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The Waterfront Pavilion – Australian National Maritime Museum

Architect Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp – FJMT studio designed a unique, poetic building. The Waterfront Pavilion is a state of the art $12 million waterfront attraction located at Darling Harbour. It showcases the danger and drama of military life at sea, through a high-tech immersive journey that reveals the inner workings of the navy like never before. To the general public, this experience is called Action Station.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-01-Brett-Boardman-759x484 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

The Pavilion hosts three world-class function spaces, including: an outdoor rooftop (The Lookout), a VIP terrace (The City View Room) – a cocktail venue with natural light and city views, and a cinematic experience (Nine Network Projection Room). Adjacent to the HMAS Vampire, the Pavilion is the ideal wet weather option and offers a never to be forgotten experience.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-03-Brett-Boardman-759x593 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman


The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-02-Brett-Boardman-759x364 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

The Australian National Maritime Museum’s new experience Action Stations opened in November 2015 to mark the centenary of World War I and commemorate 100 years of submarine and surface service by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Located in the new Waterfront Pavilion adjacent to the museum’s ex-Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire, submarine HMAS Onslow and patrol boat HMAS Advance, Action Stations provides a dynamic, immersive entry experience for visitors on the history of the RAN and its people.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-04-Brett-Boardman-759x506 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

Through dynamic interactive displays and immersive media, visitors can learn more about the role and loss of Australia’s first submarine AE1 in the battle for German New Guinea; the story of AE2 at Gallipoli and its incredible voyage through the Dardanelles; and the story of Australia’s first great naval battle – HMAS Sydney v SMS Emden.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-06-Brett-Boardman-708x1200 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

These World War I engagements will be explored within the context of the RAN’s subsequent operations during WWII, Vietnam, the Cold War and present day demonstrating how the legacy from each era influenced the next phase of design and development. Action Stations also brings to life the human stories behind the uniforms, contrasting the experiences of naval servicemen and women over the last 100 years and highlighting the similarities.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-07-Brett-Boardman-759x610 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman


The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-09-Brett-Boardman-759x390 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

Design Features:

  • The purpose of this museum pavilion building is to create a transition experience for visitors from the waterfront dock onto the two navel vessels HMAS Vampire and HMAS Onslow. Built on a narrow existing wharf structure and to a tight budget the question was what should be the character of such a ‘building’ over the water of Darling Harbour and fitting tightly between two of the most significant Australian navel vessels.
  • The geometry of the resulting complex form is realised through a simple and low cost modular system based on a single width and gradual progressive adjustment in alignment. This low cost propriety, pre-finished, aluminium, insulated panel common in factory construction has been adapted and integrated with glazed units and openings on the same module. These insulated panels also form the interior surface and finish supported by expressed steel portals and profiled tubes.
  • The interior of the Pavilion is, in a sense, like the interior of the naval vessels or an industrial shed; hardy, rough and adaptable. Sheet vinyl floors, insulted aluminium walls, and industrial suspended fans. A lack of preciousness invites future change adaptation and evolution for future curators and visitors.
  • Sustainability was integrated into the building form and performance including natural ventilation and considerations for the building’s proximity to the marine environment.
  • There is no air-conditioning in the main multi-use and exhibition space where visitors enter and exit the vessels. The exhibition space has a series of louvres and openings for natural ventilation and very large overhead fans which help to moderate the movement of air in the space without impacting on the space.
  • The narrow but high exhibition space assists with air movement in the space as the height draws the warm air up. There is a concealed opening at the high point of the building which allows the air to exhaust. The natural ventilation systems incorporated creates for the building a space that is more connected to its natural environment and connection to the vessels.
  • The façade panels do most of the work in insulating the building due to their performance and composition of both an external and internal skin with an insulating layer between. The geometry of the exterior panels also has an impact.
The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-08-Brett-Boardman-759x820 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

Sitting dramatically between the warships, the interplay of forms and interaction with the water enables a confident dialogue between pavilion and ship. The visitor is able to easily interact with both internal and external exhibits, and closely consider their relationship to the water. The robust spatial quality of the pavilion’s entry sequence introduce the scale and proportions of the warships, while comfortably accommodating larger groups and flexible interpretative exhibitions.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-10-Brett-Boardman-800x1200 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

