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Rottnest Island WWII Defence Establishment

The heritage-listed Defence Establishment was an Army base in World War II, and includes bunkers and gun emplacements, plotting rooms, observational towers, magazine and ammunition stores.

Project challenges:
The buildings were in a poor state of repair and accessible to public, so preservation and public safety were key considerations for this project. WGE’s structural team were appointed as heritage advisor, project engineers and contract superintendent.

Structural solution:
To preserve and refurbish the building fabric, with minimal intervention approach (consistent with the Burra charter – guidance for heritage works) a program of steel treatment, concrete repair, glass replacement and masonry refurbishment was carried out.

A set of big steel doors that had seized up were reinstated with a coating applied to the steel to preserve it while maintaining the original painted signage. Significant concrete refurbishment was required as crumbling concrete and rusting steel reinforcement was a risk to public safety. The team undertook concrete refurbishment by priming the steel reinforcement, repairing mortar and applying chloride resistant migrating protection.

The success of the project was achieved through a sensitive engineering approach balanced with the need for safety and risk reduction. WGE’s role required specific and extensive product knowledge – to understand interactions between the different solutions and products that were utilised.

The project was awarded the 2014 Heritage Award for Outstanding Conservation of a Non-Residential Place for the Rottnest Island WWII Defence Establishment.

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