Building Works FAQ
Fraser Coast Regional Council is currently working on essential building remediation and renewal works to ensure that this much-loved cultural asset will be available for our community and visitors to enjoy well into the future.
In late February 2020, the Fraser Coast Cultural Centre, which encompassed the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery and Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere, was closed to the public due to a complex combination of building failures crucially involving environmental systems including the roofing, air-conditioning and climate control. (Climate control refers specifically to temperature, humidity and air filtration.)
As a result, the building experienced water ingress and serious mould contamination. The building has since undergone a complete remediation clean with contaminated objects, furniture and building materials removed.
After initial investigations were untaken it was evident that a series of specialist reports were necessary to develop a full understanding of the issues and the scope of works required to resolve and restore optimal system operations.
Reports from mechanical engineers and building services specialists in relation to recommendations for climate control expansion and system improvements have been received and noted.
Concurrently, a number of building modifications are required to alleviate pressure on the HVAC system (see below).
While the building appears seamless and streamlined, it is nevertheless highly technical behind the scenes. Due to their specific functional requirements around environmental control, most contemporary museums and galleries by their very nature are high-performance buildings.
The process of fully understanding the current issues, along with addressing the future needs of the building has been detailed and stepped.
This level of detailed attention to internal environment conditions is of critical importance to ensure the operational status of the building as a gallery meeting best practice national standards. These standards are required for proper conservation, insurance purposes and the hosting of touring exhibitions.
The context of the covid-19 pandemic has also presented supply chain challenges.
Additionally, due to the extent of the required works, the opportunity has been taken to address existing operational concerns around the configuration of the interior spaces including access, galleries, amenities and storage.
The opening of the building is contingent on the completion of building works. This currently involves a tendering process. While we are aiming for the end of the year, the date is yet to be confirmed.
HVAC is an acronym that stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning technology.
In a gallery setting, HVAC is required to provide not only comfort and acceptable indoor air quality for people, but also to retain a very consistent level of stable environmental conditions of air quality for the safety and preservation of artworks and objects on display or in storage within the building.
While a primary purpose of a Regional Gallery is to make artworks accessible to the public through exhibitions and display, a secondary purpose is to ensure long-term safety and preservation of the collection and artworks on loan.
A complicating factor in the equation is that artworks need one set of conditions while people need another. Managing appropriate environmental conditions requires expert input around temperature, humidity, air filtration and noise levels.
The Discovery Sphere was adversely affected by the problems which beset the Gallery from the building system failures. Some objects along with surrounding walls, for example, were contaminated by mould and extensive remedial work was required in the space.
As a result of this the decision was taken to dismantle the display. Other contributing factors included: the exhibition had not been updated since its opening in 2012 and required significant upgrades; and the division of the space and static nature of the displays created limited visitor pathways and exhibition opportunities.
It is acknowledged that the themes previously interpreted within this exhibition space including Butchulla Cultural Heritage and Natural Heritage remain important and will be addressed in future programming allowing improved engagement and flexibility.
On first view it may seem that there are no apparent changes to the building, at least from an external viewpoint, as all work has occurred within the existing footprint of the building. There are no external extensions or obvious alterations.
Rather, much of the work, especially that focussing on the building services and support systems, has happened within the ‘invisible fabric’ of the building. And other changes such as an improved collections storage area, upgraded loading and delivery services and exhibition preparation areas occupy ‘behind the scenes’ parts of the Gallery.
The changes that will be evident within the public facing areas of the building will include:
- improved building entry – a much needed additional public entry point will be created at the carpark end of the Gallery allowing easier access. Both entry points will be converted to airlock systems to support the efficiency of the HVAC system.
- with the decommissioning of the Discovery Sphere, additional gallery space has been created. With the opening up of this space, the circulation pathway to the adjoining previously designated theatrette space also has been improved. This space will now function as a smaller focus gallery with the capacity for projected visual and/or sound works.
- Planning for improved amenities at the site including a potential coffee shop and improved retail area.
The remediation and repair works are an insurance claim.
The refurbishment of the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery is a joint initiative of Council and the Queensland Government with $400,000 from the State Government’s COVID Works for Queensland program provided to undertake the works.
The venue will re-open as the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery. Operations have been consolidated under this single brand identity.
Extensive community consultation around the brand re-development occurred in 2020. Stakeholders included Fraser Coast Councillors, key Council staff, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery Consultative Group, Indigenous community representatives group, and Hervey Bay Regional Gallery volunteer representatives.
The new branding will be introduced as we move closer to opening.
The Gallery team will include two newly recruited positions: an Exhibitions and Public Programs Officer and a Public Art and Collections Officer to support the Curator and Cultural Services team by providing specialist skills. This team will be supplemented by welcoming back and re-establishing our valued volunteer group.