Article | Heritage under threat: The role of activists / ArchitectureAU

ArchitectureAU Discussion | Christine Phillips and Tania Davidge 17 Jun 2021

The protection of buildings of significant value is ordinarily the task of heritage bodies, who carefully interpret planning laws and assessment criteria when evaluating places of heritage significance. However, when valuable but unprotected public buildings are suddenly under threat of demolition, redevelopment or sale, community activism can be a powerful way to effect change. Community-led activism moves nimbly and loudly and can mobilize public support, propelling the discussion about protecting our cities’ important built assets beyond the confines of formal heritage processes.

In recent years, we have seen activists fight to save buildings of significant public value. Campaigns to defend Federation Square in Melbourne, the Marion Cultural Centre in Adelaide, the Sirius building in Sydney and the Australian War Memorial’s Anzac Hall in Canberra have galvanized not only the public but also a community of architects working in concert to save them.

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