Master Builder of the Year | National 2016, 2019 | Victoria 2016, 2017, 2019
NEWS | New South Wales

Books and Water do not mix

21st July, 2016


Like many of you, I've been reading since I was 4. That’s when I started visiting my primary school library in country Victoria. The library visit I remember most clearly was the morning after a big November storm. The rain and wind had destroyed crops, knocked over sheds and the odd roof had flown away. Our little school library had flooded and my lesson learned that day… books and water do not mix.

In 2013, the City of Greater Geelong awarded Kane a Lump Sum contract to deliver a unique and complex building, the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre. The design, by ARM, was amazing, exciting and visually challenging.  Multi-faceted geometric rock-like formations wrapped the building in a great dome. But how could we ensure that the books and water did not mix?

While the contract was lump sum, Kane took on the design for the façade - glazing, precast and GRC – to provide the necessary protection from the elements. We worked closely with the consultants and subcontractors to achieve a very unique set of outcomes.

Our project manager, David Purcell and design manager/engineer, Shane Harders went to ASURCO, a South Australian GRC specialists who had the right manufacturing and installation expertise. David and Shane lead the team to innovate, develop and detail bespoke manufacturing, engineering and waterproofing solutions, just as we had done previously on the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute at Queenscliff

They lead collaborative design workshops and integrated the various subcontractors’ elements with our cranage and rigging methodologies. Kane and ASURCO concurrently modelled the roof in ‘Inventor’, made and tested lots of prototypes.

That all sounds pretty straightforward, but not quite…

The roof dome consists of 550 individual panels of numerous shapes, sizes and colours, manufactured 750kms from site, and needing to fit (perfectly) on a convex secondary steel sub-framing and primary steel structure to create the dome.

Kane developed a waterproofed in-situ panel joint with a multilayered weather seal system comprising powder-coated aluminium primary seal, a waterproofing membrane secondary seal with air gap for pressure equalisation, and finally an Envirosystems HP1200 tertiary waterproofing layer. We tested the panels and waterproofing at Vipac labs.

The project and the team have since received fantastic industry recognition, winning prestigious awards, including:

  • David Purcell & Kane: AIB (Vic) Building Professional of the Year & Professional Excellence Commercial Construction $10M-$50M
  • ARM: the Marion Mahony Award for Interior Architecture, the William Wardell Award for Public Architecture, the Regional Prize, and the Victorian Architecture Medal
  • GLHC was awarded the 2015 Victorian Excellence in Concrete Award by the Concrete Institute of Australia for its innovative use of concrete and glass reinforced concrete.

And as a builder, here's what we took away:

1. Select your team very, very carefully. Then trust them to do what they do best.

2. Provide leadership and a framework for communication. A forum for ideas, not a cage for fighting.

3. A sense of urgency does not mean rush.

And, just so you know...

In the '1-in-50 year' storm that lashed Geelong in January of 2016, the books stayed dry.