Conference paper

Architecture and national identity in an era of globalisation

The rise and fall of the Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour
Buildings Architecture Sydney
Attachment Size
apo-nid213136.pdf 763.36 KB

The Sydney Exhibition Centre by Philip Cox was conceived as an iconic building and recognised by the Sulman Award for its innovative steel technology, logical response to function and distinctive roofscape. It was one of a number of buildings constructed at Darling Harbour for Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988, intended to showcase the best in Australian architecture and symbolise Sydney’s cultural identity. Darling Harbour’s redevelopment from a disused shipping yard is an example of an urban environment constructed around the creation and representation of iconic forms, to be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. This paper examines the iconic status of the Sydney Exhibition Centre through a brief review of the literature published at the time of its design. Using the framework established by Robert Adam in The Globalisation of Modern Architecture (2012), it interrogates the interrelationships between iconicity, identity politics and the complexity of the global condition that provide the context for the building’s demolition in 2014. Also considered is the role played by the Transnational Capitalist Class, which has been defined by Leslie Sklair (2005, 2006) and identified as crucial to the lifecycle of iconic architecture. The circumstances of the Sydney Exhibition Centre’s demise demonstrate the fragility of iconicity and the fluidity of symbolic expression, and provide insights into the remaking of built environments and heritage values.

Publication Details
Source title:
Proceedings of the 13th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2016


Access Rights Type: