Bold plan to preserve rare Sydney buildings

The MLC CentreCity of Sydney Councillors have approved a bold new plan to protect some of Sydney’s most significant twentieth century buildings from being destroyed.

A heritage study commissioned by the City recommended nine examples of Modern Movement architecture for local heritage listing. Local heritage listing ensures that any future development will consider heritage impacts as part of the application process, encouraging the retention of significant building features to maintain the distinctive character.

The Heritage Council of NSW says the Modern Movement period produced some of the twentieth century’s most important architecture, including styles known as Modern, International, Brutalist and Sydney School. The post-war period of 1945 – 1975 was one of the most significant periods of development in Central Sydney determining much of the city’s current physical form and character.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the Modern Movement era was an important chapter in Sydney’s architectural history and should be preserved. “Sydney is home to many rare examples of post-war modern architecture, built while the city was experiencing major change in the decades after World War II,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

“Architects of the Modern Movement were reformers. They responded to the social, political and economic upheaval caused by industrialisation and world wars and this architecture therefore reflects a key moment in Sydney’s history.”

“Many buildings from this period have sadly been demolished or modified beyond recognition and only five built between 1945-1975 in central Sydney are listed on state, national or world heritage lists – so it is essential we preserve these important contributions to our city’s architecture for future generations.”

The buildings proposed for local listing includes office towers, a church, community buildings and an artwork:

  • Sydney Masonic Building, 279-283 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
  • Former Sydney County Council Building, 552A-570 George Street, Sydney
  • St Peter Julian’s Catholic Church and Monastery, 637-645 George Street, Haymarket
  • Town Hall House, 456 Kent Street, Sydney
  • William Bland Centre, 229-231 Macquarie Street, Sydney
  • MLC Centre, 19-35 Martin Place, Sydney
  • Former Liverpool and London and Globe building, 62 Pitt Street, Sydney
  • Former Horwitz House, 398-402 Sussex Street, Haymarket
  • ‘Earth Mother’ play sculpture, Yurong Parkway, Cook and Phillip Park, Sydney

Brutalist buildings such as the Sydney Masonic Centre and Town Hall House have become synonymous with Sydney’s skyline, alongside other buildings recommended for heritage listing including the former Sydney County Council Building and the MLC Centre.

Less prominent but valuable examples include the Peter Julian Catholic Church and the Former Horwitz House in Haymarket. The Sydney Opera House became Sydney’s first building to gain world heritage status in 2007 and is considered one of the greatest examples of the Modern Movement.

The planning proposal will now be considered by the Greater Sydney Commission. If approved, it will be placed on exhibition for public comment. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The MLC Centre (supplied)