Category : Conservation
Client : University of Sydney
Location : Faculty of Veterinary Science, Roundhouse, Parramatta Rd, Sydney
Description : Constructed in 1921 and originally called an observation box, the Veterinary Science Roundhouse was designed by the University's first professor of architecture, Leslie Wilkinson. It's intended uses were horse accommodation and the study of large animals. The building had some restorative works done in the 1970s but was already in urgent need of repair and a team of Heritage builders and architects were enlisted for the task. 

Key challenges : We undertook a detailed investigation of the building's structure so that we could determine the best course of action for the repairs and conservation of materials. A new shingle roof had been put on in the 1970s but it had deteriorated beyond its use and it was not an accurate copy of the original 1921 hand cut shake roof. We stripped the roof and examined the batten spacing and section size to determine the original shake dimensions. We then began the difficult task of sourcing the correct species of timber from a sustainable provider. The original wood used was Forest oak. The logs were cut into rounds, then billets and from these, approximately 10,000 hand cut shakes were split. This was a time-consuming laborious task, but the end result was wonderful – 10,000 froe and maul cut shakes ready for use on-site. 

The building had experienced some movement and minor shifts in structural members had occurred in the wall and roof framing. In line with Burra Charter guidelines and client consultation the specialist team decided to support and strengthen the structure in its current position. This was achieved by making necessary repairs to load-bearing timber members and installing steel brackets to stabilise the building. Our desire was to conserve the building's appearance, to reflect its age and maturity and to retain its existing patina. Internally we discovered loose timber sections with checkouts, fitted brackets and hook fixings. These led us to believe that there had been an additional structure within the pit area. We were able to ascertain, from markings on the bottom chord of trusses, pit walls and floor, that there had been a horse crush to lock animals in position during lectures. This too has been restored and refitted to its original position. 

Completed : 2010