Controversial toilet block at HMAS Sydney II Memorial in Geraldton set for compromise

Francesca MannThe West Australian
An impression of the concept design, up for deliberation tonight, for public facilities at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial.
Camera IconAn impression of the concept design, up for deliberation tonight, for public facilities at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial. Credit: Smith Sculptors

Geraldton councillors will tonight consider a compromise on controversial plans for a toilet block at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial.

In 2017, the City of Greater Geraldton rejected a design by Smith Sculptors, which carried a council-estimated price tag of $1.1 million and approved a design by Eastman Poletti Sherwood Architects, estimated to cost $304,900.

But the cheaper proposal sparked a widespread backlash, with Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson describing it as a “cookie-cutter” design that did not suit a commemorative site of national significance.

It was also rejected by the HMAS Sydney II Memorial Advisory Committee.

An artist impression of the concept design for a visitor guide facility and communal space at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial.
Camera IconAn artist impression of the concept design for a visitor guide facility and communal space at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial. Credit: Smith Sculptors

Councillors will tonight consider revoking their approval for the Eastman Poletti Sherwood Architects design and look at approving an alternative by Smith Sculptors, who designed the memorial itself.

Temporary toilet facilities have been set up at the memorial during peak times.

Smith Sculptors’ original design was to embed the facility into the hillside of Mt Scott and include not only toilets but also an interpretive entrance space and storage area.

The new design now up for deliberation has similarities to the Eastman Poletti Sherwood Architects design — both recommend constructing the ablution block at the top of the carpark.

Smith Sculptors original concept design, estimated to cost $1.2 million, proposed embedding the public facilities into the hillside of Mt Scott.
Camera IconSmith Sculptors original concept design, estimated to cost $1.2 million, proposed embedding the public facilities into the hillside of Mt Scott. Credit: Smith Sculptors

However, the new toilet design, estimated to cost $348,000, doubles the number of stalls to eight and includes a bigger storeroom area. It also proposes another $1.3 million building to be set into the hill to incorporate communal space and a visitor guide facility.

The cost of the toilets would be covered by the council as part of their capital works budget for 2019-20. The second building, however, would need to be funded externally and if the design is approved, the council would seek other sources of funds.

HMAS Sydney II Memorial warden Don Rolston said the proposal was a “good outcome”.

“It’s a common sense approach to what is an important issue,” he said.

“Its appearance fits in with the memorial — the side walls with the waves on it and the ship’s bow in the design. It’s doing justice to what the memorial stands for.”

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