- SAW 1 -
The City: Sydney
- walking tour -
Moving from the broad to the particular, the historic to the contemporary, SAW 1 conjures a heady urban narrative revealing the social, cultural and topographic forces shaping Sydney. We will concentrate on three contemporary iconic structures; Aurora Place, 1 Bligh Street and Governor Phillip and Macquarie Towers and the ideas of four architects; Renzo Piano, Richard Johnson, Christoph Ingenhoven & Joern Utzon.
Renzo Piano is a virtuoso in the world of architecture and someone deeply imbued with a craftsman's sense of materials. The Aurora Place office and apartment buildings were his first Australian and his first high-rise structures.
Our study of these remarkable buildings works on many levels. We will explain Piano's environmental and social agenda, the irony of using a suburban–inspired material palette in the most corporate of environments, and the ways in which his apartment building does at a large scale what Aussie icon Glenn Murcutt does at a small scale in terms of specific environmental response. You will also discover the many subtle and intriguing ways in which Piano establishes a dialogue with the grand old lady down the road; his soaring ghostly–white facades playing mainsail to Utzon's billowing spinnakers.
The black-suited Melbourne firm Denton Corker Marshall's tall, dark and handsome Governor Phillip Tower + Museum of Sydney will be explored, the ideas and concepts behind the buildings discussed. The building was designed by Richard Johnson who worked with Jørn Utzon the ten years prior to his death on Opera House modifications. [see SAW2] The fruit of this collaboration is ongoing, both in Richard's work and at the Opera House itself.
We will also take a visit to 1 Bligh Street, one of Australia's cleverest and greenest projects and the work of German architect Christoph Ingenhoven with Architectus.
COST > $45 / $35 (full-time student concession)
DURATION > 2 hours
GROUP SIZE > 15 people maximum
WHEN > See Dates for timetable + booking info
MEET > Foyer, Museum of Sydney (MoS), cnr Bridge & Phillip St, Sydney (one block South of Circular Quay Station). For transport options to Circular Quay telephone 131 500 or here.

- SAW 2 -
Utzon & the Sydney Opera House
- walking tour -
Both an in-depth and textured portrait of enigmatic Danish architect Jørn Utzon, as well as the story of perhaps the 2oth Centuries most ambitious architectural project, UTZON draws the listener into the amazing visionary world of the architect of Sydney Opera House.
His work was beautiful yet transcended the purely aesthetic. He worked hard yet projected the image of a balanced life. He proclaimed himself a builder more than an architect and prior to his groundbreaking competition entry in 1957 had only a few small houses to his name.
Discussing the sources of the young Dane's deepest inspiration, his working methods and influences, we chart the development of Utzon's ideas and their materialisation in the platform, concrete shells and ceramic skin of Sydney Opera House. You will discover the influence of towering 20th Century figures like Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and even Picasso on Utzon's thinking, his interest in the methods of Gaudi and you will discover the ways in which his work was at once contemporary whilst drawing its inspiration from the work of the ancients.
Booted out in by the despicable Askin Government in 66, Utzon considered the six years he spent developing the interiors of the House the most productive of his career. Using discarded drawings, models and prototypes, Utzon's unrealised design of the acoustic interiors, glass walls and furniture, much of it ready for construction before he left in April 1966 will be discussed and you can judge for yourself how much Sydney lost when he was forced to leave the building half-finished.
The tour finishes with the recent works, a decade-long collaboration between Utzon, his architect son Jan and Sydney architect Richard Johnson.
COST > $45 / $35 (full-time student concession)
DURATION > 3 hours (includes 20 minute coffee break)
GROUP SIZE > 15 people maximum
See Dates for timetable + booking info
MEET > Foyer, Museum of Sydney (MoS), cnr Bridge & Phillip St, Sydney (one block South of Circular Quay Station). For transport options to Circular Quay telephone 131 500 or here.
- SAW 3 -
- walking tour -
Join us on this stroll around Sydney's spectacular harbour edge, from Circular Quay, through the city's great depository of memory, The Rocks, up Observatory Hill and on to Walsh Bay.
The route is diverse, spectacular and full of surprising recent projects as well as gritty historical reminders of the cities industrial/maritime past.
Getting beyond the post–card view of the city and its two shimmering icons, SAW 3 reveals the city at her rawest and most spectacular, her most self–conscious and most corrupt. Beginning with Circular Quay, where the powerful forces of commerce are held back from the harbour by that bland concrete motorway – the Cahill Expressway – we will discuss Utzon's vision for the Quay, controversial plans for the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Toaster and explore the beautiful ferry terminal conversion by Queensland duo Lindsay + Kerry Clare. The radical Sirius Apartment building by Tao Gofers and Lippmann Associates' KGV Sports Hall will also be discussed.
SAW 3 focuses on the breathtaking early 20th Century Walsh Bay Finger Wharves, a family of timber wharves and shore sheds that extend out into Sydney's harbour. They are the largest timber structures in the world, romantic symbols of Sydney's maritime history and the first structures in Australia to be nominated as a World Heritage Site! Over the last few years the wharves and shore sheds have been reworked into a modern residential + cultural precinct by Bates Smart and HPA with the help of renowned French architect Phillipe Robert. We will move through this incredible development and discuss the ideas and issues behind their re–development.
SAW 3 concludes at Walsh Bay at 12.30pm. Please allow a 10–15 minute walk back to Circular Quay.
COST > $45 / $35 (full-time student concession)
2 hours
GROUP SIZE > 15 people maximum
WHEN > See Dates for timetable + booking info
MEET > Foyer, Museum of Sydney (MoS), cnr Bridge & Phillip St, Sydney (one block South of Circular Quay Station). For transport options to Circular Quay telephone 131 500 or here.
walsh bay 1
walsh bay 2
- SAW 4 -
Art, Place & Landscape
- walking tour -

