by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Concrete In Australia : September 2008
The new visitor’s centre at Shark Bay uses tilt-up concrete panels to good efftect. Concrete icon at Shark Bay The new Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre, at Denham, north of Geraldton in Western Australia, is attracting attention as a monument to the practical and aesthetic benefits of concrete construction. Designed by architects Woodhead in Perth, the building explores the physical, historical and social context of the area. Project architect, John Nichols, says tilt-up concrete construction helped overcome some of the practical problems of constructing a landmark building in a remote location, at the same time providing the design team with scope to explore texture, shape and colour. The visitor’s centre is a collection of simple grey tilt-panel concrete “boxes”, typical of any warehouse design. However, to give the building a distinct civic presence, the design team played with both the geometry and fi nish of these “boxes”, slanting and skewing some facades and exploring a variety of surface textures and claddings. With no precasting facilities available locally and the cost and time involved in transporting factory cast panels from afar too great, tilt-up construction was used. All the panels were formed- up, cast and fi nished on site and lifted into position. The front facade of the building features a wall of coloured, polished panels. A cast-in pattern of horizontal lines continues across all the panels. One panel also has a cast-in return that wraps around the side of the building, while another has a deep reveal – challenges that were successfully negotiated during the forming and casting stages. This coloured and polished wall is punctuated by the public entrance lobby, featuring glazed walls, copper fascia and a pewter building sign which together register and celebrate the aggressive character of the salt laden winds. To the right of the entrance lobby sits one of the primary concrete “boxes”, housing the main exhibition space. This “box” is tilted and twisted as if it has been randomly blown up onto the beach. Clad in salt-resistant titanium zinc sheeting, it provides an intriguing contrast with the otherwise plain grey concrete finish of the “boxes” that sit directly behind it, as well as the adjoining coloured polished concrete wall along the front of the building. The entire complex sits atop a low concrete podium, 800mm above street level. This podium ensures the building is protected from occasional tidal surge events. Internally, the three primary exhibition spaces of unpainted grey tilt panels are wrapped by service spaces of similar construction. Protected from direct sun, the thermal mass of the concrete walls and fl oor help create the stable environment required for the precious historic exhibits without the necessity for additional layers of construction or insulation. In the main exhibition space a map of the region has been sand-blasted into the polished concrete fl oor, creating yet another distinctive and highly visual feature. This welcomes and leads the visitor on an amazing journey around Shark Bay – across time, and in company and conversation with those who have been part of this extraordinary place. Built for the Shire of Shark Bay, the Shark Bay Discovery Centre was engineered by Kellogg Brown & Root and constructed by Crothers Construction. The specialist concrete sub-contractor was Gardner’s Tilt Panel. The project is a winner of a Royal Australian Institute of Architecture (WA Chapter) Architecture Award, a WAMaster Builders’ Association Excellence in Construction Award for Best Regional project, and was nominated for a 2007 CCAA Public Domain Award. Concrete in Australia Vol 34 No 3 23 PHOTO: JOHN GOLLINGS