Monday 8 March 2021

Temple Of Mammon


Sydney's Temple of Mammon
a.k.a. Crown Casino

There's a new landmark on our city's horizon - a veritable Temple of Mammon. We've been watching this controversial casino inch its way into the sky for a goodly while now, unsubtle as it is by its growing presence. I believe it may even hold the prize for Sydney's Tallest Building at the minute, despite solemn promises from its owner, billionaire Mr. James Packer, it should ultimately be rather more discreet.

Luring gamblers with its golden promises.

Of the controversy, it's a long and tedious story, with three-word phrases like dubious architectural merit, lucrative gambling revenues, lost public space, fitness to operate and gangster money-laundering being bandied about. Such an Australian story, Dear Reader ... 

Stormy skies gather over this beacon to controversy ...

But methinks plenty of jobs for abseiling window-washers lie ahead.

Anyhoo, it looks like it may be finished now, although Mr. Packer is yet to be granted his casino license as there's a bit of rummaging through his underwear drawer to be endured still, and the mythical Chinese High-Rollers are waiting to be jetted in on private planes as I gather our borders are verily still closed to those who are coming merely to indulge in a Hobby, as the Australian Government so quaintly describes Gambling.

Seen from afar on the far right when picnicking
Who knew a casino needed to be so, well, huge?

But now that the Temple is built, there's not much that can be said about it except it's a typical glass-fronted skyscraper that either blends into the skyline or sticks out like a shag on a rock, depending upon your vantage point around the city.

Looking just like another office tower from this angle ...

But a tad more obvious from this.

This weekend I had a closer view than normal when the trusty 325 bus took me directly past it to the newly renovated Sydney Dance Company studios, where I was returning for my Introduction to Tap Dancing in 8 Easy Lessons! It's been a full year since first dipping my toe into the same course which was so rudely interrupted by 2020, and having only had three lessons last year, it was not quite enough to be going on with for practising about the casa and, well, consideration had to be given for all the neighbours stuck at home and whatnot, so it really was like starting from scratch again on Sunday.

New Sunday morning routine starts here at the Sydney Dance Company.

Not even this home for more terrestrially-grounded Hobbies can avoid Mammon's shadow.

Hullo again! 

Image credits: Flying With Hands


  1. OMG Ms. P - you are a tap dancer!!!! How awesome, and how brave to take lessons, I feel you must be in terrific shape whereas I would have a hard time just bending to button up my tap shoes.......or tie on my ballet slippers, lol! I'd love to do both, but dreams of childhood dance lessons so long ago must suffice at this stage of life!
    Gambling, never have, never will. Rather an ugly building, but then it seem every large city seems to put up a similar one.
    Have a wonderful week.
    Mary -

  2. Dear Pip - like Mary I attended ballet classes, but secretly I longed to join the tap dancers. They wore gorgeous scarlet red leather shoes tied up with luscious red satin bows, and made a wonderful sound as they danced their way down the corridors. However, my mother would not allow - so it was pink shoes and ballet lessons only for me.
    I hate those modern city buildings.

  3. Those hideous sculpture-as-building monstrosities are everywhere, almost always ruining more dignified areas. About the special access for casinos, this is taking place in more and more cities, including many in the U.S. I was very disappointed when Cleveland voted for a casino to occupy the former classic Higbee's Department Store. At least they respected the beautiful building they were in, one of Cleveland's finest.

  4. It says a lot about the act of gambling that the likes of Packer can spend millions attracting the punters. One of the UK's highest earners (a Ms Coates ?) runs an online gambling site. Her annual salary is around £300 Million.


