The White Bay Cruise Terminal won the 2014 National COLORBOND Award for Steel Architecture at the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Architecture Awards in Darwin. The project also won the Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture.

Designed by Johnson Pilton Walker architects, the building features a roof structure of curved tubular steel trusses and purlins from BlueScope steel. The architects also used an existing 1960s steel gantry crane at the former port site on Sydney Harbour and incorporated it into the new building, draping its metal roof from the gantry structure.

The architects worked with structural engineers on the roof structure consisting of BlueScope steel curved tubular trusses and purlins, which span the gantry columns, with the roof sheeting suspended below them. The simple and elegant roof provides an extremely flexible and large column-free space internally, with all of the building's inner workings contained in pod-like structures.

Visually, the ARAMAX FreeSpan profile roof made from aluminium appears as a random, asymmetric wave, but offers a high level of functionality with thermal and acoustical characteristics as well as fire resistance.

Johnson Pilton Walker architects director Paul van Ratingen said that the award recognises their humble pursuit and interest in using simply detailed and low-cost components to achieve a very beautiful and economical structure that resolves a complex performance brief. Describing the structure as appropriate to the place, its heritage and its tough environment, he explains that the contrast of re-used and new steel components helps tell the story of the evolving place.

Congratulating the architects on receiving the prestigious architectural award, BlueScope marketing manager - Coated and Industrial Products, Gregory Moffitt said that the project demonstrated the clarity that can be achieved by the direct and detailed use of steel, and described the re-use of the existing steel skeleton as a particularly clever architectural device.

The Australian Institute of Architects Awards Jury noted that the steel structure represented bold engineering beautifully integrated with refined architecture.

"The massive 300 metre-long twin steel frames that supported the gantry cranes of the former container shed define this project. Elegant steel trusses span between the old beams to suspend a series of curved tubular steel ribs below. The ribs in turn support the sinuous, wave-like form of the ARAMAX FreeSpan-clad roof. New elements work seamlessly with the old, each clearly expressed and articulated.

"The suspended roof sails gracefully in a clear span along the length of the terminal building. Full-height glass walls line three sides, with the view south over the harbour framed by the steel gantry border.

"The original steel structure has been left weathered with the scars of age. It contrasts with the clean finish of the new steelwork and the glow of the Aramax FreeSpan. Light and shadow play on the whole structure with rich effect.

"The project is exhilarating, confident and joyful, a great new asset to Sydney's shoreline."

Images: Brett Boardman