Reflective Pavilion

Set against Canberra's rolling landscape, the National Arboretum's Margaret Whitlam Pavilion, designed by Tonkin Zulaika Greer, establishes a striking contrast with its distinct curvature. The pavilion serves as a hub for the arboretum's various activities.The unique form of the building, curved in both plan and elevation, necessitated a specialised construction methodology that leveraged advanced modelling tools to ensure surface continuity. The project's complexity was further intensified by a rigorous schedule that limited on-site work.

AR-MA designed a steel unitised system, factory-constructed in Sydney, zinc-clad in Canberra, and prepped for installation. We rationalised the intricate facade geometry into a series of planar mega-panels, designed to produce the desired curvature across the building's length. The model we created served as a digital prototype for designing and manufacturing all components.

The arrangement of the standing seam zinc cladding held paramount importance. It was crucial to stagger the zinc seams to prevent unintentional alignment across adjacent panels. To achieve this, we modelled each zinc panel individually, using the model to generate precise cutting files and installation instructions. We also implemented logistical controls to track each element through the fabrication, assembly, and installation processes.

AR-MA's dedication to advanced design and construction techniques facilitated the realisation of the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion's complex geometry in a time-efficient manner. We successfully met the design's aesthetic standards and provided a timely solution to a delayed program. The on-site assembly of the roof structure and cladding was completed in a mere two days, following factory production and transportation.

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  • Tonkin Zulaika Greer
John Gollings