by Ian Stephenson, President, Bulletin 4/2022, June 2022

The delightful courtyard and fountain at 17-31 Cowper St reduced to rubble (right) (photos: Ian Stephenson)










During the last two weeks, 17-31 Cowper St has been demolished. Its delightful courtyard and fountain are gone forever. This beautifully designed low-rise infill building which respected the scale of the St Phillip’s estate and provided private and public open space for its residents has been pulverised.

As well as being bad for conservation and bad for residential amenity, it’s bad for the environment. English research notes that ‘the materials, transportation and construction processes for new buildings are all carbon-intensive. For example, cement accounts for an estimated 8% of global CO₂ emissions. Existing buildings already embody significant CO₂ emissions, making it all the more important to upgrade and refurbish – rather than demolish and rebuild.’1

Calculations suggest it will be decades before some new buildings pay back their carbon debt by saving more emissions than they created – and these are decades when carbon must be sharply reduced.2

It’s about time the NSW Land and Housing Corporation got with it.

Footnotes: 1. Walter Menteth in The Conversation, October 26, 2019; 2. Roger Harrabin, BBC, 5 August 2020

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