Innovations in construction
Working over water on an over 100-year-old pier presented unique challenges which were overcome in a variety of ways.
The majority of essential services have been fed from a central plant room in the Wharf 4/5 Shore Sheds.
Services were installed from a boat, under the wharf in special trays and pipes for proximity to the sea.
Strict load limits on the old timber structure meant that deliveries had to be broken down into multiple small loads and barges were used to deliver important features such as whole lift shafts and the 21-tonne shared foyer stairway.
The old timber members required extensive rectification including the replacement of 24 storey posts, new steel piles, strengthening or replacement of deteriorated beams and joists and the shifting of existing piles, all while the building remained a live construction site.
Constructing within a 100-year-old timber pier on Sydney Harbour meant that acoustic solutions had to be well-planned and constructed.
A solid steel plate floor was installed in the ACO auditorium, instead of the more traditional concrete slab floor, to meet height restrictions while maintaining the mass required for low frequency acoustic performance.
All walls, ceilings and equipment in the theatre and rehearsal spaces were installed on acoustic mounts, reducing the impact of vibrations through the structure from passing harbour traffic and other activities in the precinct.
Bespoke acoustic timber cladding has been installed in all performance and rehearsal spaces, not only achieving acoustic outcomes but adding to the interior design.
The ACO Performance space is fitted with a state-of-the-art Yamaha Active Architecture System, called Active Field Control (AFC) Enhance, creating a full sound experience within this space
Construction challenges were turned around to deliver highly specified facilities with innovative features.
Large sections of the roof in the central valleys were raised to facilitate more room for lighting and sound equipment inside the ACO and ATYP performance spaces, increasing the usable space.
The roof was also raised in common areas to allow space to install the major equipment for services including air-conditioning and water heating.
To lessen the extent of exposed ductwork on the roof, large open air rooms were constructed in the major plant rooms with custom perforated roof sheets to match the existing roof profile and colour to allow air in to and out of the building for air conditioning.
Retractable seating banks have been installed in the ACO and Bell Shakespeare performance spaces to allow for multiple seating configurations for flexibility in performances.
The design has considered the operational needs of theatre staff.
Within the ATYP theatre a wire mesh ‘floor’ has been installed above the performance space to allow complex rigging and lighting setups and improve safety.