If cities didn’t have their iconic landmarks, such as Sydney’s infamous Opera House, or Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station, would they have an all-new identity? Or would it just be the same thumb, but a different fingerprint?

Some of these city centre below, are dug out  of architectural archives to reimagine what our most iconic architectural touchstones, might have been.


Modern architecture for Perth could’ve looked very differently had Pier Luigi Nervi’s vision for a New Norcia Cathedral and Monastery come to fruition.

“Located about an hour and a half outside Perth, New Norcia is a monastic town, home to the order of St. Benedict. Following a major Catholic pilgrimage in 1951, the town’s abbot decided to make the town a tourist destination. In 1957, Abbot Gregory Gomez commissioned an impressive new cathedral and monastery to be built where the cemetery is currently located, between St. Gertrude’s college and St. Ildephonsus’ College,” according to Budget Direct.

“If built, the cathedral would have seated 820, with standing room for 1,000. Three parabolic arches sit on top of an equilateral triangle, all facing outward. Behind the cathedral stood a new 3-storey monastery, with 114 cells for the order’s monks.”

“But at 800,000 dollars, the project’s price tag proved to be too much. Although the community called for contributions and the order sold off other parcels of land, the cathedral was never built.”


When Australia’s government announced a competition in 1911 to design a new capital for the nation, over a hundred entries flooded in from around the world. When the dust settled, the designs of Chicago architect Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahony Griffin, remained.

“(He used) the idea of putting the people above the parliament by using the landscape to create that kind of response to Australia’s population and democracy,” says Amy Lay, curator of the National Archives of Australia.

 “World War I tightened the nation’s purse strings, however, and bureaucrats steadily took away the young architect’s authority. Griffin eventually resigned, and the plans were never fully realised.”


“American architect Walter Burley Griffin appears for the second time on our list, this time for a some-what familiar design that would have transformed Melbourne’s Jolimont railway yards, on the edge of the city’s central business district.”


“The capital of New South Wales is home to Australia’s oldest legislative chamber. But the quarters of Sydney’s Legislative Assembly might have looked much differently if plans proposed by Irish architect William H. Lynn had been implemented.”


Sometimes a plan is so lofty, that actually getting it off the ground is nearly impossible. This proved to be the case for the Holy Name Cathedral, a massive structure that was proposed for construction in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in 1928.

The cathedral was intended to be the highlight of Brisbane Archbishop James Duhig’s career – with enough room to hold 4,000, it would have been the single biggest cathedral in the world. The structure was to have included an 82-meter cupola and an imposing concrete dome in the Renaissance style.

But at a projected cost of a million dollars (80 million dollars in today’s figures), plans were stalled when the Great Depression of 1929 hit Brisbane. And although the foundation stone was placed at the site, the cathedral was never built.