Australia has some truly awe-inspiring pieces of architectural magnificence. Whether your taste runs towards Victorian-style buildings, with their intricate details, painstaking workmanship and attention to detail, or towards more contemporary designs, with their clean lines, abstract designs and minimalist styles, Australia has something to offer for everyone.
We asked Melbourne-based architects, DX Architects, for their take on some of the finest, most iconic buildings throughout Australia.
1. Sydney Opera House
Let’s start the list with the most recognisable Australian architectural icon—the Sydney Opera House. It is, without a doubt, Australia’s most famous landmark. In 1956, an international competition was held for a chance to design an opera house for Sydney. From over 200 entries, Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect was picked as the winner. Work began in 1964, and the Sydney Opera House was ready for opening in 1973.
It is estimated that around eight million people visit the opera house annually. With its futuristic design and great location, the Sydney opera house is one of the most famous buildings in the world and continues to inspire architects. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or a layman with little to no knowledge of architecture, the Sydney Opera House will impress you either way.
2. Port Arthur
If you want to look at a piece of Australian history, then Port Arthur is the site for you. This World Heritage site served as a penal colony from 1833 to 1853. It was used to hold some of the most dangerous criminals and was touted to be a prison that was impossible to escape. A visit to the site will take you back in time, to a time when the British penal system was moving from physical punishment to more psychological punishments to encourage good behaviour amongst the convicts.
The site has been conserved, and measures were taken over the years to preserve this iconic landmark. The Port Arthur Penal colony holds a lot of historical significance and is one of the most well preserved penal colonies in Australia. It is also the most famous tourist attraction in Tasmania.
3. Q1 Tower
The Q1 tower is a skyscraper located on Gold coast, Queensland. It is the tallest building in Australia, with a height of 322 meters and boasts of seventy-eight floors. Designed by the SDG & The Buchan Group, it is said that the Q1 tower’s design was influenced by the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch as well as the Sydney Opera House. It won silver in the 2005 Emporis Skyscraper Award ( the Turning Torso won the gold in Sweden). The design is said to reflect the movement of, represented by a series of aluminium ribbons that wrap around the tower.
4. Cape Byron Lighthouse
When you think of Australia, one of the first things that come to mind are its beautiful beaches. Australia is known as a surfer’s paradise, and rightly so, what with its many sunny beaches. Byron Bay is one such beautiful surfer’s destination.
Standing on the rocky land, the Cape Byron Lighthouse is one of the last Victorian era lighthouses that remain standing. It is worth noting that Cape Byron Lighthouse is Australia’s most powerful lighthouse.
5. Parliament House
Another piece of iconic architecture is the Australian Parliament House, located in Canberra. The structural design is reflective of the native Australian heritage, in the shape of two boomerangs. Being open to the public, the parliament building attracts over one million visitors every year.
6. Australia Square
Quite contrary to its name, the Australia Square is a building with a circular form and modern architectural design. It was designed by Harry Seidler, a world-renowned Australian architect. The building has a large public open space on ground level, narrow tapered columns on the outside that adds emphasis to its tall structure, and world-class artwork. No wonder then, that Australia Square remains to be one of the most iconic buildings in Sydney and has set the standard for excellence when it comes to commercial buildings.
7. Shine Dome
Apart from the Parliament House, Canberra has another architectural wonder to boast of—the shining dome. Designed by the famous architect Sir Roy Grounds for the Australian Academy of Science, the Shine Dome’s design was supposed to reflect the nature of science: innovative, inquisitive and forever in pursuit of answers. The Shine Dome was the first building in Canberra to be added to the National Heritage List, as a result of both its architectural and historical significance. When it was built in 1959, the dome was a piece of modern architecture with a futuristic look and feel to it. It still manages to inspire architects and holds a place of importance as one of Australia’s most iconic buildings.
8. Sidney Myers Music Bowl
Although not a building, strictly speaking, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl is an outdoor venue that holds a lot of architectural, technological and cultural significance. Listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl opened in 1959. It was designed by Yuncken Freeman and Griffiths and Simpson, and the architect was Barry Patten. With its complicated design structure, built using cobwebbed steel cables and weather-proof plywood, construction required consultation with organisations such as the CSIRO Forest Products Division and the Aeronautical Research Laboratories. The shell has been designed to be acoustically favourable. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl has been the venue for the performance by some artists, bands and entertainers over the years.
With its pristine beaches, hidden waterfalls and exotic wildlife, Australia is a haven for nature lovers. But there’s another face to this land that is just as beautiful, but humanmade. And that is Australia’s architecture. Australia has produced many world-class architects over the years, people who have been inspired by what they see around them. From the Opera House to the Shine Dome, Australia has a lot to offer by way of architectural masterpieces. You can journey through the country, marvelling at not only its natural beauty but also at its concrete pieces of modern art. Australia is one of the world’s leaders when it comes to innovative and sometimes experimental architecture.