Civic Centre fly tower revamp

FLY TOWER UPGRADE BEGINS: Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre manager Frank Morello, Dycer Constructions managing director Chris Dycer and Mount Gambier City Council regulatory services manager Michael Silvy on site at the Civic Centre, where the construction of scaffolding is nearly complete, ahead of a $1.3m refurbishment project.

AFTER a decade of patching, painting and repairing the deteriorating facade of the Civic Centre fly tower, a long term solution is under way.

The construction of enormous scaffolding at the Watson Terrace site is nearing completion, ahead of $1.3 million external renovations – a joint refurbishment project between Mount Gambier City Council and Country Arts SA.

Constructed in the 1980s, City Council regulatory services manager Michael Silvy said the building was in dire need of innovative construction to prevent further weather damage to the existing cladding.

“The Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) panels are stacked on top of each other and to remove them you need to lift them out one by one from above,” Mr Silvy explained.

“It’s a very complex job as it’s a long way up in the air and you are reaching out over an existing building.

“After much deliberation, we decided to leave the panels in place and cover them with a new waterproof feature ‘skin.'”

Zinc panels fixed to a steel and plywood frame will cover the existing tiles.

To install the European facade system of interlocking panels, an elaborate scaffold was constructed in consultation with Dycer Constructions.

“We found during the scaffolding process that we needed a series of props inside the building to support some loads on the existing roof of the Civic Centre below,” Mr Silvy said.

“What we’re doing at the moment is constructing a safe stage to stand on to do the work on the fly tower.

“A steel structure will be constructed around the facade as it is and then substrate plywood will be fixed on and waterproofed.

“The decorative skin made up of Adeka tiles will then be installed as a randomised coloured mosaic on all faces of the building, except for the western wall which will feature a silhouette design of Sir Robert Helpmann.”

Country Arts SA chief executive Steve Saffell said he was looking forward to seeing the installation of the 12 x 13 metre silhouette of the theatre’s namesake, designed by Chapman Herbert Architects.

“I think it’s going to be a massive improvement and what a fantastic and fitting way to reimagine the building,” Mr Saffell said.

“If anyone had any doubts as to where the theatre is located as they drive in to town, they won’t after they see this.”

The tiling is expected to begin within a few weeks and take around 10 weeks to complete.

“It’s certainly going to make the fly tower section of the building quite iconic,” Mr Silvy said.

“It is a bit artistic, it’s modernising it and giving it a new lease of life for another 30 to 40 years.”

Mount Gambier City Council will continue to work closely with Country Arts SA and contractors to ensure the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre remains open to the public with as little inconvenience as possible during the refurbishment process.

“Contractors are working hard to keep the disturbance to a minimum and ensure the use of the theatre is maintained,” Mr Silvy said.

The roof of the fly tower is also being replaced during the redevelopment process.

Work is expected to be completed by late July, weather permitting.