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About Elizabeth Farrelly

Dr Elizabeth Farrelly is a Sydney-based columnist and author and a regular commentator, broadcaster, blogger and critic on architecture and public issues.
Elizabeth trained in architecture and philosophy, practiced in London and Bristol and holds a PhD in urbanism from the University of Sydney, where she is also a former Adjunct Associate Professor.
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 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.
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.
Her books include Three Houses, a monograph on 2003 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).
An articulate, interesting 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.

Calm Ya Farm

Lectures & Talks

A lovely chat with podcaster Jac Tonks, earlier this month…



Chat with Jonathan Green on ABCRN BLUEPRINT : Yes Sydney has a soul, and it’s worth saving

National Trust trust

Lectures & Talks

Delighted to announce my election to the twelve-person board of the NSW National Trust. I expect a steep learning curve and a LOT of fun! Here we all are, Dr Clive Lucas, Fenella Kernebone, John Richardson, Ian Stephenson and lots of others, all nicely socially distanced!


Lectures & Talks

FUTURE CITIES We tend to think of the future as being more of the same – bigger, faster, denser, more competititive. But maybe, just maybe, it’ll be more textured, more plural, more open and accepting. Maybe we’ll be just. tad wiser….here is a piece I wrote for Virgin mag a couple of years ago (now […]

Wound willy nilly into a fat tail event


What a punishment, egad. A forced morning meander through the Sydney autumn. Back in March when E, forcibly exiled from her beloved film studies in the UK, squeaked back in under the closing portcullis, we had little choice but to quarantine at the farm. (The alternative was my Newtown share house, but with people still […]


‘Green of Greed: density Done Well or Developer Free-for-All?’


Architecture and Morality: The Geometries of Virtue


‘The Mad Square: Modernity in German Art 1910-37’ 2011

Client Testimonials

Thank you for your kind, intuitive and succinct comments… You mixed in with your profound observation, warmth and humour… Over the years we have had quite a number of speakers… There are the best, and then there are the rest. In your case there was absolute silence and attention paid to your every word. You are now top of the best list.
– Australian Galleries
Stimulating, informed, humorous, very articulate, well-researched and lateral thinking, while very much on topic … Dr Farrelly’s presence in Canberra attracted audiences and led to on-going debates. We will be engaging her again.
– Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
Allow me to pass on our warmest congratulations for your masterful MC-ing of the Gleebooks session on the Block recently … you deftly ensured that everyone had sufficient time to cover the main issues.
– Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS
Elizabeth, thank you so much for being part of Art After Hours … it was really great to hear you tie the exhibition themes and images to the modernist architectural tradition. I especially liked your El Lissitzky-man joke. Kudos.
– Art Gallery of NSW
You gave participants a very comprehensive understanding of complex issue involved in building a sustainable future city.
Renaissance Woman, that’s how I’d describe Elizabeth Farrelly: provocative Fairfax columnist, architecture academic, essayist on everything from climate change to feminism; perpetual thinker, mother of teenagers, and former independent Sydney City councillor. And I must tell you that Elizabeth is among the very few interviewees who’s ever admitted to this personality trait: arrogance. In her own words she says ‘I can understand why some people do hate the arrogance in me.
– Geraldine Doogue, ABC Radio National