Killing Sydney by Elizabeth Farrelly [6/10]

Architecture is one of those professions that fascinate but confuse me. I love cities and can haltingly express what I enjoy about this or that aspect of this or that city, but constructing a coherent vision of what might be “good” or “bad” architecture escapes me. Reading architects talking about their purviews mostly bewilders me. Not so Elizabeth Farrelly, Sydney columnist, architecture critic, and activist. Her “Killing Sydney: The Fight for a City’s Soul” is a refreshing, boisterous survey of the city she loves through the eyes of an architect, employing in different chapters varying lenses with which to examine older history but in particular what she considers (and I have to agree) a recent history of despoilment, greed, corruption, and mendacity. Farrelly writes exhilarating prose and her knowledge of the magic of Sydney’s location and varied suburbs and buildings is staggering. Her takedown of the recent massive developments that I’ve observed when travelling to my son’s house in Marrickville is eye-opening. If I am barely wiser in my own architectural acuity after finishing Killing Sydney, I am much richer for the read. Recommended for any Sydneysider, Australian (other Australian cities, I’m sure, face the same vicious environment), or fan of beautiful architecture.

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