  6. Mary: Haha! Not quite a tap dancer just yet! I did have to psych myself up a bit to go back, wondering if my balance was trustworthy after my funny ear problem before Xmas but all was well. I passed the open door to another studio where an adult ballet class was taking place, the one I'd thrown myself into with gusto last year, and am going back to those classes now the wobbling is over, too. Oh, did you know the Royal Ballet has (free?) youtube beginner ballet classes for, ahem, ladies of a certain age? - the Silver Swans, the Duchess of Cornwall is the patron. You could participate in your socks in your living room! It's terribly good for the brain, if nothing else ... Have a wonderful week, too. xx

    Rosemary: Those red shoes sound glorious! Mine are black Mary Janes :) I, too, was a ballet girl and I suspect the tap dancing wasn't encouraged by either of our mothers because of the potential clicketty-clacketting about the house ... The wonder of your neck of the woods is these modern buildings are confined solely to your online world! xx

    Jim: In my mind, a casino should be a James Bond-esque Monte Carlo affair, with a sweeping staircase into some low-rise neoclassical palazzo, so at least Cleveland sounds to have the right approach, if they're going to allow one of these things. I hadn't realised even America had loosened the restrictions for casinos. They have proved to be lucrative cash cows for our governments, so small wonder, really.

    Cro: I think the state earns something in the order of 10-12% of its total revenue from gambling, so the profits are unbelievably tempting for all concerned. Mr. Packer hasn't quite shaken off his off-colour reputation from his association with questionable partners in his Macau establishment, so is taking a less prominent role while the casino awaits its pending license, but will hardly fade away from the venture; his future income is potentially eye-watering.

    Contessa: I expect that they are built these days in such a way as to be eye-catching in the cityscape, so as to act like some siren song, tempting you and never letting you forget they're there. A TV on top of yours? Are the masses to stand slack-jawed before it in stupification? Or worship? How 1984! xx

  7. Oh dear ..... will you all disown me when I say that I rather like the actual building. It reminds me of The Shard. I like a mixture of architectural styles and that’s coming from someone who loves old buildings. Is it the building that people don’t like or the fact that it’s a casino ? XXXX

  8. Jackie: You won't be alone with liking the result, and will probably find yourself in illustrious company once the dust settles. For we locals, in part the ire comes from the corrupt nature of its inception, the approval process, the slippery way it kept morphing into what it was supposed not to be ... you know how these things go. And there is already a casino 200m away as the crow flies. The usual gripes from us NIMBYs, hahah!! xx

    1. Fair enough ! I probably wouldn’t like it if it was in my doorstep ! XXXX

  9. Sculpture as building sounds fantastic, but very few are as good as Gehry or Gaudi and instead are just gaudy. What does one expect with a casino? Surely not good taste.
    Good for you with the tap dancing! The gods of Instagram somehow decided I would like to see solo jazz videos, and they were correct. Looks a lot like tap but without the complicated percussion. Undoubtedly a good workout. But my heart is in Argentine tango.

  10. ToF: No, surely not, Madam! But as I said to Jim, above, repurposing an old palazzo could have been an attractive option, if such things actually existed here, which they don't, so gaudy it must be ... Now the Argentine tango does presume you have a willing and able partner when the mood takes you.

    Jackie: Of course, my decrying it as a Temple of Mammon hasn't stopped me from taking a photo of it at every opportunity, as it does catch the light so! xx

  11. I find it, in its location, to be a fine and aesthetic and impressive structure. Surely it can't all be casino though? Mainly expensive flats to accommodate those with dubiously gained money to spend? I have never been in a casino, and don't ever expect to be. Thanks for the photos, for I don't ever expect to be in Australia either. although that is just possible, I suppose (if some professional client pays the bill, as that is the most common way for me to travel abroad).

  12. Andrew: You are correct in surmising it can't all be a gigantic gambling den, there are indeed apartments and a hotel and whatnots within, as well. And as you noticed, it is finely situated ... on land which was formerly dockland and subsequently intended to be part of a public foreshore park. Therein lies the rub ... Armchair travel is the new black!

  13. Being a humble villager the architectonic phallus symbols certain contemporaries feel important to let erect, don't arouse me.
    They won't survive the pyramids and Machu Pichu, anyway.

