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SYDNEY’S FIRST SKYSCRAPER

17 Apr

Sydney’s skyline changed in 1912 when its tallest building to date, Culwulla Chambers, was built on the corner of King Street and Castlereagh Street to a height of 50 metres (165 feet). Designed by Spain, Cosh and Minnett the building consisted of 14 floors and cost a record £100,000 to build.

Culwulla Chambers was hailed a skyscraper by the press, however in being a masonry construction rather than a metal frame, it was simply a tall building.

The construction of Culwulla Chambers resulted in much controversy. People feared Sydney would develop a ‘New York style’ skyline and the building itself was considered a potential fire hazard, as fire ladders could not reach its maximum height.

The hulking mass over King Street circa 1914.

The same view today. Interestingly, the streetscape is still quite recognizable. The Culwulla Chambers are not so threatening as before.

As a result of this concern a subsequent amendment was made to building regulations prohibiting the erection of buildings taller than 45 metres (150 feet). This regulation remained in force until the AMP building was constructed at Circular Quay in 1961.

Sydney’s tallest buildings through history

01. St James Spire 1820, 52m
02. Sydney Town Hall 1868 Clock tower 57 m 187 ft
03. JOHN KEEP warehouse, 1883, 30 metres (100 feet) 7 floors
04. Australia Hotel 1889 44m, (Finial 62m) 9 floors
05. Societe Generale House 1896 42 metres 7 floors
06. Culwulla Chambers 1912 50 metres (165 feet) 14 floors
07. T&G Tower 1930 roof-46m, top of spire-71m demolished 1975
08. AWA Building (Wireless House) 1939 112 m 367 ft
09. AMP 1961 106m
10. State Office Block 1965, 128m
11. Australia Square Tower – 170m – 50 floors 1967
12. AMP Centre – 188m – 45 floors 1976
13. MLC Centre – 228m (Antenna 244m) 67 floors 1977
14. Sydney Tower Roof 275m (Antenna 309m) 19 floors 1981

Credit- with thanks to Culwulla

T&G Tower 1930

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SYDNEY'S FIRST SKYSCRAPER

17 Apr

Sydney’s skyline changed in 1912 when its tallest building to date, Culwulla Chambers, was built on the corner of King Street and Castlereagh Street to a height of 50 metres (165 feet). Designed by Spain, Cosh and Minnett the building consisted of 14 floors and cost a record £100,000 to build.

Culwulla Chambers was hailed a skyscraper by the press, however in being a masonry construction rather than a metal frame, it was simply a tall building.

The construction of Culwulla Chambers resulted in much controversy. People feared Sydney would develop a ‘New York style’ skyline and the building itself was considered a potential fire hazard, as fire ladders could not reach its maximum height.

The hulking mass over King Street circa 1914.

The same view today. Interestingly, the streetscape is still quite recognizable. The Culwulla Chambers are not so threatening as before.

As a result of this concern a subsequent amendment was made to building regulations prohibiting the erection of buildings taller than 45 metres (150 feet). This regulation remained in force until the AMP building was constructed at Circular Quay in 1961.

Sydney’s tallest buildings through history

01. St James Spire 1820, 52m
02. Sydney Town Hall 1868 Clock tower 57 m 187 ft
03. JOHN KEEP warehouse, 1883, 30 metres (100 feet) 7 floors
04. Australia Hotel 1889 44m, (Finial 62m) 9 floors
05. Societe Generale House 1896 42 metres 7 floors
06. Culwulla Chambers 1912 50 metres (165 feet) 14 floors
07. T&G Tower 1930 roof-46m, top of spire-71m demolished 1975
08. AWA Building (Wireless House) 1939 112 m 367 ft
09. AMP 1961 106m
10. State Office Block 1965, 128m
11. Australia Square Tower – 170m – 50 floors 1967
12. AMP Centre – 188m – 45 floors 1976
13. MLC Centre – 228m (Antenna 244m) 67 floors 1977
14. Sydney Tower Roof 275m (Antenna 309m) 19 floors 1981

T&G Tower 1930

The Renaissance wonders of Sydney

2 Apr

Sydney is actually home to a large amount of Renaissance-inspired architecture.

01- Image- Palazzo Strozzi, Florence.
Real Renaissance palazzo in Florence- the source of so much Western architecture.
Link- http://www.italian-architecture.info/FL/FL-005.htm

From approximately 1910 to 1940, the dominant style for Sydney commercial architecture was that of the commercial pallazo.

