Skip links

About Elizabeth Farrelly

Elizabeth Farrelly is a columnist, essayist, novelist, critic and speaker. Trained in architecture, science and philosophy, she is fascinated by how humans engage with nature to make culture. Over thirty years her Sydney Morning Herald column on urbanism, planning, planting, climate, politics and public art has seen city-making go from back-page news to headline material. With a PhD in Sydney urbanism, Farrelly has been Assistant Editor of the Architectural Review in London, a City of Sydney Councillor, Associate Professor (Practice) in the Australian Graduate School of Urbanism at the University of NSW and inaugural chair of the Australia Award for Urban Design.
As an independent Sydney City Councillor (1991-95), Elizabeth initiated Sydney’s first heritage and laneway protection policies, and was inaugural chair of the Australia Award for Urban Design (1998). She was also Manager Special Projects at the City of Sydney during the Olympic preparations (1998-2000) and is an award-winning writer and published author.
Elizabeth Farrelly holds a number of national and international writing awards. As Assistant Editor of The Architectural Review (London) Elizabeth edited the August 1986 special issue ‘The New Spirit’, which won the Paris-based CICA award for architectural criticism. Her other awards including the Pascall Prize, the Walter Burley Griffin Award, the Adrian Ashton Award and the Marion Mahony Griffin Award.
An articulate and engaging speaker who has shared the stage with Paul Keating, Nick Greiner, Jack Mundy and Peter Fitzsimons, amongst others, Elizabeth Farrelly is skilled at making complex issues accessible to diverse audiences both in Australia and overseas.
Elizabeth Farrelly is a highly respected speaker and her many and varied speaking engagements include the Jack Zunz lecture at the Sydney Opera House, the Walter Burley Griffin lecture at the Science Academy in Canberra, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Margaret Hendry Lecture, Canberra, the Sydney, Byron Bay and Adelaide Writers Festivals, the Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas, the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, the Art Gallery of NSW ‘Art After Hours’ talks and Ecobuild (London).
She has also addressed the Sydney Institute, the Independent Scholars Association, Politics in the Pub, the Australian Institute of Architects, the Planning Institute of Australia, the Sydney Greens, Sydney Design Week, the University of Sydney Sesquicentenary Colloquium Dinner and the Fabian Society, Sydney.
Her books include Three Houses, a monograph on Pritzker prizewinner Glenn Murcutt (1993); Blubberland; the dangers of happiness (2007), which was shortlisted for the Walkley Non-Fiction Book award, Potential Difference (2011), a collection of essays and CARO WAS HERE, a crime novel for children (2014).