This was Sydney Council’s first affordable housing project, designed by Robert Hargreave Brodrick and built in 1914. It’s historically significant because it represents the beginning of a shift from residential terraces to apartments, a herald of the now generic residential format that as colonised the surrounding area. The total complex includes sixty seven apartments and eight shops, one of which, Brickfields, makes the best croissants in Sydney.

The building is in the Federation Arts and Crafts style, which is identifiable to my eye by mixture of contrasting building materials, including a chunky sandstone base (this looks better on a building of this size than small houses like those in Haberfield, some of which remind me of criminals with their feet in cement buckets), brick middle and stucco upper level.There are no living areas out the back but there is apparently a terraced roof with space for drying clothes (better than a dryer in the bathroom which is what they’ve given us at Waterloo!), and each apartment has a small balcony and space for a garden. The yellowy-cream and deep reddy-brown is also common to many Federation buildings and is on show again at Redfern and Erksineville Stations just up the road. Another notable feature are the curved stoops, with timber finishes common to buildings of this era.

In my experience Strickland and its surrounding area always seem to be reliably damp, shady and relatively cool. I imagine the apartments would be nice and cool in summer but would probably be too dim inside for my liking, perhaps this is revealing of the architectural preferences endemic to my era: optimal light, openness and airflow, facilitated by glass and contemporary window and door formats. The are sizeable plane trees out the front and in place of flourishing vegetable gardens as the architect might have imagined, the residents favour the maintenance free alternatives of fake grass, dirt and heaped up rubbish.

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And Brickfields in 1915 below. Very glad they’ve kept these in good order, a Brickfields croissant  is good anywhere but it’s such a nice space too.


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