The Sirius building is an apartment complex in The Rocks district of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Designed for the Housing Commission of New South Wales in 1978–1979 by commission architect Tao Gofers, the building is a prominent example of Brutalist architecture in Australia. It also has striking repetitive geometries in reaction to the Japanese metabolist architecture movement. Notable for being the only high rise development in The Rocks, Sirius housed 79 apartments with one, two, three or four bedrooms, generally with single storey apartments to two and three storey walk ups. The complex was built to rehouse displaced public tenants after a controversial redevelopment of the Rocks during the 1960s and 70s.
Sadly, this building is no longer being used for public housing. It was sold off sometime last year; fortunately it is not being completely destroyed but “refurbished”.
I have a bit of a fascination with these buildings, where each apartment is segmented, part of a whole but also unique in its own right. It seems to have been kind of a midcentury utopian vision that straddled the line between uniformity and individuality.
I first came along the concept of when I read about Habitat 67 in Montreal. Whilst not actually related to the Japanese metabolist architectural movement, I still think it has some similarities, providing affordable spaces in crowded city environments.
Habitat 67’s interlocking forms, connected walkways and landscaped terraces were key in achieving Safdie’s goal of a private and natural environment within the limits of a dense urban space.
Nakagin capsule tower
I read about the Nakagin capsule tower in a now-defunct tourist guide app called Townske, when I was finding things to do and see around Japan for my 2016 trip, and I quickly decided it was a must-see. It’s one of the few remaining examples of the aforementioned Japanese Metabolism movement. This one was designed far less with space in mind per apartment – the target demographic were bachelor Tokyo salarymen with fairly basic needs.
Amusingly it’s in the now-extremely pricey Ginza area of Tokyo. It was weird and a bit sad to see in the flesh – very few people seemed to think much of it.