Modern Movement architecture produced some of the 20th century’s most important architecture, including styles known as modern, brutalist and Sydney school, the Heritage Council of NSW said.
A heritage study, commissioned by the council, has recommended nine sites for heritage listing on Sydney’s local environment plan.
The listing would ensure any future development took the building’s heritage into account as part of the application process, in a bid to retain significant building features and maintain its character.
Councillors called for the study “in response to increasing development pressure on central Sydney’s post-war architecture of potential heritage significance”, the report said.
Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said the Modern Movement era was an important chapter in the city’s architectural history and should be preserved.
“Sydney is home to many rare examples of post-war modern architecture, built while the city was experiencing major change in the decades after World War II.
“Architects of the Modern Movement were reformers, responding to the social, political and economic upheaval caused by industrialisation and world wars and this architecture reflects a key moment in Sydney’s history.”
Cr Moore said many buildings from that period had “sadly been demolished or modified beyond recognition”.
“It is essential we preserve these important contributions to our city’s architecture for future generations.”
Only five Sydney buildings erected in the post-war period between 1945 and 1975 had been listed on state, national or world heritage lists, she said.
That included the Opera House, which gained world heritage status in 2007.
The Central Sydney Planning Committee, made up of representatives from the state government and City of Sydney, will consider the proposal at a meeting next month.
If approved, the plan will be weighed by the Greater Sydney Commission and put on public exhibition.
The director of heritage conservation in the faculty of architecture, design and planning at the University of Sydney, Cameron Logan, said while some people viewed modernist architecture as “an attack on the civic decorum of the city” or “just plain ugly”, it had gained greater acceptance.
“I think what is fundamentally important, and has often been missed, is that many buildings of this period had a strong civic intent and presence, and Town Hall House is an excellent example.
“We need to reimagine or redefine our past in terms of citymaking, it can’t be a dead letter, fixed idea.”