SAW4 examines the city through its evolving attitude to the design of it's public domain, and the elements that they contain; art, architecture and landscape.
For the Eora people, the trees were an embracing home. For Europeans these same trees were full of mystery, shadows and darkness. Starting in the modern forest of concrete, skyscrapers and hard paved surfaces at Edge of Trees by Janet Laurence and Fiona Foley, we walk outwards to the green harbour wedge, through the Domain to the waters edge of Woolloomooloo Bay. The translucent Veil of Trees by Janet Laurence and Jisuk Han is the bookend.

We will map a living history on contemporary architectural, sculptural and urban projects, considering the role of art, architecture and design in the creation of some of Sydney's best loved and most used public spaces. Particular attention will be paid to projects by Lin Utzon, Brett Whiteley, Janet Laurence, Hossein Valamanesh, Lippmann Associates, Simeon Nelson, City Projects, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, Harry Seidler, Tom Bass & Hassell Architects. We will also look at the new Art Gallery of NSW Asian Galleries extension by Johnson Pilton Walker.

SAW 4 concludes at the Andrew 'Boy' Charlton Pool on Mrs Macquaries Road, the Domain so bring your swimmers. Please allow 20 mins return walk to either St James, Martin Place or Circular Quay train stations. Pool entry is $5 for adults, and the pool is open until 8pm (October–April).
abc pool
lawrence veil
- SAW 5 -
Modern Sydney
- walking tour -

Guided by the spirit of interwar modernity, we will trace a lazy path through the guts of Sydney from Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Urban and architectural ideas that were originally imported from Europe or North America will be traced, the influence of distance, culture and technology as well as the local political, cultural and physical landscape discussed as well as the influence of modernity on the modern city.
COST > $45 / $35 (students)
DURATION > 2 hours
GROUP SIZE > 15 people maximum
WHEN > See Dates For timetable + booking info.
Anzac Memorial (northern steps), Hyde Park, Sydney.
Nearest station is Museum Station. For transport options telephone 131 500 or here
- SAW Bikes -
Five Suburb Sydney Dérive
- cycling tour -
Over five hours we will explore Sydney's frayed western edge, its rapidly changing inner city suburbs whilst sniffing out some of its most inspiring and surprising architectural gems. A real insiders tours with a two-wheeled twist.
WHEN > See Dates FOr timetable + booking info

- Custom Tours -

If you have a special request, particular interest or certain arrangments you need met email us for a custom tour: info@sydneyarchitecture.org
SAW guides are enthusiastic and extremely well informed. They are snappy dressers and they have degrees in architecture. They are also very keen to show off their city.
Our clients include many professional bodies, universities and schools including the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), Tourism NSW, Art Quest, BASF, Stockland Property Trust, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Study Australia, Institut für Gestaltung, Montana State University, Savannah College of Arts, College of Fine Arts NSW, Cranbrook, SCECGS, St Ursula College, Mt St Joseph’s and St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox College.
All tours are available in English. Some tours are also available in Mandarin, Dutch or German.
See Newspaper Reviews for feedback in the national and international press.
The City: Sydney
Utzon & the Sydney Opera House
Art, Place & Landscape
Modern Sydney
SAW Bikes Five-Suburb Sydney Dérive: Bike Tour

Custom Tours

Sydney Architecture Walks
Urban-tours for aesthetes, city- lovers and locals who love familiar terrain from a different point of view.