FDC Completes Restoration and Rebuilding Works of Iconic Sydney Landmark White Bay Power Station.

The heritage site to become a key arts and culture hub, opening its doors to visitors for the first time in 40 years.

White Bay Power Station – The Boiler House (©Toby Peet)

Award-winning builder FDC has completed its restoration and rebuilding works of New South Wales State heritage-listed White Bay Power Station (WBPS). The landmark site located in Sydney’s inner western suburb of Rozelle, will open its doors for the first time in 40 years to visitors, as it makes its debut as a cornerstone location for the upcoming 24th Biennale of Sydney.

The rejuvenation of the expansive 30,000m2 site was awarded by Placemaking NSW to FDC, who commenced work on the project in 2022. The vision was to create a versatile arts, cultural and community hub – bringing new energy to Sydney’s cultural offering. WBPS adds to FDC’s expanding portfolio of significant arts and culture projects in Sydney including most recently Phoenix Central Park, Chau Chak Museum, Artspace – The Gunnery and the completion of the Arts Maintenance Upgrade – delivering the National Arts School, upgrades to the Roslyn Packer Theatre and fashion-week staple Carriageworks,

Partners in Reinvigorating Sydney’s Arts & Culture Sites

“We have increasingly become trusted partners in preserving and reimagining several of Sydney’s iconic arts and culture sites including Chau Chak Wing Museum, Phoenix Central Park and Artspace – The Gunnery. It is testament to the team’s skill and extensive experience to deliver on complex projects which is especially crucial on sites with heritage elements,” says FDC Managing Director Russell Grady.

“White Bay Power Station has been a once-in-a-lifetime project for many on our team. With any heritage-site, and without that vital building blueprint to guide us, it required a high level of agility and creative problem-solving skills to address the many challenges in bringing the massive site to life. I believe the quality of the project speaks volumes of our team’s dedication to the revitalised site, and we look forward to having visitors rediscover this significant Sydney landmark.”

White Bay Power Station’s Journey to Restoration

Constructed in 1917, WBPS is Sydney’s longest serving metropolitan power station and was built to power the city’s tram system, later the train system, and then the electricity grid in 1958. Forty years ago in 1984, the site was decommissioned and has laid dormant since with its status as heritage-listed cemented in 1999.

When FDC kicked off the restoration of WBPS, the first phase of the project saw the team embark on a journey of discovery – and this was in part due to the undocumented history of the collection of buildings onsite, with no blueprint to assist and inform remediation.

“WBPS spent years mostly untouched, and this meant the team was uncovering rooms and spaces that hadn’t seen the light of day for decades,” says FDC Operations Manager Ben Dircks.

“The basement, for example, had 40 years of rainwater collected and we therefore had to pump out 1.2 million litres of contaminated water before we could go down to the foundations and figure out what needed to be done.”

The vast height and interior of the buildings required 3,600 tonnes of scaffolding to secure the space prior to construction, granting the FDC and the wider consultant team access to areas on site that had not been accessed for decades.

“Every day was different. And we would discover new things about the building, adapt and have to be extremely innovative about how we would deal with many unforeseen structural challenges.  It really gave us a sense of the people who built it 100 years ago – just admiration for their craftsmanship and ability to create such an impressive structure without modern day construction tools.”

Uncovering White Power Bay Station’s Design Elements*

To ensure all steps were taken to preserve heritage elements of WBPS, FDC collaborated with the expertise of heritage architecture firm Design 5 who had been working on the site for almost 16 years.

The conservation measures undertaken included storing and cataloguing heritage items uncovered on site, reinstating heritage items, preserving machinery and structures from when the power station was functioning, and providing urgent structural and conservation support to existing heritage protected fabrics.

One of the key spaces preserved is The Boilerhouse, the largest structure at WBPS. Cutting across Rozelle’s skyline at 45 metres in height – equivalent to 11 floors – the FDC team undertook extensive structural steel remediation and metalwork repairs, addressed the crumbling brick masonry by both retaining the 100-year-old bricks where possible and reinforcing with new bricks, and created new staircases and balustrades to encourage discovery, exploration and engagement within the historic space.

Commitment to Sydney’s Arts & Culture Future

With over 600,000-man hours invested into the WBPS project, FDC continues its commitment and desire to play a vital role in supporting and growing Australia’s arts and culture community as future partnerships and projects are set to take place later this year.

White Bay Power Station – Chimneys (©Toby Peet)

White Bay Power Station – The Boiler House (©Toby Peet)

White Bay Power Station – Chimneys (©Toby Peet)

About FDC

FDC is a leading building delivery partner across Australia with an annual turnover of circa $1.5 billion. They employ over 600 people, hold a reputable client and project delivery reputation and industry leading NPS rate of 75. They have been acknowledged with over 110 MBA awards including being awarded – Most Awarded Builder in NSW 2023.


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