Sydney’s architecture is world class and ever changing. Some of its buildings are synonymous with the city, such as the Sydney Opera House. But there are many more that are worth a look, either when you are in the area or during the annual Open House weekend. Here are a few that we like.

Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

This building is located on the UTS campus in Ultimo, and was designed by star architect Frank Gehry, who is famed for his show-stopping creations around the globe. Designed to house the university’s business school, the award-winning creation has a five-star energy rating. It was also deemed “the world’s most beautiful squashed paper bag” by Governor General Peter Cosgrove. Created from more than 300,000 hand-laid bricks, its construction was so complex that seasoned brickies came out of retirement to work on it.

Architecture fans can visit the public areas of the building on weekdays from 8am to 10pm and on weekends from 8am to 6pm.

UTS Business School, 14-28 Ultimo Road, Ultimo 2007

City of Sydney Fire Station

This station has been open continuously since 1887 and is a rare example of Victorian free classical architecture. Although the horses are long since retired, as is the 20-metre watchtower that was once occupied by junior firefighters, it’s still a working station. Architect James Barnet designed the building, basing it on the look and feel of London’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade stations.

The station holds open days and also welcomes people for Open House – keep an eye on their Facebook page for details.

213 Castlereagh Street, Sydney 2000

State Library of NSW

Sydney’s state library is the oldest in Australia. The library opened in 1826 as a subscription service for newly arrivals desperate to read books. It’s now a world-class facility for researchers and book lovers alike. What is interesting about this building is that it was built in stages as money became available and new wings were added. Work continues to this day, with refurbishments planned to modernise the public areas.

A highlight is the Mitchell Building, which has been restored so that the public can enjoy its heritage-rich rooms. And on Tuesdays you can visit the Shakespeare Room, with its hand-carved Tudor motifs on the walls and ornate ceiling modelled on one at Hampton Court in London. With cafes, a shop, tours, author talks and exhibitions, it’s easy to lose a day here. Visit the State Library’s comprehensive website for upcoming events.

580 George Street, Sydney 2000

The Primus Hotel

The Primus Hotel on Pitt Street is a wonderful Art Deco gem that was refurbished in 2015 and transformed into a heritage-listed five-star hotel – quite a change from its former role as the headquarters of the Sydney Metropolitan Water Board.

Australian architecture firm Woods Bagot completed a sensitive renovation. They retained many of the structure’s original features while bringing it firmly into the present. You don’t need to book a room to enjoy this wonderful space. Simply wander through the lobby, with its stunning eight-metre-high red stucco columns and stop at the Lobby Bar for high tea or a cocktail. You can also dine at the Wilmot, or take in the views at Level Seven, the chic rooftop bar.

339 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000

Susannah Place Museum

These four homes allow you to time travel back to the Rocks at the very beginning of European settlement. They are typical working class houses, built by Irish immigrants in 1844. The last residents of these homes moved out in 1990, and some were able to help with recreating their homes to appear as they did when they lived in them, using photos and original belongings.

They have been restored and open to the public since 2006. With their tiny kitchens, outhouses, remnants of wallpaper and furnished interiors, they provide a fascinating glimpse into life at the Rocks almost 200 years ago. Check the website for visiting times.

58–64 Gloucester Street, The Rocks, Sydney, 2000

Discover more beautiful Sydney buildings

Sydney has some wonderful buildings old and new, and the annual Sydney Open allows you to look inside them. This year’s event will take place over the weekend of 2-3 November. Keep an eye on the website or sign up to their mailing list for this architectural highlight. And please comment below with your tips for Sydney buildings which are worth a visit.

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