Sydney’s Sirius Building

This is Myra Demetriou, 90 years old, and refusing to leave her home. She lives in Sydney in public housing with “million dollar views”. She opened up her home for a couple of houes this morning to encourage awareness about the campaign to stop the building in which she lives from being pulled down.

If you’ve ever crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and looked over to the Sydney Opera House, there’s a good chance you’ve also seen the Sirius Building. Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s ugly. It’s a classic example of architectural brutalism.

Despite its ugliness, the building has been home to a number of people for around forty years. Many have been there since the 1970s, when the NSW Government approved developments in Miller’s Point which forced people out of existing public housing. The Sirius Building was the replacement. And now, forty years later, the NSW Government wants to move those people on again. Or should I say, “has moved those people on”, because there’s just Myra (and I think one other resident) refusing to leave.

This morning, for a couple of hours, the group campaigning to keep the building did their best to “humanise” the story of Myra and the many other people who have lived in the building. Amidst a strong campaign in the media that “people in public housing shouldn’t have million dollar views”, it was awesome to meet Myra. It was an absolute privilege to be invited into her home. “Do you mind if I take a photograph?”, I asked her. “Of me?”, she said with a surprised voice. “So long as you put it on Facebook and tell everyone about this”, she added.

Also speaking this morning was the building’s architect, Tao Gofers who located the building’s construction within the context of 1970s green bans, the activist work of Jack Mundy and the women of Kelly’s Bush.