The Sydney Open is an event which takes place once a year on the first weekend of November which invites the curious and the lovers of history, architecture and design to see inside the heritage assets which map this city from its architectural wonders to the innovations which are shaping the city today and future. This event is open to a broad audience which creates a great sense of engagement and connection, whether one is a newly settled resident of Sydney, a long-time resident of Sydney or even a tourist.Sydney Open’14’15’16
The Sydney Open includes an open-access program of over 40 buildings, the 2017 event extended from the CBD, across to Central, Redfern to Eveleigh. There are on average a dozen new buildings added to the program each year, which gives the audience the opportunity to view the buildings they were not able to see it the year before. The event kicks off with ‘focus tours’ on a Saturday and is then followed by the viewing of selected buildings on the Sunday. Brief talks are provided at certain locations.
The Sydney Open is also an incredible opportunity to obtain first hand inside knowledge about all sorts of places which you may have always wondered about. It only happens once a year, so we always make every effort to see much as we can, trying each time to see a variety of places – in era, typology, scale and location – from private homes to major public buildings and industrial to infrastructural spaces and interior spaces.
Learning about Heritage is all about uncovering the stories of a place – digging through the layers of history of each site. Heritage after all, is what gives each site its significance, value and meaning.
It’s a privilege to walk down the passages of time and to trace the history of Sydney through the design of its streets looking for the earlier architecture of sandstone, the defining period between the two world wars including US influences, then the ’50s and 60s’ and finally the post 1980’s boom periods.
It is without exception, a feast for the mind and the eyes. If only the viewing could start on the Saturday afternoon, then one could see more of the 40 buildings. There is just so much to see, to hear and simply not enough time. Between 10:00-16:00, one can generally view no more than 8 buildings and attend no more than 3 talks, including a Long Black, Anzac biscuit and sparkling water in between.
Having attended the past four Sydney Open events, I can quite honestly say that there hasn’t been a single building which I didn’t connect with in some way or another, in general these are my 3 favourites:
50 Martin Place
Opened in 1928 as head office for the Government Savings Bank of NSW. At the time it was the tallest and most expensive building housing the largest banking chamber worldwide which is beautifully detailed in neoclassical style. It is the largest heritage building to have received a Six Green Star and is currently the headquarters of the Macquarie Group.
One of Harry Seidler’s most complex and celebrated works which perfectly capture views of the Sydney Opera House on one side and Darling Harbour on the other.
Acclaimed for its column-free and uniquely curved floor slabs as well as environmental design. Modern reliefs painted by Frank Stella, a well-known artist from New York, adorn the lobby.
Grosvenor Place is the workplace for more than 5000, with newcomer Unispace studio on Level 43, bringing their philosophy of ‘Think Create Make’ to it.
Completed in the sixties it was Sydney’s tallest building until 1976 and the tallest reinforced concrete structure in the world.
Harry Seidler obtained instant recognition by winning the Sulman Medal for Public Architecture.
The lobby displayed artworks by Le Corbusier and Victor Vasarely, later replaced with a mural by Sol LeWitt, a well-known New York artist. For the plaza a sculpture by Alexander Calder.Sydney Open 2017
Source of information – https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/sydneyopen/buildings