What makes a building truly great? That’s the question driving a four day program of talks, events, tours and exhibits announced for the Sydney Architecture Festival, taking place this year from Friday September 28 until Monday October 1.

This year is a significant one for several of the city, and the country’s, most iconic feats of architectural design. Chief amongst them is the 45th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Opera House, and the centenary of the birth of the Danish architect charged with its indelible design, Jørn Utzon.  It’s also the 30th anniversary of Canberra’s Parliament House, a building that broke all the rules at the time of its construction. Both these milestones underpin the program, which per tradition is bookended by the The Architecture Symposium, presented for the first time in Sydney on September 28, and the annual World Architecture Day Oration on October 1.

But it’s not all about those that have come before: the festival promises to look toward both the future of those institutions and forecast the changing nature of the design practice itself. The New York-based critic and almost decade-long juror of the Pritzker Prize, Karen Stein, will deliver the year’s flagship oration in the Opera House’s Utzon Room, where she will take the temperature of architecture globally and reflect on the fundamentals of architecture as a public act, interrogating fundamental questions such as, what is architecture? Who makes architecture? And why is it meaningful?

Highlights from the 12th annual festival can be previewed in the gallery above. The full Sydney Architecture Festival program is available here.

Tile and cover image: Hamilton Lund/Courtesy of the Sydney Architecture Festival