Sydney Open 2012 Sun 4 Nov

November 5, 2012

Heartfelt thanks to the Sydney Open volunteers and guides from this Architecture Tragic! Fair weather; not overly crowded (where I was); lots of scampering up and down staircases.

Today’s is really a Note-to-Self so I can keep certain things in mind when planning for the next Sydney Open in 2014.

In 2014, re-visit Parliament House, On Seven and St James’ Church as part of the free Friday Night evening event.

Henry Davis York Building (44 Martin Place). Art Deco, 1938.  Photography not allowed, so I made some notes (but not of the meeting room at the far end (right). While there exists at least one photo of this light-filled foyer (probably the most light-filled of the whole day) on the Internet, the magnificent two entry pillars in Egyptian style are not in the photo (and I neglected to make notes). Worth doing some thumbnails in colour for 2014 which can compared with the real thing; despite standing, really worth hanging around to do slow sketches.

1 Bligh Street (see above). Foyer only, photography permitted. The modern trend is to have the internal building ‘infrastructure’ exposed, so lifts (far left) are visible. While crowded, seating is available (the seats alone are worth sketching). In 2014, bring a landscape-format sketchbook and do a vertical double-spread.

Deutsche Bank Place (126 Phillip St).  No photography in foyer or on L28. I wonder if the foyer and coffee shops therein are open to the public during the week, because the internal foyer space is very impressive. For 2014, try beforehand to elaborate on the 10-sec sketch of view (Royal Botanic Gardens, Finger Wharf, Garden Island, South Head and North Head) done this year and see how your imagination compares with the actual landscape (the view is more harbour-oriented than from upper levels of MLC, for example, which are more Eastern Suburbs-with-Tasman-Sea-beyond).

BMA House (135-137 Macquarie Street). Small foyer, crowded. Distinctly dark, ‘medieval’ interiors. For 2014,  sketch the facade and decoration. Identifying other buildings around Sydney linking Gothic/Medieval to Art Deco would be worthwhile. More useful for sketching architectural detail than internal spaces – the interior feels like moving around a monastery.

Chief Secretary’s Building  (121 Macquarie Street). No photography, small groups to balcony (interesting view of the red roofs of Mosman) and rooms (stunning Victorian dark-green walls with gold leaf patterning). The marble statue of NSW in the foyer is all the impressive given its painted stucco surround (including a brilliant pink). Interiors are very much darker than photos on the internet would have you believe. There is a stark contrast between the inward-looking rooms and the freshness of the balconies.

Royal Automobile Club of Australia (89 Macquarie Street). Dining rooms (partial views including glimpses of Circular Quay and Opera House) on various levels. Possible to sit down in the ground floor dining room, reading room and upstairs bar: subdued rooms and furniture in the Victorian style. Scope in 2014 for long-pose studies of furniture.

Property Council of Australia House (11 Barrack Street). Vastly different from my brief experience of its interior, probably thirty years ago. This began life as a bank and the entrance was originally a carriageway to the back, later filled in with a cedar staircase and magnificent stained glass windows. Charming balconies with a distinctly Greek feel; the tile roof is original 1930s, exceptionally rare in Sydney today. Great attention to its past with archaeological examples of earlier wall paintwork retained. For 2014, work up sketches of the balcony areas with their stunning columns. In the meantime, the statue of Athena outside in Barrack Street beckons.

The Grace Hotel (77 York Street). For 2014, work up sketch of upstairs corridor outside lift – magnificent lighting and geometric, coloured carpet. Like RAC, another case of taking time to sketch the furniture. Have a closer look at the Chicago building on which it was based.

I saw but a fraction of what was on offer. I’m mightily intrigued by the use of Victorian Green (a very particular grey/brown Dark Green, obviously much loved by historical architecture stylists) visible in all the Corridors of Power (Legislative Assembly, Chief Secretary’s;). Also,  I couldn’t get over the perennial use of coffered ceilings (in every interior of note up until the Modern Period?).

A sub-title of the day could well be “Architecture – Where Decisions Are Made“, given the heart-stopping interiors of Law Firms and Government. Certainly, law firms are the art patrons of today. There are several themes worth pursuing for future Sydney Opens so far as sketching is concerned:

– Art Deco and Art Deco Revisited (Sydnety really is an Art Deco town);

– theatrical spaces (a wide range of auditoria, old and new, were on show);

– Convict Connections (The Judge’s House which I imagine to be like the one in North Sydney;  Glover Cottages, etc.);

– All That Glitters (Great Synagogue, Sydney Masonic Centre).

I imagine being a member of Historic Houses Trust would facilitate ‘ordinary’ entry to their properties (Susannah Place Museum, Justice & Police Museum), many of which were open today.

There is more scope for Object Drawing than I anticipated – Art Deco furniture, and Victorian cedar furniture in particular. In fact, one could fill a sketchbook with what I’d dub ‘Victorian Green’ if one stuck to the Macquarie Street precinct, that Locus of Power – from Government House via Chief Secretary’s, Legislative Assembly, RAC, BMA and The Mint – but you’d have to have your muddy greens and polished cedar colours very well-honed beforehand. Victorian Red interiors include Sydney Town Hall and the Parliament’s Legislative Council.


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