Lake Macquarie History

Binishell at Hunter Sports High School

In the 1970’s an Italian architect named Dante Bini introduced the New South Wales Public Works Department to the concept of ‘Binishells’; a dome shaped building constructed using discs of plastic and concrete that is ‘blown up’ and left to set. It was an invention of Dr Bini that was thought to be a quicker, more economical way to construct buildings for use in New South Wales schools. The construction of a Binishell takes approximately 3 weeks. Building begins with the laying of foundations, pouring of concrete in between two discs, inflating of the discs and waiting for the concrete to set before spraying with insulator foam and waterproofing the exterior. The job finishes with lining the interior with a noise reducing material and then furnishing appropriately.

photo: gateshead highschool binishell

In the late 1970s, Jennings Industries Limited negotiated a licensing agreement with Dr Dante Bini and the result was fifteen Binishells built across New South Wales high schools, twelve of which remain. Three of those left standing can be found in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie regions and are located in Broadmeadow at the Hunter School of Performing Arts, the Jesmond Campus of the Callaghan College, and at the Hunter Sports High School, Gateshead.

The Binishell at Jesmond appears to have been the earliest built in 1977 and seems to have been fitted out with under floor heating, followed by the Gateshead Binishell in 1978 and the Broadmeadow Binishell in 1979. Gateshead Binishell was constructed when the school was known as Gateshead High School, before it changed its name in 1997 to Hunter Sports High. The Binishell at Gateshead was in use as a multi-function centre, until its demolition in January 2016.

The Binishells were used for various purposes including swimming pool enclosures, multi-purpose centres, roller skating rinks, and shopping centres, although originally usage was limited to indoor sport and recreation areas, school halls and school libraries. Although thought to be ‘revolutionary’ and ‘futuristic’ at the time of development, Binishells have, in the past, come under scrutiny with reported collapses in structures found in some schools and other structural damage due to abnormal weather temperatures and poor materials . It was also reported that some students fainted due to the extreme heat that built up in the structures due to the lack of ventilation afforded by the small windows.

It was reported in October 2016 that the Binishell at Broadmeadow High School was to be demolished as part of an extensive upgrade of the Hunter School of Performing Arts, but it was still in use at the time of writing. Although some of the Binishells are still standing and being used today, they need regular maintenance and are still subject to condition surveys.

Even though Binishells were originally planned to be used solely in educational arenas, it seems that the trend has shifted to the Binishell concept now being used for a variety of purposes such as high-end residences, emergency shelters, low cost housing, commercial buildings, gymnasiums, and storage buildings.

More information on the construction of Binishells in New South Wales schools can be found here http://www.binisystems.com/binishells_03.html