Wednesday, August 10, 2022
HomeNewsUrban DesignMarchers protest against Sirius Building demolition 

Marchers protest against Sirius Building demolition 


Protesters began outside Customs House in Circular Quay and formed a 200-metre column on their way to The Rocks. The march was a group effort between the Save Our Sirius Foundation and the CFMEU (who have announced an interim “Green Ban” on the site).

Designed in the late 1970s, the Sirius Building was intended to accommodate residents displaced by renovation of local public housing. It is acknowledged by the Heritage Council to have significant value both as an icon of brutalism and a symbol of Sydney’s social history. However, the Baird Government has refused to give the site heritage listing and intends to replace it with an apartment block, displacing several long-term residents.

Present were representatives from Labor, the Greens, several unions, student bodies and a few harbour-side strollers who got carried along by the chanting crowd. Police estimate that about 1,500 people took part.

The building provided a striking backdrop as a number of speakers, among them Lord Mayor Clover Moore and prominent unionist Jack Mundey, pledged to support the cause. “We will fight to the end,” said Ms Moore. “(The demolition) would destroy the social mix that makes up the essence of Sydney.”

While protesters enjoyed a post-march “democracy sausage sizzle”, event coordinator Shaun Carter declared the march a success. Mr Carter is head of the Australian Institute of Architects and attributes his career in architecture to childhood memories of the Sirius Building. He’s worried that the removal of affordable housing in the inner city will have a ripple effect; “Key workers (teachers, nurses, baristas) need to be located within our communities rather than spending two or three hours coming into work. They may well just stop coming.” Theo Gofers, Sirius’s original architect, agrees. “If this continues,” warned Mr Gofers, “in 20 to 25 years this city will be dead.”

Save Our Sirius has already raised more than $35,000 and intends to take the government to court over the decision. The CFMEU’s green ban will prevent unionised builders from working on the site until the issue is resolved.

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