Labor candidate for Parramatta Andrew Charlton alongside Anthony Albanese (Image: AAP/Flavio Brancaleone)
Labor candidate for Parramatta Andrew Charlton alongside Anthony Albanese (Image: AAP/Flavio Brancaleone)

Halfway across Parramatta Square on a dark weekday evening, tired workers streaming home, the glass towers soaring above the tangle of cyclone wire, plastic sheeting, and a few remaining shops, I looked up at one particular glass-and-steel horror story, and thought, "That building is fucking that other building."

All the while, the building did not let up. It was vast and low and long, sides of glass panes and panels and twisted metal, expanding in all directions. It loomed behind the two-storey, yellow-brick, graceful, Victorian old town hall, overshadowing its modest roof and arches, and, well, reaching right into the back of it.

It was a very neat trick, I thought, because it wrecked the appearance of both buildings, giving neither the space to be. Shoved together in ways that some concept document no doubt says is "deconstructive respacing of urban syzygy", the whole schemozzle is failed, stupid and very, very 21st-century Parramatta. On Google Maps, I dropped a pin at the building's address. PHIVE, it said. PHIVE?