02- Image- Union Club (1883- 87, demolished).
Based on Barry’s great Reform Club in London, Renaissance language used here to denote dependability and connection with high culture.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/GON/GON14.htm

This was partly due to the conservative nature of Australian architecture, and partly due to the height limit set (150 ft until 1961) after the scandalously gigantic Culwulla Chambers.


03- Image- Culwulla Chambers, Warehouse style.
The more radical but domestic style of Federation Freestyle. Decidedly unsophisticated.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd4-014.htm

Above- the hulking mass of Culwulla Chambers shocked Sydneysiders. Anything this high was banned until 1961.

Up until 1910, high buildings in Sydney has been based on either Victorian of Federation/Queen Anne/Warehouse style. This style was, however, somewhat pedestrian for the great commercial buildings that were growing like mushrooms during the 1920s. A more impressive style was needed.

04- Image- University Club (1896- 1900), New York, by McKim, Mend & White.
Also based on the Reform.
Link- http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/MID048.htm

05- Image- The Goelet Building (1886-87), New York, by McKim, Mead & White.
The proportions of the palazzo suddenly spring to life on a city scale.
Link- http://www.nyc-architecture.com/CHE/CHE027-GoeletBuilding.htm

06- Image- The Flatiron Building (1903), by D H Burnham & Co.
A massive Renaissance palazzo complete with well defined base, shaft and capitol.
Link- http://www.nyc-architecture.com/GRP/GRP024.htm

In New York, McKim, Mead and White had successfully based a high-rise on a Renaissance pallazo. This was a logical thing to do, as small-scale mansions and banks had been doing this consistently through the nineteenth century. The beauty about the commercial Renaissance pallazo style was that, as the building had a well developed base and capitol, the “shaft” could be as long as required without upsetting the proportions of the building.
As this style best suited medium sized buildings without setbacks, it endured far longer in Sydney than elsewhere.

07- Image- Former Daily Telegraph Building (1912-16), King & Castlereagh Streets, Sydney, by Robertson & Marks. 155 KING STREET SYDNEY, The Trust Building.
This building, as with the Herald building below, is a superb civic jesture. As a piece of architecture it exclaims confidence in Sydney and its place in the world.
Interestingly, the Daily Telegraph was designed to house all of the newspaper’s functions, with the printing presses located in the basement and sub-basement. The greater part of the ground floor was given over to large, high, public space – the Advertising Hall – with offices on two levels grouped around it. Above it there was a complicated arrangement of low storeys, double-height storeys and mezzanines accommodating paper storage, stereo room and composing room. On the fourth floor, high-ceilinged spaces were provided for the board room, library and editorial staff, with five storeys of conventional office space above. While hardly satisfying Sullivan’s dictum about form following function, the Daily Telegraph’s facades loosely acknowledged the existence of the differing activities going on behind them, especially the bi-partite treatment of the building’s base.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd4-049.htm

08- Image- The former Sydney Morning Herald Building.  Quite superb.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd4-056.htm

09- Image- Commonwealth Bank (1913-14), Martin Place & Pitt St. Sydney, by John Fitzpatrick.
The very model of civilised dependability. The “money-box building”.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd5-04.htm

10- Image- Former Manchester Unity Oddfellows’ Building (1921-23), Elizabeth Street, by John P Tate & Young. Sydney.
Interesting building this. The Oddfellows were a quasi- secret society, whose good deeds included life insurance policies for the poor.
Interesting use of eastern temple language, especially as it is next to the Great Synagogue.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd4-052.htm

11- Image- Former Farmer’s Store (c 1930). George & Market Streets, by Robertson & Marks. Sydney.
Shows how department stores were viewed as important prestigious social institutions (as they were, with the mail order component tying the country together).
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd4-055.htm

12- Image- Gowings Bros (1912, 1929) 318 George & Market Streets, by Robertson & Marks and C H McKellar. Sydney.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd4-040.htm

13- Image- Former Shell House (1938), Carrington & Margaret Streets, by Spain & Cosh. Sydney.
This terracotta-clad Renaissance palazzo is very late, about the last example in Sydney. It has a strong Art-Deco influence, but is still strongly bound to the Renaissance massing conventions.
The Rural Bank of Martin Place (demolished) of 1939 was strongly Art Deco. Perhaps Shell saw this as too radical.
Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/cbd/cbd4-048.htm

More info- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/GALL/GALL-PALAZZO.htm

163 Castlereagh Street- Sydney lost some heritage today

17 May

The former Angus and Son coachbuilders building was demolished today to make way for the entry area for the new Grocon / ANZ  high-rise tower at 163 Castlereagh Street.

