The Brooke St Pier is a very innovative new structure, one that is both a building and a boat; an 80m long, 20m wide floating concrete pontoon, on which is constructed 3 floors of lightweight superstructure, all of which is now Hobart’s new ferry terminal.
The project represents a significant advance in creating a practical solution to building out over the water, and indeed, on the water, as this structure does not need to be connected to the land at all. The fundamental characteristic it shares with all maritime structures is that it floats, all 4,300 tonnes of it, and like a boat, it is completely self-sufficient in so far as it carries on board all the services and systems it needs to provide a habitable environment for those using it. By building a 4m deep floating concrete pontoon instead of hundreds of piers, considerable economies could be made over a traditional wharf, quite apart from creating a useful basement. The pier behaves like a boat, with the superstructure being kept as light as possible so that the structure’s centre of gravity is below the waterline. The structure also rises and falls with the tide, so it is anchored to the seabed with triangulated stretching ‘bungee’ cables that change their angle of thrust with the changing tide heights. The cladding of the ferry pier is made of lightweight polycarbonate ribs injected with insulating nanogel, creating a diaphanous skin, which visually compliments the significant environmentally sustainable engineering services within it – the pier ‘floats on concrete and runs on water’! And the skin lights up at night….an antipodean Brighton pier! This project is the purest expression of a wide-ranging successful collaboration between architects, engineers, builders and extremely passionate and perceptive clients, who challenged everyone in the most positive ways. It is also very important to us that the uses that the spaces within have a community dimension. With the pier, virtually one complete floor level is given over to a large local produce and product market, with 2 informal cafes in addition to an up-market bar and offices. The boarding level can become a function space for up to 1200 people outside the times when it is used by alighting ferry passengers.
These multifaceted uses will bring diverse activities and give vitality to the building / boat every day and night, throughout all seasons. Brooke St is a significant step in the ongoing transformation of the old port into an active urban civic precinct, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Hobart’s waterfront. We hope it will be loved and regularly used by both locals and tourists alike.