Willoughby Incinerator

Willoughby NSW Australia
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The Griffin Willoughby Incinerator, completed in 1934, is a remarkable piece of early Australian Industrial heritage.  Designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Eric Nicholls, the building is sited at the edge of what is now the Willoughby Centennial Parklands. The building terminated incineration in 1967 and lay dormant until undergoing adaptive reuse works in the early 1980’s to convert the building first into a restaurant and then a small office building.  Vandals, fire, a lightning strike (that forced the removal of the ornate chimney top) and series of unsympathetic additions all badly damaged the original fabric of the building. In 2006 SJB and Godden Mackay Logan were appointed by Willoughby Council to prepare documentation for the adaptive reuse of the badly damaged and maligned building. No ‘as built’ drawings were ever completed, so the building was 3D modelled from old photographs and very limited original architectural.  This initial phase of ‘CSI Architecture’ enabled a clearer understanding of the original building, including what potentially lay beneath the additions made in the 1980’s renovations.

Importantly the modelling of the building enabled the clear and concise communication of the buildings potential to a huge variety of stakeholders; Walter Burley Griffin Historical Society, NSW Heritage Council, Local Community, Client, Council Officers, Councillors, Consultants and the Builder appointed for the demolition and rectification works. The building rectification works have been a long, arduous and expensive task.  Significant concrete cancer has seen the replacement of much of the built fabric while the reinstatement of the original chimney has given the building back a sense of scale.  The building is now home to an ‘artist in residence’ studio, a community gallery space and a café and community meeting place.  The incorporation of a lift to enable equitable access to the building included the commissioning of Artist Richard Goodwin for a sculpture to cloak the lift structure, kicking off the public acquisition program for what will become a public sculpture park. This is an on going project that will see this small civic building spread it tentacles into the surrounding park land as funds become available and public will loud enough.

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