Sydney Open will showcase over 70 of Sydney’s most architecturally outstanding buildings over the weekend of 4-5 November, with visitors invited to explore the backstage of the city’s diverse architectural landscape. We chatted to Danielle Earp, the curator of Sydney Open, about what the project means for the local community and the future of heritage.
Can you give us a brief rundown of what the Sydney Open is and what the event hopes to achieve this year?
Sydney Open invites audiences to explore treasures that trace the city’s beginnings and the architectural wonders that are shaping its present and future. On Saturday 4 November, the program allows you to explore some of Sydney’s most in-demand spaces and buildings, old and new, with our expert-led Focus Tours taking you behind the scenes. On Sunday 5 November, take the reins and devise your own itinerary from our open-access program of over 40 buildings across the CBD, Central, Redfern and Eveleigh. It allows people the opportunity to go into spaces that are not usually accessible, to learn about their city, its history and its built environment.
This project spans from the CBD to Redfern to Eveleigh. What is it like to curate something on such a huge scale?
I really enjoy liaising with a large range of stakeholders and diverse sites – from world heritage sites, the latest architecture, cultural institutions, some incredible private homes and the underground tunnels and towers below and the tunnels beneath the city.
Sydney Living Museums has an incredible reputation and there is a lot of community support for the event, which makes the challenge a real privilege. I’ve worked on multi-venue large scale events in my past role (at The Biennale of Sydney), and really enjoy the challenge of considering the different demands and contributions of different sites and the diversity of the program.
You’ve curated both modern and traditional architecture in past Sydney Opens, including the spanking new EY Centre and St Mary’s Cathedral, which has a history spanning from 1882. How do you decide which buildings to feature on the day?
Buildings are included based on their historical and architectural significance. Sydney Open is Sydney Living Museum’s largest public program and as an organisation we place importance on heritage buildings as well as contemporary architectural buildings of merit – our future heritage.
Perceptions of Sydney’s architecture are often based on the Sydney Opera House or the Harbour Bridge. Do you think these common stereotypes are limiting the celebration of Sydney’s diverse architecture and if so, how is the Sydney Open trying to challenge these preconceptions?
I understand the point, however think that The Sydney Opera House is deserving of celebration, it is so inspirational, ahead of its time and an absolute masterpiece of architecture in so many ways – beyond the postcard stereotype it is often reduced to.
One of the things Sydney Open aims to do is increase public access to and knowledge about significant buildings – ticket holders can join a community of others interested in their city and its architecture. Ultimately the event highlights the importance of our built heritage and the role these sites can play in our future (via restoration and clever adaptive reuse). It also underscores the significance that quality contemporary architecture has into the future and the lasting impact that architecture can have in shaping our city.
How do you think Sydney’s architectural landscape has changed in recent times and what are your predictions for the future (for both Sydney’s architectural landscape and the Sydney Open)?
Sydney Open has grown from strength to strength – our audience has increased by over 40 percent since the event became annual in 2014. It’s so impressive to see how these growing audiences of Sydneysiders and visitors are keen to immerse themselves in this weekend, taking the opportunity to look up and engage more deeply with buildings that they may walk past every day … or to appreciate and better understand this city’s diverse architectural heritage and go behind the scenes in to spaces that wouldn’t normally have access to.
Rapid Fire Questions
Favourite piece of architecture from anywhere in the world?
Sydney Opera House.
Favourite architectural style? I.e. Romanesque, Gothic, Elizabethan, etc?
Movie that shows the best architecture?
That’s a difficult question! The Matrix features Sydney’s iconic Governor Phillip Tower and Macquarie Towers (One Farrer Place) and the house (and set-design) of the 1960’s Peter Seller’s Movie, The Party are pretty wonderful!
Featured Image: 50 Martin Place (c) Brett Boardman