Public Sydney: drawing the city

Public Sydney: drawing the city by Sydney architects Philip Thalis and Peter John Cantrill was a three year collaboration with Sydney Living Museums, Built Environment, UNSW and other external partners designed to raise awareness of Sydney’s historic public buildings and to place Sydney Living Museums' buildings in their wider city context.

The book celebrated public buildings, rooms and spaces of central Sydney and presented a comprehensive overview of 100 of Sydney’s most important public places in text and scaled drawings. The drawings were accompanied by historical and contemporary images and accompanied by essays from leading architects, landscape architects, historians and academics. The project was a 15 year project for the authors, drawing on years of teaching at UTS with another 200 tertiary students working on drawings for the project as well as their own architectural practices.

The book - no longer in print - was published jointly by Sydney Living Museums and the journal Content of the Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales

 Peter John Cantrill says:

National Trust 2014 heritage awards logo
Heritage Award winner 2014. The National Trust of Australia

The book [was] a collaborative effort that celebrates the rich array of public places and buildings in central Sydney.

It examines the qualities of the city’s public buildings, rooms and spaces, including the parklands and squares – how they have been created, altered and replaced over time, their magnificent physical qualities and their contribution to the public life of Sydney’s citizens.


Contributors included Alec Tzannes, Dean, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales; Peter Mould, former Government Architect of New South Wales; Lisa Murray, City of Sydney Historian; and Lawrence Nield, architect and winner of the RAIA Gold Medal in 2012. 

‘Our equivalent of Nolli’s map of Rome … It is a love-song to Sydney, not as harbour adjunct, but as a made thing, valuable in itself. It is the greatest work of public-space scholarship seen in this country.’

Elizabeth Farrelly, ‘Look backwards to future of design’, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 May 2013


David Holm ‘Public Sydney: drawing the city’ ArchitectureAU 8 April 2013  

Elizabeth Farrelly 'Tracing the foundations' Sydney Morning Herald 31 May 2013