Public Sydney Drawing the City

Open democratic society is founded on public life in all its manifestations. This book examines the physical space of the city, its public rooms and public places, to better understand the structure, architecture and landscape of the city.

Public space, the space of the citizens, is the physical representation of democracy; the open city of streets, parks, promenades, quays and cuts, bridges and subterranean ways, squares and courts, lanes and avenues, infrastructure and transport, monuments and memorials.

Public rooms are the outward face of public institutions; great or small, grand or intimate, they represent and accommodate public life, encompassing social, cultural, political and judicial, collective, administrative, recreational, sporting, educational, environmental, religious and secular institutions.

The result of a decade of effort, this survey re-presents many of the public buildings and public spaces in central Sydney. The best are studied in detail over time, often revealing the successive layers of the city – a city in constant change. The sites, the buildings and spaces, and their surrounds have all been transformed over time as the city has become more complex, intense and over-written by successive layers of history.

The book was generously assisted by the Historic Houses Trust, UNSW Built Environment, City of Sydney, Government Architect’s Office and features contributions from a number of leading architects and landscape architects. It is due for release in early 2013, in conjunction with an exhibition curated by the Historic Houses Trust.

A recording of the 2013 Sydney Writer’s Festival session that Philip Thalis and Peter-John Cantrill participated in can be viewed here