Making. Housing. Affordable is the theme of the 13th Sydney Architecture Festival, which begins on 11 November with a week-long programme of events planned for all delegates.

Organised under the creative direction of Dr Barnaby Bennett, the Festival will feature engaging seminars, exhibitions, film screenings, drawing workshops, kayaking and walking tours and bookshop talks in various locations around the city, finally culminating in a series of events at Customs House in Circular Quay.

Focussing on this year’s theme, ‘Making. Housing. Affordable’, speakers drawn from a range of disciplines will reflect on issues of design, economics, environment, housing quality and housing affordability to answer the key question: What needs to change to make it affordable to have a home in Sydney?

Sydney Architecture Festival 2019 programme:

Walking tours

Design Innovation and Housing Choice in Redfern and Surry Hills hosted by Eoghan Lewis and Sydney Architecture Walks (3.30pm - 6pm Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)

The inner-city working-class suburbs of Redfern and Surry Hills, which were once associated with poverty and crime, have been transformed into urban hotspots featuring popular cafes, bars and restaurants as well as a thriving creative scene. This change has, however, come at a price. Set within the broader theme of housing affordability, the walking tours will explore these vibrant neighbourhoods and focus on housing choice, housing innovation and projects that engage wholeheartedly in community building.


Waterloo Towers sketching workshop (12 Noon - 2pm Friday)

Take a closer look at two of Sydney’s most controversial and interesting housing projects, the Matavai and Turanga buildings in Waterloo, which are scheduled for demolition in the coming years. These distinctive public housing towers will make way for development that will considerably change the landscape of Waterloo. Participants can take part in a multi-staged sketching and drawing workshop to better understand the significant history of these two towers.

Book launches

The Architecture Bookshop in Surry Hills will host a series of book and map launches, and talks (6.30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

The Architect's Bookshop is a design focused bookstore dedicated to architecture, interiors, landscape and urban design. Passionate about hunting down new titles and exposing Sydney to new practices and practice, the team at the store believes that “opening a bookshop isn't about making money. It's about making an investment in the community and ensuring we have a resource that will help influence our ideas and showcase the incredible work of Australian architects and designers". 

Free public symposium

Better Housing Now: a free two-day public symposium on housing affordability in NSW (Saturday 16 November and Sunday 17 November, 12 Noon - 2pm and 2.30pm - 4.30pm), Customs House, Circular Quay

Considered the keystone event of the festival, Better Housing Now takes an in-depth look at the complex and interconnected issues that have contributed to the housing affordability crisis in the city. In four sessions, ‘Setting the scene’, ‘Defining the terms’; ‘Squaring the circle’; and ‘A call to arms’, the city’s leading organisations, advocacy groups and designers will explore projects, identify problems, and propose solutions.

Better Housing Now is free for the public but each session requires registration.

Kayak tour

Unaffordable Housing Kayak Tour (10am Sunday)

Enjoy a beautiful kayaking tour on Sydney’s stunning harbour and experience some of Sydney’s most unaffordable housing areas. The 90-minute tour led by architect Tim Williams starts at the spit and will show participants rare insights into the suburbs of Clontarf, Beauty Point, North Balgowlah, Castlecrag, and the prestigious Balgowlah Heights.


The Architectures of Affordability: Timothy Hill and Paul Karakusevic (Sunday 17 November 5.30pm - 8.30pm) Customs House, Circular Quay

The Sydney Architecture Festival 2019 closes with a very special evening that will both interrogate and celebrate the value of architecture as a response to problems of affordability with orations from one of Australia’s most celebrated thinkers and designers Timothy Hill, and leading British architect Paul Karakusevic.

The 13th Sydney Architecture Festival will run from Monday 11 November to Sunday 17 November 2019.