Sustainable plans for Canberra's Shine Dome

Thursday, 18 June, 2020

Sustainable plans for Canberra's Shine Dome

The Shine Dome in Canberra is the focus of a joint project to research and develop approaches to conserve and sustainably manage the heritage-listed landmark, home to the Australian Academy of Science.

Professional services company GHD, in collaboration with University of Canberra, will merge heritage principles with pioneering sustainability values to help the Academy minimise its negative impacts on the environment.

Designed by Sir Roy Grounds, the Shine Dome (previously called Becker House) was purpose-built in 1959 as a home for the Australian Academy of Science, featuring bold architectural ideas for the era. At the time, many doubted the structure could be built as nobody knew how to calculate the stresses created by a 710-tonne concrete dome balanced on 16 slender supports without collapsing.

The dome was Canberra’s first building to be added to the National Heritage List in 2005 and today it remains one of Australia’s most unusually striking buildings. It houses archive collections from Australia’s most famous scientists — including Frank Fenner, who helped eradicate smallpox — as well as holding lectures and other events.

“The combination of integrating innovative sustainability components within an existing heritage envelope is a special challenge,” said Tai Hollingsbee, GHD’s National Building Engineering Leader.

“We need to preserve the heritage value and at the same time represent the scientific innovation and experimentation that goes hand in hand with the Australian Academy of Science.”

GHD’s prior involvement with the Shine Dome dates back to 1999, when the company completed the building’s Conservation Management Plan. This history, combined with Hollingsbee’s wide recognition for sustainability expertise, was crucial to winning this project.

Based in Melbourne, Hollingsbee is widely recognised for his work in building physics, sustainability and the application of technology to improve performance outcomes across a diverse range of complex engineering projects in Australia and globally.

Led by Hollingsbee, the GHD team will assess the internal and external fabric, building systems, operational profiles and forecast future uses to determine how best to replace old equipment and apply new technology without changing the design. GHD’s innovative experts will be pivotal to providing the Australian Academy of Science with an environmentally friendly Shine Dome.

“We are looking forward to working with the Academy together with the University of Canberra and combining all of our expertise to achieve something special,” Hollingsbee said.

The complex project will take a full year to complete and is supported by the Australian Government under their Australian Heritage Grant Scheme.

Image credit: © Andronov

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