Dub Housing was the name of the 1978 Album by Pere Ubu - an American, experimental post-punk band. They devised the title when viewing the Le Corbusier inflected architecture of public housing in Baltimore. Many of these designs feature rows of brutalist towers, possessing many parallel windows - what the band referred to as a "visual echo" akin to the use of delay and reverb effects in Jamaican dub music. In many ways, through policy and media, public housing tenants are often absurdly constructed as akin to quantified ghosts (or coded-out entirely) without identity or agency - entirely bypassing the lateral, cultural terrains of working and underclass life. I have seen the stigma this causes - particularly towards members of my own family when they we had to deal with Housing NSW.
The 'Sirius' building (The Rocks) whilst more influenced by the 'Metabolist' Japanese style design, still conforms to a similar architectural premise of the construction of social space. Established in the late 70s to provide public housing for working class residents during the redevelopment of the Rocks and Millers Points during the 'Green Bans' period.
The photographs in this panel and the next were taken in the period after the building was vacated via the eviction of all residents - many of them elderly and vulnerable - so that the State Government could sell the land to opportunistic developers. Many public interest groups such as SOS (Save our Sirius) worked hard to prevent this, but were overridden in favour of privatisation and hyper-development - a recurring theme regarding Sydney's state-owned buildings and public housing. In 2018, the last resident, 90 year old, Myra Demetriou departed Sirius.
The great loss of Sirius is not its aesthetic, or architectural value, but the community and cultural way of life that the building and residents housed and nurtured...those fragile, yet ongoing living-histories.
Houso-Dub (panels 1 & 2)
James Hazel (2020)
Text, phone photographs of Sirius Building, poster design
the road was yellowing... there were some young professionals at the colonially-named pub in the Rocks drinking craft and well-supported beer...
the Sirius building stood there & i just below from it. all the lights were off (bar one at the top), and there were little papers in each
apartment square, with different little numbers
i saw a flower bulb drying out in the moon light
(in a cracked plastic flower box)
the last of which to see the ocean, cityscape, and harbour, and those purpled vistas on their own terms...
and i felt really sad for all of the evicted magnificent "housos" - as you would like to call them (but fail to box them as such)