FJMT studio:

Anchored to the South wharf of Sydney’s Darling Harbour, The Action Stations at Waterside Pavilion, Australian National Museum was built to mark the centenary of World War I and commemorate 100 years of service by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The purpose of this museum pavilion building is to create a transition experience for visitors from the waterfront dock onto the two navel vessels HMAS Vampire and HMAS Onslow. Built on a narrow existing wharf structure and to a tight budget the question was what should be the character of such a ‘building’ over the water of Darling Harbour and fitting tightly between two of the most significant Australian navel vessels.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-11-Brett-Boardman-759x506 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

The design seeks to bring the narratives of war to life and significantly enliven the visitors relationship with the vessels, waterfront and broader museum precinct. The articulated facade of the pavilion compliments the scale, form, colour of the vessels and the broader marine environment. The warship pavilion offers a dynamic, immersive experience and is an elegant, integrated addition to the Harbour precinct.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-12-Brett-Boardman-800x1200 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

The suspended tube ‘hovering’ over the wharf, creates space at the wharf level to move around and experience the edge; where the vessels meet the water. The tube appears to ‘float’ in the air between the vessels floating in the water.This tube was then formally shaped and profiled in relation the natural movement of visitors from the dockside up into the building, through the portals and gangways onto the vessels.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-15-Brett-Boardman-759x506 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

The pavilion is further shaped by the primary forms of the adjacent vessels themselves, the conning tower of the submarine and the bridge of the destroyer creating central formal distortions. These distortions are then transformed into large glazed portals that frame lateral views onto the vessels.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-17-Brett-Boardman-800x1200 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

The interior of the Pavilion reflects elements of the interior of the navel vessels or an industrial shed; hardy, rough and adaptable. Sheet vinyl floors, insulted aluminium walls and industrial suspended fans. A lack of preciousness invites future change adaptation and evolution for future curators and visitors.

The-Waterfront-Pavilion-Australian-National-Maritime-Museum-By-FJMT-studio-18-Brett-Boardman-759x761 The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio

© Brett Boardman

Project Data:

Project name: Shanghai Tower
Location: 2 Murray St, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia
Coordinates: -33.869154, 151.199578
Type: Museum
Project area: 500 sqm
Capacity:

  • The Lookout – 80 cocktail
  • The City View Room – 130 cocktail
  • Nine Network Projection Room – 40 guests

Status: Built
Cost/Budget: $12 million
Completion Year: 2015
Opening Date: November 2015

Awards:

  • 2016 – Sydney Design Awards – Category: Architecture / Public or Institutional – Winner
  • 2016 – WAN Awards – Category: Civic Buildings – Shortlist
  • 2016 – Australian Institute of Architects Awards – NSW Chapter Architecture Awards – Category: Public Architecture – Commendation

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Australian National Maritime Museum
Architects:

  • FJMT studio – Level 5/70 King St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Design Director: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp

Project Team:

  • Richard Francis-Jones, Jeff Morehen, Elizabeth Carpenter, James Perry, Lilian Lau, John Perry, Daniel Bourke, Joshua Hesford

Principal Builder: Stephen Edwards Constructions Pty Ltd

Engineers:

  • Electrical and lighting engineer: Steensen Varming
  • Fire engineer: Red Fire Engineers
  • Hydraulic and fire services engineer: Warren Smith & Partners
  • Mechanical engineer: Steensen Varming
  • Structure and facade engineering: Taylor Thomson Whitting

Consultants

  • Exhibition design (multi-use space): studioplusthree
  • Exhibition design (ice space): Spinifex Group
  • Accessibility consultant: Accessibility Solutions
  • Acoustics:  Acoustic Studio
  • BCA consultant:  Group DLA

Selected suppliers & subcontractors, Manufacturers:

  • Manufacturers: Kingspan, Forbo Flooring Systems, Colourbond

Text Description: © Courtesy of FJMT studio, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney Design Awards
Images: © FJMT studio, Brett Boardman

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The Waterfront Pavilion - Australian National Maritime Museum / FJMT studio
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