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B Shed, Fremantle (1902, 1926)

A former cargo shed is now a contemporary ferry terminal catering for an estimated 200,000 ferry passengers.

The adaptation of the B shed was part of the revitalisation of Fremantle’s Victoria Quay.

Located at the western end of the Quay, the 101m long and 21m wide shed presented itself as the ideal building for the new ferry terminal, café and home to the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation.

The B Shed was originally constructed in 1902 of Karri and Oregon timber and rebuilt in 1925-26. At the time, its cutting-edge facilities included electric hoists that could lift up to five tonnes and rolling shutters to provide ventilation for perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables.

B Shed has since been adapted for various uses including an ABC broadcasting centre during the American’s Cup defence in 1987, a maritime museum, and a vintage car museum.

Works in this most recent transformation included conservation and restoration of the building’s exterior and reconstruction of original elements like large timber sliding doors. Paint scrapings were taken to establish the original paint colours and the building totally repainted to an early colour scheme.

A series of self-contained single and two storey ‘pods’ made from modern materials were placed within the structure so as not to compromise the integrity of the original building fabric.

The juxtaposition of the selected colours and the new brightly coloured pods creates a greater sense of awareness and distinction between the old and new building fabrics.

Interpretation of the historical uses of the B Shed and the adjacent berth was an important part of this project. This was achieved through the installation of contemporary windows, glass panels and ceramic mosaic murals featuring historical photos of activities occurring in and around the B Shed.

In addition, two cut-outs were created in the deck over the water to allow patrons to view the original wharf structures, with information provided on the history and design of the wharf construction.

This project has achieved much-needed facilities for ferry operators and their passengers while maintaining the integrity of the building and interpreting aspects of the port’s rich heritage. 

Through adaptation, this iconic heritage place has been opened up for the benefit of locals and visitors alike.

In 2011 the B shed won the Western Australian Heritage Award for Excellence in Adaptive Reuse: The Gerry Gauntlett Award. The Heritage Award judges said it was a stunning project that demonstrates all aspects of adaptation – conservation, clever design, fit for purpose and fulfils a need.

Read more about the B Shed by downloading the Register Entry and Assessment Documentation.
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