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Sydney’s brutalist Bioscience building heritage listed

G13th December 2016

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Tarchitecture, heritage

The National Trust in New South Wales has added the University of Sydney’s brutalist School of Molecular Bioscience building to its heritage register.

The ABC reported yesterday that the National Trust of Australia in New South Wales have added the University of Sydney’s Brutalist-style Molecular Bioscience building (also known as G08) to its heritage register. Whilst such a listing provides no legal protection from demolition or significant alteration, it recognises the significance of a building which epitomises the Brutalist style of architecture in Australia.

Black and white photo of brutalist building photographed from ground level

The School of Molecular Bioscience building at the University of Sydney is an excellent example of early 1970’s Brutalist-style architecture.

Brutalism was a movement in architecture which gained popularity in Australia in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The style is distinguished by its use of raw (untreated) textured concrete and heavy shapes jostling for attention. Ramps and stairwells are often used to add visual interest in a composition that values function over decoration. G08 was constructed between 1970 and 1973.

Looking up at waffle ceiling

Waffle ceilings beneath the verandah at the School of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Sydney.

Many people in the community detest Brutalist buildings. G08 has long been considered one of the ugliest buildings at the University of Sydney. During a visit to New South Wales in 2012, I photographed G08 using black-and-white film. The use of this medium to capture such a monumental building shows it off in its best light and I am really pleased that the National Trust recognises the significance of G08. Like it or loathe it, there’s no denying the significance of this building to the story of Australian architecture in the twentieth century.

The stairway up to G08 at the University of Sydney, showing the waffle ceiling and heavy concrete design elements.

The stairway up to G08 at the University of Sydney, showing the waffle ceiling and textured concrete design elements.

For the building to receive formal legal protection, it needs to be added to the State Heritage Register in NSW. The University of Sydney have no current plans to demolish G08.

   

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