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    LAVA architect Sirius about saving Sydney’s brutalist landmark

    Nathan Johnson

    Some have called it a "brutalist eyesore" and for its demolition, others an essential part of Sydney’s architectural history and for its State Heritage listing. But there is one plan on the table to save Tao Gofers’ Sirius apartment building at The Rocks in Sydney that could appease both sentiments.

    Chris Bosse, director of LAVA has released concept drawings for the renovation of 79 apartment block building that would freeze the building’s brutalist form all the while facilitating a much needed amenity upgrade.

    Sirius was first designed by Gofers for the Housing Commission in 1978-79 and resulted from the People’s Plan for the Rocks, after the green bans saved the area from demolition and redevelopment.

    The building is owned by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority who, together with the Family and Community Services, wishes to sell the building, along with several other Millers Point public housing properties, in a bid to raise funds for more social housing.

    And while the Heritage Council is mounting a bid to have  the off-form concrete apartments listed by the State Heritage Register, Bosse has released a design concept that adds a third option to the debate.

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    At what cost? The LAVA plan could be difficult to manage structurally, cost a significant amount of money and see Sirius occupants relocated anyway. But it could also be a more sustainable option than knocking down and rebuilding.

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    Bosse was challenged by the Urban Taskforce to develop a new layer for Sirius that respects the original design while improving amenity. He responded by adding a ‘clip-on’ curved balcony onto each of the box like shapes that would provide residents with views towards the Opera House while reinforcing the pattern of the building.

    “Many Sydneysiders have seen the Sirius building as being unsympathetic to its historic neighbours and not having a character that celebrates its amazing setting overlooking Circular Quay,” says the Urban Taskforce.

    “[We] believe the Chris Bosse scheme demonstrates that the building can become more friendly in its appearance while respecting the original design intention. The Bosse design addition of clipped on balconies also gives the building a more Sydney- style appearance and relates the building to Sydney Harbour.”

    The original architect of the building, at 36-50 Cumberland Street, Tao (Theodore) Gofers, also told Fairfax Media that he is enthusiastic about the proposal.

     "I think adding balconies would be a very good idea," he said. "That's much better than demolishing it which would upset me a little bit," he says.

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