Monorail House

For fifteen years the Sydney monorail was an under-appreciated piece of the urban landscape. Not as noticeable or iconic as say the Opera House or Harbour Bridge, but still an appreciated piece of landscape like the mountains in Switzerland or sand dunes in Morocco.

The monorail was never talked about it as a key feature, and it may not have been super-practical to get to work or meetings, but as a kid or a tourist it was still a really cool way to see Sydney’s CBD. Elevated at a minimum of six metres off the ground and a maximum of much more, it connected only eight stations across a 3.2km loop. Generally you’d get on it and ride around the city until you felt you’d gotten your tickets worth, often departing at the same platform you alighted on.

The ‘above’ view of the city given while journeying over buses, traffic and water was a brilliant experience.

Mid-2013 the monorail was shut down and dismantled. Track parts were donated to Hobart to reuse, carriages sold to Google for meeting rooms, and Asian investment companies snapped up bits of memorabilia at ridiculous prices. What was left was the retro-futuristic stations, with their curved architecture overlooking some of the city’s most iconic spots, left as a testament to childhood joy for many.

I must’ve walked past these stations hundreds of time since their closure, but only a couple of weeks ago did I snap a photo of the open interior of the Pyrmont station, left as it was on the day they closed it.
Almost instantly I was made aware of the wonderful Monorail House project. Currently 15 months deep in to campaigning and planning, the project seeks to gain control of the unused Paddy’s Markets station, and turn it in to a split level two-bedroom home.

Helen O’Boyle is the “monorail nut” behind the project, and has even finalised all logistics to moving the mammoth construction. It’s a worthy task that hasn’t been easy for O’Boyle, who’s even garnered support from Grand Designs Australia and Fremantle Media.

Unfortunately, the government and the bastards at Lend Lease (the people behind the fugly Barangaroo – can’t wait till Barry O’Farrell gets pinned for that one) have put this in the ‘too hard’ bucket. Apparently their “20% recycling quota” is already reached, meaning they no longer feel a need to repurpose any of their destruction debris.

For me this partially about corporate responsibility but mainly about architectural preservation. To think that these buildings will no longer exist anywhere is a saddening thought which turns sickening when you look at the crap that will appear in their space. The monorail stations had a unique presence, that no doubt inspired more than a handful of the city’s residents, leaving lasting impressions on many.

We hope that Helen O’Boyle is successful in preserving at least one station as a house. It’ll be something generations to come will thank us for, if only we can get the government and evil corporations to put a little thought in to it.

If you can help Helen we encourage you to. See what else is needed and catch-up on all the details here: