The BENCHMARK Evolution range by Kingspan Insulated Panels was specified for the facade of the new Action Stations extension at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

Housed in the Warships Pavilion at the Museum, the Action Stations extension, completed in 2015 to mark the centenary of World War I, provides an exciting way for visitors to experience the compelling history of the Royal Australian Navy. The design brief required the building to be both striking and functional, while bringing the narratives of maritime war to life.

Architecture firm Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmtstudio) was given a project brief for a building that made an architectural statement, yet did not overpower the vessels adjacent and integral to the Warships Pavilion. The development of the Pavilion’s form created an opportunity to provide transparency on both sides of the building, enabling glimpses of the vessels through the building where possible.

The form was inspired by the techniques and geometrical rigor of boat building while the conceptual approach closely referenced the wake of a boat as it passes though the water. Kingspan’s BENCHMARK Evolution panels provided a finished internal and external surface.

The project required 891 square metres of wall panels that would be slim enough to maximise the useable internal space while maintaining thermal resistance values. The building’s location on Darling Harbour necessitated the exterior to be weather-proof and deliver continuity of colour despite the harbour-side environmental conditions.

The BENCHMARK wall panels were specified for their durability and ability to span a long distance, eliminating any possibility of unsightly horizontal joints on the facade. They also allowed modularity and repetition in the installation, providing a single facade component with internal lining, insulation, and external lining.

The building’s design required a bespoke approach and flat panels that could be installed quickly to minimise costs. Architects fjmtstudio and specialist subcontractors JML Engineered Facades (NSW) developed custom vertical joint details, and worked closely with Kingspan for its unique technical service in terms of detailing support to realise the intended complexity of the design. The extended thermal, structural and paint coating warranties were also a strong consideration in the selection of this product.

The pavilion facade was generated as a series of complex geometrical rotations of one-metre wide panels, which were sized to maintain the efficient use of the standard width of Kingspan Insulated Panels. The biggest challenge was using Kingspan to create these complex geometries of the facade while maintaining a watertight external skin at the joint intervals. An added complexity came from a glass oculus comprising of one-metre wide panels of glass, which was integrated and continued the geometry of the Kingspan facade.

Each BENCHMARK panel was locally manufactured and built to specification, facilitating fast installation, lower costs and less waste. The panels’ inbuilt insulation also enabled efficient installation, while delivering high thermal performance, lifetime insulation continuity and certainty of an airtight finish.

Kingspan’s ongoing technical support and pre-installation training, as well as supervision on request, ensured the project was completed successfully.