university of nsw part 2: a bit of brutalism

One of the references I took with me on my recent trip to Sydney was the Brutalist Sydney map. It covers a massive area of Sydney from Penrith to Pennant Hills and Circular Quay to Sutherland. This is way more ground than I was intending to cover in the week I was there, when my main plan was to explore Randwick.

The map was developed by Glenn Harper of @brutalist_project_sydney, who writes

At a point where many Brutalist buildings within Sydney are either being ‘disfigured’ or demolished, this map reveals an incredible and inspiring range of late modern projects that contribute to a functioning and modern-day city. Many of these buildings while being listed as significant on various heritage lists, have limited owner support due in part to a shift in socio-political thinking especially away from government led design and government owned projects. For many of these buildings, their current failing is they once symbolised government investment and a desire for civic inclusiveness. Given this current political climate and the pressure for ongoing development, the Brutalist buildings of Sydney indeed require our attention as we will never be able to match this level of craftsmanship again.

Glenn Harper, Brutalist Sydney

Not being familiar with Sydney architecture, I don’t know how many of these buildings might be in this situation. There is one that I’m very aware of, which I’ll talk about in a later post, but I’m sure there are many many others. I don’t even know if all the buildings on the map even still exist, given it was published in 2017. I’m sure many of them will have been “modernised”.

Glenn describes how, as these buildings were design and constructed, many of them through the NSW Government Architect and architects of the NSW Public Works Department, there was a need for “access to high quality concrete, artistry which combined a variety of concrete or brick textures, and appropriate engineering advice and structural detailing to convey ‘memorable form’.”

As I was sitting in my hotel room in Randwick staying out of the heat, and wondering what buildings to visit next, I noticed there were two University of NSW buildings listed that had somehow escaped my attention on my previous visits.

Decision made!

Sir John Clancy Auditorium (1971)

The first was one I must have walked past and not noticed. This is Sir John Clancy Auditorium, designed by Fowell Mansfield Jarvis and Macluran, with M S Holmood as project architect. It was built in 1971.

Its original sculptural form was “overshadowed by later developments” around it, and it was refurbished in 2019, with new canopies added, including this new, very visible glass entrance. So it looks significantly different to its original design (which you can see at the UNSW website – look for the top picture, Kensington Campus 1970s on the time line).

They also seem to have this thing at UNSW for painting concrete.

Substantial alterations plus paint equals I totally missed this on my earlier visits.

The second UNSW building to feature on the map is Goldstein Hall. It was designed by the NSW Government Architect (at the time, Dr Edward Herbert Farmer), with Peter Hall as project architect and built 1962-1964.

Goldstein Hall (1962-1964)

This building (some sources say the dining room) won the Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter) Sulman Medal in 1966.

Goldstein Hall

Note the paint. I say no more.

Goldstein Hall

Goldstein Hall is a residential college and you can see some early photos of it from the 1960s here. It sounds like the building was updated in 2012-13 and the dining room has also been upgraded.

Goldstein Hall

The redesign project by TKD Architects also “saw the revitalisation of the original 1964 Bert Flugelman sculpture courtyard, a vibrant outdoor space within the expanded residential college”.

Bert Flugelman sculpture courtyard, Goldstein Hall

Completely random fun fact, Bert Flugelman also created the Spheres (aka Mall’s Balls) sculpture in Rundle Mall in Adelaide and the Cones in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery in Canberra. This UNSW sculpture from 1964 was one of his early pieces.


1 thought on “university of nsw part 2: a bit of brutalism

  1. Pingback: university of nsw part 3: chancellery | straightlinesgirl images

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