Selling Sirius would be a ‘grave mistake’

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The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979.

The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979. Image: Katherine Lu

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The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979.

The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979. Image: Katherine Lu

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The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979.

The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979. Image: Katherine Lu

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The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979.

The Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979. Image: Katherine Lu

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Interior of the Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979.

Interior of the Sirius building by Tao Gofers, 1979. Image: Barton Taylor

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Ahead of the NSW government's imminent announcement of the sale of the Sirius building designed by Tao Gofers, advocates of the public housing block penned an open letter asking the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian to reconsider.

Dear Premier,

We write to ask you not to sell the Sirius building, particularly to a developer who will demolish it, and to retain this purpose-built, structurally sound, architecturally iconic building for social and affordable housing. 

We understand the sale of the Sirius building is imminent and there are rumours that the Opal Towers developer Ecove is the government’s preferred buyer. Such a sale would be a grave mistake and would provoke distrust in government processes and objectives. 

Sydney was rocked when Ecove’s Opal Towers disaster forced residents from their homes over Christmas, prompting widespread reports of defects in apartment buildings across the state. Indeed, it has been estimated that 85 per cent of apartments built since 2000 have ongoing building defects. 

Sirius is made from Beton-brut concrete that was built to last 200 years. It can be argued that Sirius was built at a time when buildings were better regulated and had government oversight so that they were built well. Sirius has withstood successive governments’ neglect to remain fit-for-purpose for social housing tenants’ needs. 

Your stated number one goal when you first became Premier was affordable housing, which made sense given the housing crisis we are in. But demolishing Sirius’s 79 apartments seems at odds with this goal. 

At a time of escalating homelessness, eroded housing affordability especially in the inner city, and a social housing waiting list of 60,000 families, the Sirius is publicly owned, empty and fit for purpose to house people who are homeless, key workers and social housing tenants. 

It is of great concern that the government could consider letting a developer associated with reports of significant defects, demolish and replace this socially and culturally significant heritage icon. 

We implore you not to sell the Sirius to a developer who will demolish the building and ask that you keep it in public hands to do what it was designed to do: house NSW’s most vulnerable people including people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and key workers. 

Regards,

Shaun Carter (Save Our Sirius), Clover Moore (City of Sydney), Alex Greenwich (Member for Sydney) and Jamie Parker (Member for Balmain).

Read ArchitectureAU’s coverage of the Sirius building and related issues here.


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