Circular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000

August 20, 2012

5×8″ sketchbook, double-spread, 50mins, midday late Winter.

Originally intended to do some thumbnails of the Russell Hotel, George St The Rocks and also of the new extension to the Museum of Contemporary Art, but at midday today the crowds were too heavy in around the start of the parade of the Australian Olympic athletes through Sydney. I opted instead for the Cahill Expressway pedestrian footway, in the style of Italian urban sketchers specialising in panoramas.

I was unprepared for the ‘marker’s on the horizon: the flag mast of Observatory Hill, the Sydney Harbour Maritime Control Tower and the clock tower of The Rocks shopping centre. The south face of the MCA is currently under wraps, Christo-like, for renovation.

What I find I’ve inadvertently drawn  is the “Highgate Line”, an imaginary line traversing Sydney from east to west, in front of which no tall buildings are, by mutual consent between government and developers, to be built, thus protecting views to Sydney Harbour. Regardless of the fact that buildings in Macquarie Street near the Opera House already break the unwritten rule of the Highgate Line, there is debate about whether or not new high-rise in Barangaroo should follow suit. Just as commercial interests pressed for ‘The Toaster’ to be built (admittedly on the basis that previous buildings were already that high), I imagine State government approval will be given to high-rise development in Barangaroo in due course, affording uninterrupted views to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House down Sydney Harbour east to the Heads. Money always speaks louder than aesthetics and quality of life for the common good in Sydney; inferior urban planning and dysfunctional buildings are the dregs left over for Sydney’s residents once the rich have made their money and moved on.


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