Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Tealby
S 35° 17.004 E 149° 07.352
55H E 693029 N 6093462
Quick Description: A Canberra landmark since its construction in 1959 and the first building in Canberra to be included on the National Heritage List.
Location: Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Date Posted: 6/5/2007 3:00:42 AM
Waymark Code: WM1N1H
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Team Farkle 7
Views: 187

Long Description:
Extracted from the Australian Academy of Science website:
Some say it escaped from the X-Files; others think it draws its architectural inspiration from an early model Holden motor car. Many Canberrans refer to it as the 'Martian Embassy'! Completed in 1959 and reflecting some of the more adventurous architectural ideas of that time, the Shine Dome (previously known as Becker House) remains one of the most unusual buildings in Australia.

Walking across the curved bridge over the water-filled moat, you get the feeling you are approaching something not entirely of this Earth. The way the great dome – which is roof, walls and structure combined – dives down beneath the still water gives a sense that it is floating; even silently hovering, perhaps preparing to return to the far reaches of the galaxy, whence it came. From the walkway between the moat and the inner walls, the great 'scallops' or arches provide a 360° panoramic sequence of 16 views of the capital city. Framed as the views are, it is like walking around a gallery of virtual reality booths.

The radically different building created radically different problems for the architects and engineers involved. Some doubted it could be built. Nobody knew how to calculate the stresses created by a 45-ton concrete dome perched on 16 slender supports. This was vital, because if they got it wrong the whole dome might collapse when the building supports were taken away. In the end they grappled with the problem by building a one-fortieth scale model to see if it would work. Even then there were those who doubted that the real dome would behave like the model (which was made of fibre-glass and resin – not concrete).

But those who trusted the model were proved right. When they built the massive concrete dome and tentatively removed the forest of wooden formwork and supports, the top of the dome dropped less than a centimetre as it took its own weight. It was a triumph for those who worked on the calculations and the model, and a wonderful reward for those who had had the vision to see the project through.

The concrete roof of the dome is sheathed in copper – and under the copper is a layer of vermiculite which partly insulates the interior from outside temperatures. This provides a degree of thermal inertia and the temperature of the dome's underside is roughly an average of the outdoor temperature of the previous 24 hours.

Cost of building: £200,000 (£260,000 furnished/landscaped etc)
Area of building: 24,175 square feet

What's in a name??
The dome was completed in 1959, but by 1961 only £165,000 had been raised from donations to cover the costs. Then £100,000 was donated by J. E. Becker (hence the initial name of Becker House). A major renovation was subsequently carried out in 2000, supported in large part by a donation of one million dollars from Professor John Shine (hence the new name!).
Type of Structure: Building

Large Dome(s): yes

Boomerang and/or Arrow Shape(s): yes

Amoebae Shape(s): yes

Flying Saucer/Rocket Shape(s): yes

Physical Address:
Gordon Street
Canberra, ACT Australia
2600


Web Address or URL: [Web Link]

Upswept Roof / Folded Plate Roof(s): Not Listed

Large Sheet Glass Window(s): Not Listed

Atomic Model(s): Not Listed

Starburst(s): Not Listed

Exposed Steel Beam(s): Not Listed

If I knew, I'd be an architect: Not Listed

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