The building last week, now demolished.  The demolition hoardings were being erected.  The building was the showroom for ‘Angus and Son, Motor Cars Carriages and Buggies’. Angus and Son were an important carriage maker at the turn of the century- they disappeared with the introduction of the imported motor car. This Edwardian building was built at the end of their power. The five arched windows were originally above doorways. The top floor was a large naturally lit showroom.

Above- a rather sketchy image from the Angus and Son catalogue, circa 1902.

Angus and Son coachbuilders were established in the mid nineteenth century. The catalogue was produced some 57 years after their establishment at the end of the horse drawn era and at the beginning of the motorised transport. The catalogue was produced to illustrate their leading and favourite types of horse drawn vehicles.

The Angus and Son catalogue is a 40 page booklet, stapled in the centre with a cardboard cover. The cover bears the title ‘Principal Depot and Show Rooms’, a photograph of the facade of the building and the address ‘165-167 Castlereagh Street (between Park and Market Streets) Sydney’. The building on the cover features the wording ‘Angus and Son, Motor Cars Carriages and Buggies’.

The catalogue is illustrated with photographs and line drawings of the types of horsedrawn vehicles available for purchase from the company. The drawings are accompanied by notes on specific features, prices and materials.

The future elevation, showing the public entry area to the new 46story, 188m 163 Castlereagh St office tower.

Also to be demolished, the striking Brutalist Greater Union Pitt Centre (along with “corduroy concrete” facade).

Heritage items on the site

Fight to save Tilba underlines heritage neglect

29 Mar

Here is an article related to the destruction of heritage here in Sydney . A perfectly good building to be destroyed with less scrutiny than would be engendered when applying to build a new front yard fence.


Virginia Judge … fighting to save Tilba from demolition.

JONATHAN CHANCELLOR March 22, 2010 SMH

Tilba, the 1913 Edwardian-style Burwood Heights residence, faces demolition. Its new owner, the developer Farah Elias, wants to build a three-storey unit block.

Its fate rests with the Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, who has given Tilba a 40-day reprieve to assess its heritage merits, following public concerns expressed through the local member, Virginia Judge.

Tilba represents an early skirmish in the unfolding battle across Sydney between those who want ever more housing and those who seek to preserve what we value.

It is among hundreds of worthy houses that at the very least contribute to the character of the suburb. Many would argue that it does more, and ought to have been listed long ago by Burwood council on its local environment plan.

But Tilba, and many like it, face the prospect of virtual overnight demolition, now that private certifiers are allowed to approve demolition and development, all without notifying neighbours.

This has been allowed by the heritage and planning laws, initially sought by the then planning minister Frank Sartor in 2007, which passed through Parliament last year under Kristina Keneally’s stewardship.

The five-bedroom Liverpool Road house that sits on a 1650-square-metre block sold last November for a record $2.8 million. Most people inspecting it assumed its meticulous restoration would lead to a new family taking up residency, following in the footsteps of its first occupant, produce merchant Alfred Berwick.

Tilba sits on the ring of properties surrounding one of Sydney’s most renown streetscapes, the National Estate-listed Appian Way.

Appian Way was a model housing estate conceived by a wealthy steel industrialist, George Hoskins, who turned eight hectares of land known as Humphreys Paddock into an estate of 36 spacious, low-set bungalows surrounding a village green. Its development coincided with the garden city movement, the urban planning approach founded in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in Britain.

About 30 of the original houses still stand within the Appian Way.

While the Appian Way is somewhat protected, surrounding houses have no such surety. Indeed, the last comprehensive heritage study undertaken by Burwood Council was in 1986. Only about 250 of its 5500 houses are on its heritage list.

Many other councils have similarly neglectful heritage lists, which often involved little more than a survey done from behind a car windscreen some three decades ago. These were done shortly after the National Trust hit its strides after the Wran government’s 1977 heritage legislation.

Camden, which has the pioneer spirit deep into its veins, protects just 100 properties. Only 120 houses are protected across the Cooma-Monaro shire.

Hunters Hill ranks among the thorough councils, with almost 600 properties on its list, along with Ku-ring-gai’s 700 and Woollahra’s 800.

Jon Breen, the president of the Burwood Historical Society, is hoping for a mayoral minute from John Sidoti, and council support at tomorrow’s meeting, which might just help save Tilba

Source- http://www.smh.com.au/business/fight-to-save-tilba-underlines-heritage-neglect-20100321-qo45.html