The Sydney Architecture Festival is back for its 11th incarnation and, this time, the event is focusing on the west. Between Friday, September 29 and Monday, October 2, you'll be treated to talks, tours, exhibitions and parties celebrating the city's most beautiful, unusual and controversial buildings — from Punchbowl's new contemporary mosque to The Rocks' Sirius, which was recently saved from demolition.
To be among the first Sydneysiders to learn about the former, head to Punchbowl, on Saturday, September 30 at 11am. There, Harry Seidler Award-winning architect Angelo Candalepas, who designed the building, will be launching it to the public. He'll also be chatting about the "Aussie mosque" and the role of architecture in increasing cross-cultural understanding with a panel of commentators. Tickets, which include lunch, are free, but online bookings are essential.
"We're inviting Sydneysiders to join the community of Sydney's newest mosque to experience this modern concrete masterpiece," said Tim Horton, festival director. "The festival is also embracing Sydney's love affair with concrete: not only as a brutalist material, but as one that is found in every building we make."
It's difficult to imagine modern-day Sydney without the influence of brutalism, the concrete-driven movement that dominated architecture in the 1960s and '70s. To help you find out more about it, the festival is running brutalist history tours, starting at the festival hub — in the new Peter Shergold Building at Western Sydney University in Parramatta — and finishing at Millers Point. Along the way, you'll be led by architect Glenn Harper and comedian Tim Ross, as you take in Sirius, the Surry Hills Police Centre and the Masonic Centre, among other buildings. Tickets are $25 and can be booked online.
Meanwhile, if you're wondering what Sydney might look like in another two decades, when another 1.7 million people have joined the multitude, then check out Missing Middle, an exhibition happening at the hub, where you'll see a bunch of solutions to population growth dreamed up by various architects. It's free and open every day during the festival.
The festival's biggest party though, is the launch. Hosted in partnership with The Fifth Estate, it's a river cruise, departing King Street Wharf on Friday, September 29 at 430pm, and landing in Parramatta. Between drinks, you'll be invited to partake in a forum about sustainable and affordable development in Sydney's west, featuring experts in planning, government, community and design. Tix are available here.
And closing proceedings on Monday, October 2 will be the World Architecture Day Oration, delivered by Kristien Ring, a Pittsburgh-born architect, curator and author now living in Berlin, who'll be discussing a citizen-led housing model, which has the potential to reduce Sydney's housing prices by 15-30 percent. If you're curious, tickets are $25 and include lunch provided by OzHarvest.
Images: Steven Siewert.