Sydney Open

Image credit: Interior of Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, UTS. Photo: Andrew Worssam

This article first appeared on Open Journal on October 5, 2015. Images courtesy of Sydney Open.

There’s something exciting about being granted access to spaces that are usually off limits to the public – and that’s exactly what makes the annual Sydney Open event such a special one.

For one day a year over 50 iconic Sydney buildings and spaces are unlocked and opened to the public. Among those at this year’s event on Sunday November 1 are the Harry Seidler-designed Australia Square, the UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building designed by Frank Gehry and 1920s-built beauties 48 and 50 Martin Place.

“Sydney’s wealth of great buildings and the way they tell the ever evolving story of Sydney is a key reason we run Sydney Open,” says Danielle Earp, the Sydney Open project manager at Sydney Living Museums, which have been running the event since 1997.

“Sydney is an unplanned city and for that reason, when you are on the ground there is a sense of discovery and surprise at every turn. Whether you’re a real heritage buff or an architectural enthusiast Sydney Open provides that rare chance to learn about and engage with some of Sydney’s most significant buildings.”

Central Station disused Platforms 26 and 27. Photo courtesy: Sydney Trains.
Central Station disused Platforms 26 and 27. Photo courtesy: Sydney Trains.

While Sydney Open is a ticketed event, pass holders have a chance to win a Golden Ticket. Essentially a coveted ticket into some of the most popular, limited capacity Sydney spaces to visit, including the St James Station Tunnels (which run beneath the station in Hyde Park); St Mary’s Cathedral’s Bell Tower; the disused 26 and 27 platforms at Central Station; a behind the scenes tour of the Sydney Opera House; and a trip to the top of the Sydney Town Hall Clock Tower.

“As an admirer of contemporary and modernist architecture, some of my favourite buildings include: Harry Seidler’s Grosvenor Place and Australia Square, and also One Farrer Place, home to Governor Macquarie and Governor Phillip Towers,” says Earp on her pick of must-see buildings at Sydney Open.

“I’m also looking forward to exploring the old ‘Money Box’ at 48 and 50 Martin Place – this year we are opening the ornate 1928 banking chamber and vault, as well as Macquarie Bank’s incredible contemporary headquarters designed by JPW.  There are also some fabulous new additions to the program in the Ultimo/Chippendale precinct including The Old Clare Hotel, Mortuary Station and the UTS buildings. I think the Science Faculty Building by Durbach Block Jaggers and BVN is really special with its combination of organic shapes, cast concrete forms and high-tech laboratories.”

The atrium, 50 Martin Place, Image credit: Hayley Richardson/Sydney Open
The atrium, 50 Martin Place, Image credit: Hayley Richardson/Sydney Open

With 50 buildings and spaces spanning Sydney CBD and nearby Ultimo and Chippendale (many of which will be offering talks and tours) and opening hours for most being between 10am and 4pm (some will be open for less), it’s best to get a plan in place before the day to make the most of your Sydney Open experience.

“Buy your tickets early and have your wristband posted to you (or collect ahead of the event at one of three available sites – Museum of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks Museum and Central Station) this will ensure you maximise time available for visiting as many sites as possible on the day,” advises Earp on how to make the most of the day. “Download the Sydney Open app and plan your itinerary for the day. Wear good walking shoes and allow for lunch and coffee breaks. Make sure you check the app throughout the day for advice and updates.“

Sydney Open is on Sunday November 1, 2015.