Remember Peter Carey’s novel Oscar and Lucinda in which Oscar floats a glass church from Sydney to Bellingen? Well, Hobart architect Robert Morris-Nunn and naval architect Fred Barrett won their bet to do much the same down the River Derwent. The Brooke St Pier is an innovative new structure, one that is both a building and a boat; a floating 4,300 tonne concrete pontoon on which is constructed 3 floors of lightweight superstructure. It represents a significant advance in creating practical solutions to constructing over the water, and indeed, on the water, as this structure does not need to be connected to the land at all. Like a boat, it is completely self-sufficient and it carries on board all the services and systems it needs to provide a habitable environment. The pier’s superstructure has been kept as light as possible so that its centre of gravity is below the waterline. The pier also rises and falls with the tide, so it is anchored to the seabed with triangulated stretching cables fixed to the pontoon. This project is the purest expression of a wide-ranging collaboration between architects, engineers, builders and extremely passionate clients/operators. Brooke St is a significant step in the ongoing transformation of the old port facilities into an active urban civic precinct, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the evolving life of Hobart’s waterfront. It is simply ‘transformational’ and ground breaking.

Address: Franklin Wharf, Hobart

Open: 10am-4pm, Saturday 5 November

Highlights: Floating building, basement, innovative heating and cooling system

Tours: Pre-booked tours 1pm, 2pm (30 mins). Bookings essential

Building specs: Type: Pier, Built: 2014, Architect: Circa Morris-Nunn

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