Elizabeth Farrelly

Elizabeth Margaret Farrelly, born 1957 in Dunedin, New Zealand, is a Sydney-based author, architecture critic, essayist, columnist and speaker who was born in New Zealand but later became an Australian citizen. She has contributed to current debates about aesthetics, ethics, design, public art, architecture, urban environments, society and politics, including criticism of the treatment of Julian Assange.[1][2][3] Farrelly's range of interests and contributions are wide enough to have caused her to be described as a "Renaissance woman".[4] Farrelly's portrait by Mirra Whale was a finalist in the 2015 Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.[5]

Elizabeth Farrelly
Dunedin, New Zealand
OccupationWriter, academic
CitizenshipAustralia, New Zealand
Alma materUniversity of Sydney (Ph.D.)

Early life

Farrelly was born in Dunedin, New Zealand and trained as an architect in Auckland. She left New Zealand in 1983 for London, moved to Sydney in October 1988 and became an Australian citizen in 1991. She holds a PhD in architecture from the University of Sydney.


Farrelly has taught at the University of New South Wales where she is Associate Professor (Practice) in the UNSW Graduate School of Urbanism; the University of Technology, Sydney, where she was Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture; the University of Auckland; the Royal College of Art, London; the Humberside Polytechnic and the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London. Farrelly has set writing for Wikipedia as a task for post-graduate students, and has commented that its demand for every input to be traceable and published, enables "genuine crowd-sourcing of scholarship" and is both "a revelation and a revolution".[6]


Farrelly practised as an architect in London until 1988, working at Pollard Thomas and Edwards Architects, London; at JASMaD Architects, Auckland; and Warren and Mahoney, Christchurch. She was the inaugural chair of the Australia Award for Urban Design, an award "established to recognise recent urban design projects of high quality in Australia and to encourage cities, towns and emerging settlements of all sizes to strive similarly for improvement".[7] and served as a juror for design awards such as Parramatta Design Excellence Awards and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Awards.

Public service

Elizabeth Farrelly served as an independent Councillor of the City of Sydney from 1991 to 1995.

Writing and speaking

Farrelly was assistant editor of and contributor to the Architectural Review, London from 1985 to 1987 and a contributor to other professional publications such as The Architecture Bulletin; Architecture Australia; Architectural Theory Review; Architects' Journal; New Zealand Architect; and Queensland Architect. She writes a weekly column and regular essays for The Sydney Morning Herald, one of which, on "the destructive myth of professionalism", was among the editor's best comment pieces of 2015.[8][9] Her blogs are available at www.leflaneur.mobi.

Farrelly was a panellist at the University of Sydney's Sesquicentenary Colloquium Dinner on 12 October 2002, where her topic was Dreaming Spires: Architecture and the learning game[10] and an invited speaker at the Art Gallery of New South Wales Art After Hours program. In 2014, she was the keynote speaker at the Green Buildings Conference in Pretoria, South Africa and also delivered the year's final Utzon lecture at the University of New South Wales, which explored the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in architecture.[11][12]


  • (1993) Glenn Murcutt: Three Houses [13]
  • (2005) Sitelines: aspects of Sydney Harbour: a collection of essays celebrating Sydney Harbour, ranging from the long view to the personal, these passionate and informed perspectives tell the story of the Harbour and its foreshores (contributor)[14]
  • (2007) Blubberland: the dangers of happiness .[15]
  • (2012) Potential Difference: Assays and Sorties[16]
  • (2012) H2o Architects to 2012[17]
  • (2014) Caro Was Here[18]

Awards for writing


  1. "Elizabeth Farrelly". Newspaper contributor biography. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  2. "In the case of Assange, truth is actively and repeatedly punished". Farrelly, Elizabeth (12 April 2012). "Truth of Assange is stranger than fiction". The National Times. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  3. "Assange had not been charged with any crime." Farrelly, Elizabeth (29 November 2012). "Ambassador's rage doesn't dispel facts". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  4. Doogue, Geraldine (12 September 2009). "Creative Thinking: Elizabeth Farrelly". Interview (and transcript). ABC Radio National. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  5. "Archibald Prize Finalists: Elizabeth". Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  6. Farrelly, Elizabeth (9 December 2015). "Don't fall for Wiki-denial: there's nothing wrong with using Wikipedia". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  7. Planning Institute Australia. "Australia Award for Urban Design". website. Planning Institute Australia. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  8. Editor (30 December 2015). "15 of our best comment pieces of 2015". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  9. Farrelly, Elizabeth (21 October 2015). "You don't have a career. You have a life". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  10. Farrelly, Elizabeth (12 October 2002). "Dreaming Spires: Architecture and the learning game". Sesquicentenary Colloquium Dinner. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  11. Green Building Conference Programme 17&18 June 2014
  12. "2014 Utzon lecture: Architecture and Morality: Geometries of virtue". Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  13. Farrelly, Elizabeth (1993). Glenn Murcutt: Three Houses. London: Phaidon. ISBN 0714828750.
  14. Bailey, Blainey, Marr, Uren, Blainey, Farrelly, Briscoe, Fletcher (2005). Sitelines: aspects of Sydney Harbour : a collection of essays celebrating Sydney Harbour, ranging from the long view to the personal, these passionate and informed perspectives tell the story of the Harbour and its foreshores. Sydney: Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. ISBN 0975109405.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. Farrelly, Elizabeth (2007). Blubberland – The Dangers of Happiness. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 978-0-86840-837-8.
  16. Farrelly, Elizabeth (2012). Potential difference: assays and sorties. Sydney, NSW. ISBN 9780646589282.
  17. Farrelly, Elizabeth (2012). H2o Architects to 2012. Collingwood, Victoria: Macmillan Art Publishing. ISBN 9781921394980.
  18. Farrelly, Elizabeth (2014). Caro was here. Walker Books Australia. ISBN 9781922244833.
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