Sydney Open 2015

For Sydney Open, the city’s best buildings throw open their doors, just for one day…


Architecture fans, rub your hands together in glee. The annual Sydney Open offers you an access-all-areas pass to the city this Sunday 1 November. More than 50 of Sydney’s most inspiring spaces will unlock their doors for 2015's event, with cutting-edge architecture, heritage edifices and art on display, as well as secret spots normally off limits to all but employees and bike couriers. Descend to disused station platforms, tunnels and crypts, ascend via glass lifts, galleries and roof terraces, or just swing by the quirky Sydney Masonic Centre to discover a hidden universe.

With Sydney Open's buildings list ranging from the CBD to The Rocks, Darlinghurst, Ultimo and Chippendale, it pays to plan your day. Buy a City Pass ticket online, pick up your wristband from one of three central venues, download the mobile app or map, and get ready to share your finds on social media (#SydneyIsOpen @SydLivMus). Adult tickets cost $49, or pay $99 for host Sydney Living Museums' membership deal for priority entry and extra benefits.

Also look out for free talks and tours at some buildings, and queues at others (the app and Twitter feed will tell you where to expect them). Opening hours are 10am to 4pm at most locations, but check the website for specifics. You can also enjoy special offers at Sydney Living Museums' three foodie outlets: The Governors Table, Bistro Mint and Hyde Park Barracks Café. But to feast on inspiration, here are our architectural must-sees…

ABOVE: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in The Rocks; looking down into the lobby of Deutsche Bank Place, CBD; the New Hall (Sydney Grammar School Assembly Hall) in Darlinghurst
BELOW: Reserve Bank of Australia Building foyer; Shakespeare Room, State Library of NSW; the Atrium inside 50 Martin Place, all CBD sites

CBD – contemporary meets heritage
Boasting 35 of Sydney Open's sites, the CBD is a dynamic tapestry of the old and new, from colonial sandstone to sheer 21st-century surfaces. Enjoy a sticky beak into the cathedrals of finance (from the Reserve Bank of Australia to Deutsche Bank Place) and religion (St Mary's Cathedral) here, as well as cultural icons such as the State Library of NSW. Fans of modern architecture should check out 50-storey Australia Square by seminal architect Harry Seidler, and his Grosvenor Place. To see a contemporary architecture practice, visit BVN.

Chippendale – creative quarter
Chippendale and neighbouring Ultimo form a new precinct for Sydney Open 2015. Peppered with independent art galleries and new-wave architecture, 'Chippo' is fast transforming into one of the city's most creative quarters. Don't miss newly launched boutique stay The Old Clare Hotel, revamped from heritage pub The Clare Hotel and a former Carlton & United Breweries administration building by Singaporean whizz Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Collection and local architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer. It's set on Kensington Street, where old workers' cottages are being reimagined as cafés and niche shops, backed by hidden hawker centre Spice Alley. Nearby Central Park Sydney is home to The Steps, design-led student accommodation by a team including Foster+Partners. For more morbid thrills, explore the Mortuary Station, an ornate Gothic Revival building once used by trains transporting the dead.

ABOVE: The Clare Bar inside The Old Clare Hotel; sandstone terrace on Kensington Street; The Steps Central Park, all Chippendale hot spots
BELOW: Ultimo's UTS Building 7, internal stairs, by Durbach Block Jaggers; interior of Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, UTS, by Frank Gehry; Denton Corker Marshall's green LED-lit UTS Building 11, exterior; UTS Building 7, exterior, featuring undulating colour and eco design

Ultimo – university smarts
The University of Sydney's Camperdown campus may win props for its pretty Oxbridge looks, but its upstart neighbour the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) is bagging kudos for commissioning contemporary architecture. For the Open, you can check out four of its buildings, from Frank Gehry's bricktastic Dr Chau Chak Wing Building for UTS Business School to Melbourne firm Denton Corker Marshall's green LED-lit, sheeny-skinned UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT Building. The Brutalist 1979 UTS Tower is rightly famous; perhaps less well known is the undulating UTS Faculty of Science and Graduate School of Health Building, by Sydney firm Durbach Block Jaggers in association with BVN Architecture. Inspired by a ripple in a grove of trees, its exterior draws on recycled glass, window boxes and refreshing colour with a bold concrete staircase making waves inside. Oh, to be a student again...

BELOW: Denton Corker Marshall's UTS Building 11 interior, puts the vertigo into Ultimo

Sydney Open takes place on Sunday 1 November 2015 at venues across town

Photo credits, from top: Brett Boardman, Deutsche Bank Place, Paul Eichorn, Reserve Bank of Australia, State Library of NSW, Haley Richardson, The Old Clare Hotel, Simon Wood courtesy of Frasers Property & Sekisui House, David Clare, Anthony Browell, Andrew Worssam, Darren Bradley, Andrew Worssam.