The White Bay Power Station, a heritage listed former coal-fired power station is the site for the 2015 graduation project.
Earth- en Oceanic adaptively reuses the heritage structure, White Bay Power Station, as an interactive Earth and Ocean Observatory and tracking facility as part of the revival of Sydney’s industrial Harbour.
Heritage architecture is often associated with strict rules to abide by to ensure we do not interrupt the historical significance and memory of a site- we strive for timelessness. I wanted to respect this notion and also the urban presence and identity of the landmark, but I also felt quite design- restrained in the beginning. My solution was to excavate in large sections beneath the existing site and its unused, industrial land facing toward the Harbour- it was from this decision that my scheme became partly liberated from the heritage parameters of the existing site and morphed into Earth-en Oceanic.
Excavation embeds the architecture within the earth and draws upon its purpose as an observatory. Ample filtering of light and water into the regions below ground level via the roof structure, waterfall features and open voids allows for introductions of landscape features including tree plantations, in an attempt to create an atmosphere of serenity and mystery. This separates the visitors from the cityscape and transports them into a tranquil retreat posing similarities to a rainforest.
The architecture attempts to celebrate the memory of the demolished Boiler House 2 with a new build which journeys below ground level. This new build, in addition to tree plantations, sculpts the entries into the excavated interiors and frames the pathways into the interiors of the existing site.
I have proposed a new entrance which faces Sydney Harbour where the visitors to the site are guided up from the Harbour through a new landscaped region. On approach to the site visitors are greeted by the new build with a multipurpose pool of water which flows on top and forms a continual waterfall cycle down the edges and throughout the excavation region below. Visitors are guided across the top of the new build and body of water via a minimalist, reinforced glass bridge recessed within the water where the transparency allows for views down into the excavation. The waterfall is visible in sections from the interior, including as a feature running down the walls. It also forms a majority of the roof structure to filter light and interesting shadows down into the excavation spaces below.
Considerations for the environmental impacts of the original White Bay Power Station were the conceptual underpinnings for this project. I considered the formation of ‘Noctilucent clouds’ as a major component of my research. These ironically beautiful clouds remind us of humanity’s interactions and impacts upon oceans and earth. They glisten above the water and leave mystical trails and evidence for observers, a constant battle between beauty and harm. The cause of these clouds forming high above the earth is a combination of meteor smoke, where water molecules gather the dust of meteors creating ice crystals; in combination with the significant increases in carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere. This concept is most evident in my proposal in its end use typology and also the illuminated appearances of tracking screens, maps and projections which allude to the Noctilucent clouds.
Catering for live camera footage and visitor- controlled tracking systems exploring the depths of oceans throughout the world and some of the most untouched earth Australia and the world has to offer was proposed to allow for non- threatening and educational viewing and monitoring of remote environments and earth processes. Proposals for displaying satellite imagery and earth tracking from space through projections, in addition to dive tanks with marine life were aimed at promoting interaction.
The range of café and restaurant spaces proposed, as well as the notion of ‘design your own experience,’ with visitor- controlled exploration throughout vast expanses of earth, ocean and space was intended to cater for the diverse interests of the Sydney public.
2015 BIA Graduation Exhibition – Imprint
Opening night Tuesday 24 November
Exhibition open to the public 25-27 November
Graduation Exhibition Committee 2015
Bachelor of Interior Architecture