  14. Sean: I'm sure the design is partly to make humble villagers gawp in wonder! The message has been lost on you, it seems, but you have rightly spotted that these places will go the way of dust well before their rocky forebears.

  15. I saw a film on tv this week about Harry Seidler who suffered terribly from the responses to his early Sydney pieces of architecture. Of course tastes change over the decades and what was shocking at one stage became mainstream later on.

    So it is not the building's architecture that I object to. I am, as you noted, against "lucrative gambling revenues, lost public space, fitness to operate and gangster money-laundering" :(

  16. Is that an actual crane on top of that tower? How did they get it up there (if so) and how will it come down? As far as I know a crane only has one wing, so it can’t flying?

  17. Hels: There's a smattering of the Seidler portfolio around my 'hood and while it's true, tastes change, a couple, in particular, are not easy on the eye, even now. When an apartment within comes up for sale, I notice the agents tend not to include an exterior shot!

    Friko: Yes, there was a crane on top and it has now come down, and it is a mystery how these things were accomplished! There are cranes atop many city construction projects and the space to manoeuvre these things is so tight means it happens in the dead of night. Typically, they are there one day, gone the next.

  18. In London I have been on the Shard - and have to confess: I like it. It helps me as point of direction, and I loved to get up - woos! - with the elevator... So: I am not against skyscrapers, if there are not too many, and if they look different from each other.

    Dick van Dyke's chimney sweep's rooftop dance (is that correct English?) springs to my mind when I hear "tap dancing - and I admire you to learn it!!!

  19. Britta: We have some skyscrapers in Sydney that are breathtakingly beautiful, and some absolute horrors, and everything in-between, for this is a city that does love its Views! ... Tap dancing is terrifically fun so far, but as for dancing a screen-worthy routine - well, we shall see :)

  20. Darling Pip,

    What a delicious cabinet of curiosities you present for us, your devoted readers.

    First, the 'Tower of Babel' where it would appear that many languages, particularly Chinese, is i=to be spoken in its bars, restaurants, observation decks and casino. there seems to be a preoccupation globally with buildings which soar upwards and, seemingly, a never ending supply of people who wish to live at over 60 floors above the ground and pay heavily for the privilege. What it can be like in the advertised "Sky Villas" in a high wind on floors 67-69 is anyone's guess, but even the thought of it certainly makes us feel queasy.

    Secondly, your revelation as a tap dancer. You must be incredibly fit to cope with all the practice sessions. Just to be able to touch our toes we now see as a feat worthy of a record book, but the idea of your donning tap shoes and resembling Michael Flatley fills us with admiration and not a little envy. We shall live in hope of a Pipistrello Parramatta Riverdance video in a subsequent post.

    Indeed, perhaps Mr. Packer will invite you to perform at the opening ceremony of Crown Sydney. Now, that would surely make the cash registers ring!:):)

  21. dear me no it's not a keeper.

  22. Jane & Lance: Darlings, thank you for your lovely comment! It would appear you have had a little look about the delights as offered by our new Temple; such glittering promises the casino doth hold for those with pesos and renminbis burning holes in their pockets! Nowhere does the glossy brochure mention that our City is rather a windy city, and you are correct in surmising that the upper reaches of such Towers are rather, ahem, thrilling places when the wind is up. Dear Brother lives atop his 27-floor apartment block, and that can be a fearsome enough height for experiencing atmospheric phenomena ... Funny you should mention Michael Flatley, for I was describing to dear friends last night at dinner that these early stages of my tapping toward the future do more resemble Irish dancing as the brain is yet refusing to cooperate in moving arms and feet at the same time time! I fear you and Mr. Packer both shall be waiting for a rather long time to enjoy even any chorus-girl performances coming from me. But I appreciate your faith in my future ringing success!

    Ur-spo: So far, it would seems, the ayes don't have it!


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