Mona Pharos in Tasmania has been named one of the best building projects in the country at the National Excellence in Building and Construction Awards in Adelaide. 

The project by Fairbrother Construction won the National Commercial/Industrial Award $20m - $50m.

The project consists of a standalone building connected to the existing world-renowned Museum of Old and New Art (Mona). The Pharos wing projects over 20 metres out over the River Derwent, as well as tunnelling back 30 metres into the Jurassic sandstone peninsula. The building houses custom-built spaces for large scale immersive artworks and the already nationally-acclaimed restaurant and over-water bar ‘Faros’.  

According to Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia, the unique proximity to the Derwent River and its integration with the existing museum made the Pharos a complex project and presented a number of challenges for the builders.

“The ambition, and consequent difficulty of this project is outrageous, yet Fairbrother Construction has found a way to achieve the desired outcome without compromise,” says Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia.

“It must be a difficult but utterly exhilarating experience to disappear into the MONA Pharos rabbit hole and emerge, blinking at the other end to find the work complete. As a visitor it is easy to be distracted from the sheer difficulty of the building tasks undertaken here, every part is unique and extremely difficult.”

The unique 30 metre tunnel built into the sandstone bank was made more difficult for the builders due to the desired diameter of the tunnel and minimal cover to the surface. The building’s proximity to the water required piling, the use of a sheet pile dam to excavate and install the sea wall and the use of barges to transport and install oversized, heavy and delicate building elements.

“If you only take a moment to consider the built components of the Pharos Building, there is not one that represents business as usual. Every part is random, unique and extremely difficult,” says Wawn.

“This outstanding project was completed in an inflexible 18-month program that needed to be maintained regardless of weather, design changes or challenges faced, in which there were many. Fairbrother Construction is to be congratulated on having achieved this outstanding end result.”