A blog that explores Australian houses. If you love architecture, design, interiors and interesting buildings of all types, The House Hunter is for you.

Sirius Public Housing, The Rocks

 

Don’t pretend you’re not excited to explore Sydney’s most famous concrete blocks. This is a mini-post as it’s challenging to find properties in the holiday wind-down period. I traipsed around one of Sydney’s most arresting architectural sites – the Sirius public housing building at The Rocks. It would be most recognisable to people traveling along the Harbour Bridge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t gain access to the building, but a close analysis of its exteriors is justified.
 

Oddly, I can’t find a lot of information about the apartment block – I thought research would yield a plethora of information, but I’ve been disappointed. Concrete does have a neat article on the building that’s worth reading.

 

 

The block, which is a modernist concrete spectacle, is regularly described as an ugly monstrosity by passers-by, in my anecdotal experience. I once would have concurred, but after seeing it so regularly my view has changed – I tend to agree with Concrete‘s characterisation of the block as “a bold and exceptional experiment in low-income public housing” now.
 

Either way, you’ll take notice. Although my capitalist instincts kick in in opposition, it’s difficult to disregard the fact that the block was innovative in public housing design, which is generally unimpressive (Wentworth Street ‘suicide towers’, anyone?). The ground-level units have courtyards and the one, two, three and four level apartments are divided between single storey, split level and multiple levels. The walls and floors are concrete, which you’ll either hate or love, depending on your taste.

 

 

I find the communal areas at the sides of the building interesting – gardens and paved surfaces seemingly calling out for communal activity.
 

It might be an ugly anachronism wasting some of Sydney’s prime real estate, or it might be an interesting study in modernist housing commission projects wedged between Bradfield  Highway and the Rocks. What’s your point of view?

 

 

Booloominbah, Armidale

 

If you’ve been a casual reader (or, even better, an obsessive, voracious reader) of this blog, you’d know that I have a big thing for heritage architecture. So I was pretty pleased to find this house when I was at Armidale, which is one of the most substantial Victorian (well, it was built in 1888, so it’s looking quite like a Federation) manors I’ve seen.

 

 

The link above provides some all-important historical details, which I’ll share a brief run-down of here. It’s also worth noting that the mansion has its own Wikipedia page, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, few houses do. The home was commissioned for a wealthy grazier in the late nineteenth century and designed by prominent architect John Horbury Hunt. It was eventually given by the family to the University of Sydney, and now forms part of the University of New England’s campus. It’s (rightfully) heritage listed.

 

 

The property and its sprawling grounds have been immaculately cared for. It’s currently used by the university as a cafe, which inspires significant jealousy in me as I don’t recall ever being able to eat lunch in a heritage mansion overlooking a breathtaking rural view while studying in Ultimo.

 

 

The two elements that stand out most prominently are its inimitable condition and its immense size. The house shows none of the usual signs of wear and tear that accompany such a long history; its intricate brick and tilework are still show-stoppers. The size of the home belies the fact it was ever a residential structure; the sheer scale and grandness of the place is something to marvel at.