Sydney travel blog day 2

Monday 16 January 2023

Photowalking at UNSW

After yesterday’s wander around the University of NSW campus, I was looking forward to getting back there this morning and taking photos. I had about an hour and half to explore at first light, which wasn’t the greatest for some of the buildings as they were unevenly lit in places.

UNSW was founded in 1949, so its campus is about the same age as the Utas Sandy Bay campus, though I believe none of the 1940s Utas buildings survived.

It was originally known as NSW University of Technology. UNSW archives tell me that when the university was founded, classes were held at the Sydney Technical College buildings in Ultimo. The administration moved to the Kensington site in 1952 and some teaching commenced there in 1953, but it continued at Ultimo until the late 1960s. From what I’ve read, it sounds like a lot of the early buildings have now been replaced, and the campus has been expanded considerably.

An angled three and four story brick building with a UNSW tower in the background
UNSW Chancellery

This morning I went back to the buildings I’d taken phone photos of yesterday, before I went to meet Kramstable and Slabs for breakfast.

An orange brick wall with a large section of white breezeblocks
School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications

A break for NIDA

Today was the first day of Kramstable’s NIDA course. This was a big week of courses at NIDA, with classes covering Kinder to Year 12. Because Kramstable was in a Year 11/12 class, they didn’t need him to be signed in and out each day but they did want him to be dropped off and picked up.

the NIDA complex, a large glass-fronted building with small silos on the roof, next to a tram line
NIDA entry on Anzac Parade, Kensington

I went in with him the first morning (keeping an appropriate distance so he wouldn’t be seen with his mother) and sat in on the introduction session where the staff outlined how the week would work and introduced the teachers. That was my cue to leave and I was free for the rest of the day until it was time to pick him up.

And back to the photos

I went back to UNSW (it’s across the road) to continue my photowalk.

I especially wanted to locate a building I’d seen yesterday and had identified as Squarehouse, which is home to the School of Built Environment. I think I’m a bit in love with that.

A square building called Squarehouse next to a round building called Roundhouse
Squarehouse. As opposed to Roundhouse

Except for the paint.

A small staircase with painted concrete railing leading to a deck and a brick building
Stairs leading to Squarehouse deck area

There was much concrete to admire on this campus. A lot of it had been painted over, which I’m not a fan of but it was fun to look for the hidden unpainted parts!

I was also struck by home much of a campus feel it had, not dissimilar to Utas but on a much larger scale. The UNSW Village has several towers for student accommodation and is basically a small suburb on campus. I know you can’t directly compare this uni to Hobart’s because it’s bigger, it’s in a much larger city and its geography is different, but it’s full of green spaces, walkways, hiding places and is fairly quiet, all of which seems conducive to good mental health and good study. I don’t see how Utas’s plans to getting rid of a space similar to this for a move into disconnected city buildings stack up.

But I wasn’t there to think about Utas. It just came to mind as I was wandering round.

Most of the rest of the day I spent either at UNSW or back in the hotel room (because it was hot, and heat and me don’t mix).

Finding brutalism

I went back to the uni on the way to pick Kramstable up as I’d consulted the Sydney Brutalist map  and discovered two USW buildings were on there.

One, the Sir John Clancy Auditorium, I’d actually already seen but it’s been substantially altered (and painted) which is probably why I hadn’t noticed it.

A theatre building with a large glass front and UNSW on the glass
Sir John Clancy Auditorium

The other, Goldstein Hall, also looks to have had all the concrete painted over but I can’t find any old photos to be sure.

A painted concrete and brick building with a large brown glass front shaded by trees
Goldstein Hall

I’m sure they had their reasons.

Back to NIDA

As I was wandering, I stumbled on the Fig Tree Theatre, which was within the UNSW Village. It’s one of the older buildings on the campus, built in 1948, and was used by NIDA between 1963 and 1987.

An angled three and four story brick building with a UNSW tower in the background
Fig Tree Theatre

I thought that was a cool thing to find, since Kramstable is at NIDA this week. It’s currently used as a performance space for the university and the wider community.

Kramstable seemed to have enjoyed his day, as had I, and we had dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant to end the day.

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