Jennifer Hill

Jennifer Hill

Abstract | St. Peters West Connect the Partial Relocation of the Rudders Bond Store

The West Connect route, a 33-kilometer motorway linking the M4 and M5 motorways for the first time required a tunnel between St. Peters and Beverly Hills with an interchange at St. Peters.

The required location of the interchange required the demolition of the of the former Ralph Symonds factory and partial relocation on the site. the whole of the site including the two buildings was listed as a local heritage item. "The Rudders Bond Store reflects an innovative form of construction for buildings requiring large spans for its time." (NSW Heritage Inventory. Last Updated: 30 April 2012).

The buildings at 53-57 Campbell St are among the best-preserved examples of large span glue-laminated arch construction for industrial building of the period. 
 They are rare as surviving products of post war experimental timber construction for large commercial and industrial buildings including.

  • Symonds Factory, 1 Bennelong Rd, Homebush Bay (RAIA NSW Register, Auburn LEP
  • National Motor Springs igloo building 52-54 O’Riordan St, Alexandria (1941) Sydney LEP
  • Former Burge Bros Factory, Flemington Vic. (1945-6): The Rudders Bond Store is a large warehouse building complex constructed in stages between 1946 and 1956.

The complex comprises two sheds of similar form and construction type, joined at right angles. The first shed (A) is 14 bays and 85m in length (but was originally 31 bays prior to its partial demolition in the 1990s). The second shed (B) is 24 bays and 146m in length. The Rudders Bond Store buildings are constructed using a three-pin foundation arch structural system. The arches are 31m in span, built of curved members (600x100mm) which are glue-laminated timber bonded together, presumably using casein glue. They are made up of approximately 28 layers of 1 inch timber bound together with adjustable straps (situated at 400-500mm centres). Bays between arch pairs are approximately 6m. Arches rest on concrete shoes.

It is illustrative of a significant period for experimental construction, adapting wartime technology and production techniques to post war economics and is a highly representative of the work of Ralph Symonds, experimental building pioneer. The large span timber structures designed for industrial production create a cathedral-like interior approx.12m high of impressive spatial character. Designed for natural daylighting the ribbon clearstory windows contribute to its interior character.

The use of large span three-pin arch construction is highly innovative and efficient technique adapted from war-time engineering development. The design objective for any reuse proposal should be to retain and enhance heritage values.

  • interior spatial integrity
  • long internal views
  • original configuration
  • internal structural fabric
  • the distinctive form of the envelope

From a heritage viewpoint, the most appropriate activities would be those that did not require substantial changes to the exterior or interior, such as:

  • Light industrial: storage, distribution or warehousing. These would represent a continuation of the historic uses and would be least likely to demand interior additions or alterations likely to impact on significance and are consistent with zoning regulations.
  • The retention of some of the structure was a positive outcome, although its retention insitu would have been preferred.
  • The heritage listing on the 2 buildings didn’t play a significant factor in the determination of the proposed route requiring its full demolition. Given that the importance and rarity of the structure was independent of its site and that full demolition of the structure was required its full relocation on another site would have been preferred to its partial relocation on the same site.

A different approach to the assessment of the heritage significance at an early stage that identified its significance as independent of the site may have flagged the full relocation option to another site which would have been preferable and feasible in the context of the government land ownership.

This would have provided a more sustainable outcome and a preferred heritage result. The review of the remaining 3 Ralph Symonds structures to tighten their heritage protection is now advisable.

Bio | Jennifer Hill

Jennifer Hill, Director of Architectural Projects, has completed a Bachelor of Architecture (First Class Honours) NSWIT and a Masters of Philosophy (Urban Design Renaissance Studies) at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Sydney. Her undergraduate thesis, ‘Spatial Complexity in Modern Architecture’, dealt with the architectural period between 1900 and 1930. Her postgraduate work dealt with urban design during the Italian Quattrocento. Her research has been recognised in awards from the University of Sydney, the New South Wales Board of Architects, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the University of Technology, Sydney. Jennifer Hill is a recipient of the Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship, the Nancy Keesing Fellowship, the Max Kelly Sydney Venice Fellowship 1998 and the RAIA Sisalation Scholarship 2003. The work of Architectural Projects has been recognised in awards since 1984. New Acton reconstruction is the recipient of the Australian Institute of Architects ACT – “Heritage Conservation and Interiors Award 2015”; Eccleston Park, Sutton Forest is the recipient of the Wingecarribee Heritage Award Conservation Category “Best Sympathetic Addition to a Heritage Place 2015” and Park House was shortlisted for the “Randwick Heritage Conservation and Adaptive Re-use 2015”.