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The most interesting way to discover Sydney’s architectural gems is on two wheels. Since Australia’s largest city is not characterised by one particular building style, travelling by bike allows riders to take in the many designs that have developed over the city’s fascinating history.

Created by architect Eoghan Lewis, Sydney Architecture Walks bike tours cover the trendy inner-city suburbs of Ultimo, Chippendale, Redfern, Waterloo and Surry Hills, travelling along the city’s formerly industrial western waterfront. The focus is on Sydney’s modern and thought-provoking architectural projects, especially chosen for their design and stories. Lewis (or one of his team) leads each tour, using his expertise to explain how ideas have shaped Sydney’s bricks and mortar.

“The inner-city suburbs are undergoing the most rapid gentrification. They are in flux and the tension is palpable,” Lewis said. “Even locals that live and work in this part of Sydney are surprised by the projects we unearth.”

A highlight is a visit to Domenic Alvaro’s “Small House” in Surry Hills. The five-storey apartment is built on a 7m by 6m piece of land – no bigger than the garage of a typical suburban home – and tour participants are encouraged to think about conventional living and planning when studying the building in this high-density area.

Also in Surry Hills, Neeson Murcutt’s Prince Alfred Pool Park is a striking and seamless integration of landscape and edifice. Re-opened in May 2013, it is considered one of Sydney’s most environmentally efficient buildings, its design celebrating the surrounding scenery while the pool incorporates a number of sustainable practices, including water-saving fixtures and storm water harvesting. Look out for a quirky design element: the animated chimneys by Lymesmith, which also act as innovative public art displays.

In Redfern, the route passes a repurposed corroding tin shed, turned into a modern office and studio apartment. “The humble tin shed is an iconic Australian structure,” the owner and designer, Raffaello Rosselli, explained. “As the only remaining shed in the area it is a unique reminder of the suburb’s industrial past.” With a prominent location on the corner of a residential street, the quirky-cool building stands out for its use of interesting materials, including cement fibre wall panels. In contrast to the humble exterior, the interior features clean lines and a light colour scheme.

Sydney’s roads can get busy, so rides stick to quiet streets, back lanes and bike paths. The tours last from 4.5 to five hours and cover five suburbs. The next event is scheduled for 18 August.

Tatyana Leonov is the Sydney Localite for BBC Travel  

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