Celebration of a rich maritime heritage

A NEW steel product will give the much-anticipated Fremantle Maritime Museum some of the most recognisable curves in the State.

Modelled on the shape of an upturned hull, the frame of $35 million museum is built from BHP’s Lysaght Lytcurve steel purlins, the same product used to give the Sydney Olympic Velodrome its distinctive helmet-like shape.

This is the first time the Lytcurve steel has been used in WA.

BHP Building Products account manager Ray Dickinson said the steel, which was curved to specifications before being delivered to the site, was ideal for the project.

“The architects (Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland) had initially considered on-site spring curving, but this has the undesirable effect of the purlins applying lateral pressures to the structure,” Mr Dickinson said.

The success of the Dune Grey Velodrome, however, prompted the architects to consider the BHP product.

“We have since supplied a total of 43 tonnes of purlins for the museum project … all curved to differing radii, pre punched and cut to length,” Mr Dickinson said.

The new museum, expected to open in 2002, will have a large exhibition space to house a number of exhibits, including the America’s Cup-winning yacht Australia II, along with three thematic exhibition spaces and a section for travelling exhibitions.

Project director Steve Woodland said the vision of the new museum was one based on the maritime history of Fremantle.

“It will be a place containing a fantastic array of human experiences relating the tales of WA’s rich maritime heritage,” Mr Woodland said.

And in bringing in the thousands of expected visitors, the museum also will be the catalyst to the redevelopment of Fremantle’s lacklustre west end, according to Fremantle Chamber of Commerce executive director John Longley.

“At the moment our biggest attraction is a coffee cup, and you can’t just have that, you must have some other thing for people to do,” Mr Longley said.

“What this will do is bring a renewed focus to the seaside … and draw people through the streets of the west end. The whole area will then start to flourish.

“Obviously the museum alone is going to provide a good deal of employment but there will be many flow-on benefits to businesses in the area.”

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