This Week in Sydney #1

February 11, 2011

* Burwood. A new RALAN skyscraper is going up next to the railway line the near the station, opposite Woolies. The lot has been vacant for many, many years with only a single, small crane to show its former use as railway land. I suspect the crane was used as part of a goods or freight operation, though the current Western Line is much elevated. Most recently it has been a makeshift car park. In recent weeks though, pile drivers have been at work around the perimeter and just this week, soil dug from around the edges is building up in the centre. I’m intrigued by the work of those Urban Sketchers who document buildings from vacant lot to the finished product, notably the Tokyo correspondent who is fast running out of paper every time she draws the ever-rising tallest-tower-in-Tokyo. This potential building in Burwood is so large I’ve found it difficult to locate a suitable vantage point. The best I can do is the rooftop Woolies carpark, but one has to do battle with car drivers desperate for a vacant spot! Safety barriers have now made it virtually impossible for me to sketch backhoes and I’m hoping for some time to take in the piledriver, which I am committing to memory. Architecturally, the tower will probably be of the unmemorable sort recently built around Strathfield and Auburn railway stations, but I’ll be watching the progress of its building with interest.

* Waterloo, Joynton Street. The gorgeous sandstone bollards and facade of the Royal South Sydney Hospital are still visible, though they will all vanish quickly. Best in the morning. The “older style” of hospital architecture is fast disappearing from Sydney and NSW hospitals; Royal North Shore is in the process of doing a complete makeover of its old buildings facing Herbert Street. 

* Redfern, Chalmers Street. Redfern Oval. The recent makeover is a masterpiece of innovative landuse. Interesting views of housing commission towers in the morning.

* Central Station, east Devonshire Tunnel. Recent renovations of the Railway Institute Building have been finished. The glorious northern facade, with its intricate Dutch-inspired brickwork (another example exists in King Street North, Newtown, opposite Gould’s Bookshop) is best seen from the end of Platform 19.

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