The Sydney Open lecture series, hosted by the Historic Houses Trust, is leant serious credence by its speakers. Award-winning architect Peter Stutchbury will be joined by the Sydney Morning Herald's 'Title Deeds' columnist Jonathan Chancellor, and an equally impressive array of curators, historians and property specialists. The talks (and a few open house tours that are bound to fill up fast) are conveniently split up into architectural types. If you’re crazy about terraces, there is a lecture dedicated solely to them. And if you’re keen to hear about apartments or the quintessential Australian beach shack, there are talks for you too.
The lectures will appeal to a broad audience, according to Historic Houses Trust assistant director and speaker Caroline Butler-Bowdon, so don't worry if you don't have a subscription to Habitus or religiously follow property price projections. The insights you’ll hear about Sydney's real estate evolution, where it might be going, and the potential environmental impacts of our city's tendency to build increasingly bigger homes, are sure to keep your attention.
“We’re about inspiring the general public about architecture and the world around them," explains Butler-Bowdon. "The series will give a strong picture of why our streets look the way they do, how we’ve lived in the past, how we live at the moment, and the diversity of housing that Sydney offers.”
The speakers will take the audience through a specific housing type’s history, development, influences, materials, the technologies used in its construction and information about its social and urban context.
The series also packs some surprises, and sheds light on Sydney’s less appreciated forms of architecture – the portable house and the project home. “The project homes evening will revisit some of the fantastic work of project houses in Sydney in the 1960s," Says Butler-Bowdon. "They were excellently designed, made excellent use of their sites and were economical in the sense of every centimetre counting.”
These public discussions are particularly well-timed given current concerns surrounding the city’s housing affordability crisis and calls to increase density in middle suburbia. And Butler-Bowdon recognises that this has paved the way for a reconsideration of apartment living and the potential re-emergence of terrace housing. “From the first apartments in the first decade of the 20th century through to contemporary analyses of them, apartments have always been stigmatised as the slums of the future," she says. "But in the last ten to 20 years apartments have become much more part of the mainstream as the demography of Sydney has changed."
You can expect these architectural talks to, er, hit home too. “Homes are personal," says Butler-Bowdon. "Everybody makes a different choice, and it’s not necessarily the architecture or design of them that makes them special. While the series iooks at these aspects, I think the home is the people who live in it.”