Sydney has long been a city of spirited economy and inspired growth. As the city’s skyline can demonstrate, there are always new, dazzling projects underway. Ranging from glitzy to practical, these architectural amendments will no doubt change the face of our sand-stone city.

Frank Gehry’s much-awaited UTS building is but one example of a game-changing design that will no doubt generate architectural interest in the city over the next few decades. As the central area and city centre is in a constant state of redevelopment, it will be interesting to see which buildings stand the test of time and which will be rendered distant memories in photographs.

With changes as dramatic as these underway, our appreciation of those older buildings (once thought to be an essential feature of our city) is also subject to change. Buildings such as those at Central Station or near the Rocks are historical and of an intrinsically social value. Those protected under the Heritage laws are guaranteed survival, but a ‘heritage approach’ demands that the denizens of our city take stock of those grand and eloquent buildings that might not attract protection. But the principle also attracts architects.

Contemporary architects, such as Paul Rappoport of Rappoport Heritage Consultants I, are dedicated to the idea of restoring what were once our cities crowning glories and maintaining a balance between the old world and the new. ‘To a certain degree we are cultural saviours of a resource. Heritage is all about history, it’s about preserving the past, it’s about communicating the values of heritage to present generations and future generations because it tells us stories.’

Mr. Rappoport wisely suggests that the future of Sydney’s best-loved buildings might be saved by restoration and re-use for financial reasons. ‘The beauty about heritage is that you can adapt, it’s called “adaptive re-use”. We must always look for ways of adapting heritage buildings, because if we don’t they become relics, untouchable and useless.’

But the very survival of heritage as a pursuit relies upon our interest in our city’s structures. ‘Will heritage as a cultural pursuit survive into the next fifty or hundred years? That’s the big question.’ Let’s hope that as a culture, we manage to hold onto those precious symbols of the past and re-cast them as necessities for the future.

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