There is no denying that the core of Australia’s history can be found in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle and surrounds. From the Australian Parliament House, to the National Gallery, Royal Australian Mint, War Memorial, Portrait Gallery, National Library and Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, these cultural institutions tell the story of Australia.
Manteena has had the privilege of working within all of these institutions across a number of years to continue to preserve and restore the history these buildings hold, and we are immensely proud of our role in helping to develop the “heart” of Australia.
At present, Manteena Commercial are working in the National Library to replace the copper roof and upgrade the HVAC systems. Manteena Security are working across Australian Parliament House (where we have had a near continuous presence since the building opened in 1988), the Royal Australian Mint and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House to continue to upgrade and repair the buildings. Prior to that, Manteena completed major projects within the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Australian War Memorial.
The historical significance of these locations is the key source of awe, pride and intrigue among the Manteena team.
Dylan Paraga (Project Manager) has been working from Old Parliament House since the beginning of 2022 and highlights the vast number of events that have taken place in the building over Australia’s modern history. “There are few facades that are more iconic than the Old Parliament House main entrance. It’s a unique experience to be involved in the repair of the building that has been the stage for such memorable moments in our national history, such as Gough Whitlam’s “God Save the Queen” speech following his dismissal in 1975, delivered atop the Old Parliament House front stairs.”
“For me, it is an absolute source of pride to work at OPH, especially being a part of projects which help to teach or exhibit the importance of the Parliament in Australia’s History. Working with the other teams (MoAD, AEC and the conservators) who are so devoted to this building has been an awe-inspiring experience,” says Sophia Sako (Project Administrator).
While the Manteena team are no strangers to complex engineering and construction, the added tier of heritage conservation across these sites has challenged our teams in new ways. Careful consideration has had to go into the planning and execution of projects, with added requirements for protection when scaffolding, ladders and other equipment is required.
The Fire Remediation and Senate Roof Replacement projects at Old Parliament House have had our team working with a range of conservators including; International Conservation Services, Celia Cramer Conservation and Conservation Work Pty Ltd. The focus on preservation, conservation and restoration has been at the forefront of the project plan and program, with each of these conservators holding specialist skills and experience with different elements of the building.
Similarly, Site Supervisor Sam Allen has been working at Old Parliament House on an exhibition expected to open later this year. In fitting out the space for the exhibition he says, “we worked in consultation with the client, MoAD Heritage and a heritage architect to successfully complete the fitout and protect the heritage features of the building. We needed to create a sub floor on top of the heritage floor to run cabling through, and frame the windows with a special frame with rubber feet to protect the heritage timber. Everything is done with a heritage focus to ensure the building is protected and preserved while experiences are improved for the public.”
The added intricacies of working in live museums and public thoroughfares adds an additional level of planning and consideration to the project programs that is not often experienced on other construction sites.
‘I have had the opportunity to work in several Parliamentary Triangle buildings over the last four years with Manteena. There are complexities in running these projects as they must remain active (wherever possible) to provide their primary function as a Public Building.’
Solutions also need to be found to deal with legacy issues (many of which are emergent), working within Heritage requirements, understanding Internal Stakeholder priorities and requirements, and gaining Approvals from the National Capital Authority.” says Paul Cresswell, Project Manager for the National Library Roof Replacement Project. “The NLA Reroofing Project is a once in a generation opportunity to provide quality modernisation, rectify problematic areas, and remove hazardous material from the roof system.
Whilst maintaining the integrity of the Heritage Building, the project is designed to deliver better than original performance, increase the durability and lifespan of the roof system, providing ongoing protection of the Collection, and provide better amenity for those using the building.”
As history continues to unfold within these iconic buildings, we are proud to be a part of the conservation, preservation and educational efforts which allow these institutions to continue to tell the story of Australia.