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Police Operations Support Facility, Midland (1904-1912)

What was once a non-descript railway workshop has been revitalised into a state-of-the-art operational support facility for the Western Australian Police.

The transformation was part of the redevelopment of the Midland Railway Workshops, the most intact example of an early twentieth century railway workshop in Australia.

The Flanging Shop, built between 1904 and 1912, was one of the earliest brick buildings constructed within the precinct and contained a range of significant machinery, some of which remained operational until 1994.

The project team were inspired by the monolithic nature of the industrial brick forms, the huge volume of uninterrupted internal space, and the preservation of a unique part of Western Australia’s history.

The design concept involved the insertion of a contemporary building structure into the existing building shell, leaving the face brickwork, fabricated steel columns, roof trusses, glazing and selected machinery intact. The new built form is intentionally skeletal in form, featuring exposed steel columns and beams with aluminium and glass infill panels.

These new structural steel connections purposefully contrast with the riveted and bolted framework by using contemporary fabrication and assembly techniques. The walls are canted in form and of contrasting colours to intentionally accentuate the heritage fabric.

Among the many challenges were the removal of site contamination and the installation of the new below ground services. The new structure was also built around significant machinery, including furnaces and steam presses that were required to be maintained insitu and interpreted.

According to the project team, the conservation of the existing structure might not have generated monetary savings however, it resulted in a unique design solution which was of far greater value overall than a complete new build would have achieved.

The WA Police Operations Support Facility – Traffic Operations won the 2010 Western Australian Heritage Award for Excellence in Adaptive Reuse: The Gerry Gauntlett Award.

The Heritage Award judges said the project team had turned a redundant industrial building into a modern purpose-built facility for the WA Police, successfully complimenting the significant heritage fabric of the building, including its machinery, with a new and contemporary aesthetic building within the existing structure.

Read more about Midland Railway Workshops by downloading the Register Entry and Assessment Documentation. 
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