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 iconic style sydney

Infographic: Architecture in Sydney

January 24, 2019 10:00 am by Upside

As Australia’s oldest city, Sydney’s architectural profile embodies over 200 years of history. From restrained Georgian structures harking back to the city’s colonial beginnings, to an expansive cityscape of contemporary high rises and skyscrapers, Sydney’s architecture is a unique juxtaposition of old and new.

Aside from the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney is home to a cornucopia of architectural feats stretching from the CBD to the streets and laneways of the city’s outskirts. Here, we take a look at just a handful of the most famous buildings in Sydney.


Not long after the First Fleet established a colony in 1788, Sydney’s architectural profile began to take shape. In those days, significant buildings were of such poor workmanship and materials, that they needed constant maintenance. Remaining early notable buildings, such as Old Government House in Parramatta and the Elizabeth Farm homestead, are protected as a result of their historical significance.

Population growth and a booming economy from the 1840s to the 1880s saw a large number of neo-Gothic and Victorian-style commercial buildings and residential housing being built around the city. During this time, the verandah started to be used as sunshade, and solid sandstone walls were used to stabilise cold and hot temperature extremes.

The Great Depression and World War II caused a housing shortage in Sydney and around Australia. As a result, architects brought a simplicity to design and construction and a renewed interest in logical structure and free planning. Designs typically no longer featured ornamentation, ceilings were lower, and rooms were designed to be multi-purpose.

Today, Sydney’s architecture comprises a mix of elaborate styles imported from Britain, as well as functional and even experimental structures of the 20th and 21st century. So, whether you have a soft spot for old-world charm or cutting-edge modernity, there’s plenty to explore throughout the city.


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