong I guess Perrottet need only be concerned about prison architecture. That's where he will be after he is convicted of defrauding the workers compensation scheme so he can have extra RWNJ staff. So the Treasurer is an Architect now? Hey, mate, go study for Architecture and Urbanism for 6-8 years and then give me your opinion!
Horrible architecture? What about all the eyesores that you are building? Those being the huge pollution stacks for your never-ending obsession with tolled road tunnels. The stacks in parks & near schools - visual pollution as well as toxic pollution. More hypocrisy Mattonews Someone’s realised they needed a quick image correction (spin) so they still had a chance at the top job when Gladys goes. Nice writing by his marketing team
I'd say start with the iCare building. I wonder if he knows any property developers just waiting to put up their own monstrosity? What about the Balls point tower , Ohh that's on the Nth Shore 10/10. The UTS building. Please. The LNP aren't even hiding their intentions anymore. Being open about destroying Sydney's iconic heritage buildings is pure insanity, but also a sign of the times that they can get away with it. Protect the past. Sydney Heritage NSWpol AuspolSoCorrupt auspol2020 Auspol
He has already destroyed an historic bridge and the early colonial features of the oldest public square in Australia. Agree with all of this. Why is pencil neck giving us his opinion on architecture? I would have thought he would be spending his time working tirelessly on doing something about NSW’s horrendous debt.
Says the crook who still hasn’t been held to account for the iCare scandal. He’s right. Needs shooting for including the wonderful MLC centre. Seidlers finest where is this Twitter, can't find it. I'd probably start will vales point power plant.. oh I cheated it's not in Sydney