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COLORBOND® steel revitalises the Puffing Billy Lakeside Visitor Centre

COLORBOND® steel revitalises the Puffing Billy Lakeside Visitor Centre


Nestled amongst the evergreen landscape of Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges is the heritage railway Puffing Billy Lakeside Visitor Centre. The structure’s COLORBOND® steel roofing and cladding in the dark shade of Monument® Matt finish ensures the construction blends seamlessly into the natural setting.

The iconic Puffing Billy site, which lies within the towering rainforests of the Yarra Valley mountain ranges, has maintained the nostalgia of historical train travel since its opening in 1900. However, as visitor numbers surged the railway faced challenges in maintaining its magic.

TERROIR, a collective of architects and urbanists striving to enhance connection between people and the places they inhabit, was tasked with constructing a solution that not only addressed the influx of visitors to the much-loved tourist attraction, but also enhanced the railway experience. The result is a daring discovery centre wedged naturally within Emerald Lake Park. At the core of the design is COLORBOND® steel – a versatile material known for its durability and aesthetic appeal.

TERROIR associate and project lead Emily Slevin says the aim was to celebrate the railway’s history while embracing modern innovation. “Using BlueScope’s COLORBOND® steel in Monument® Matt finish was a significant design decision and aligned with the client, contractor and design team’s desire to locally source,” she says.

The decision to use the industry-renowned roofing and cladding product not only created a muted and monochromatic presence that allows the building to visually recede into its natural environment, but also serves as a nod to Puffing Billy’s historical cast metal trains.

The structure sits delicately amongst the trees as a direct result of COLORBOND® steel’s versatility and understated elegance. “Approaching from Emerald Lake Park, you almost cannot pick out the building,” Slevin says.

The use of COLORBOND® steel goes beyond just aesthetics – it’s a testament to sustainability and longevity. The product’s ability to be recycled at the end of its functional life ensures that it aligns with the project’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

The durability of the material is also a sustainability consideration and, just like Puffing Billy’s ageless steam locomotives, the building has been designed to endure. Slevin says “the cladding looks as good today as it did the day it was installed.”

While the roofing ruggedly cloaks the entire building, it’s not just the exterior that showcases the design of COLORBOND® steel. The ribbing alignment of the Straightline 406 Plain Pan Deck cladding profile at the roof and wall junctions gives the impression that the two seamlessly flow into each other, while the custom-fabricated mansard caps work to maintain the clean lines between the exterior facade.

TERROIR structural group leader and associate director Tim Mansfield emphasises the importance of collaboration in bringing the design to life. “We worked with the builder to accommodate secondary fabrication elements for the roofing and cladding beyond the primary portal frames,” he says.

A material that seamlessly integrates

The Puffing Billy Lakeside Visitor Centre demonstrates the transformative power of COLORBOND® steel. The roofing and cladding product itself is already stunning, but its ability to seamlessly integrate surfaces into its surroundings is where it shines. Its understated elegance and unmatched durability have reshaped the railway experience, leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.

As the sun descends over the Dandenong Ranges, COLORBOND® steel’s ridges and lines cast striking shadows across the centre. With its ability to blend innovation and aesthetics the product has transformed buildings and surfaces, allowing the magic of Puffing Billy to be endured for years to come.

Learn more about this innovative, boundary-pushing project, and discover what you can do with COLORBOND® steel and the BlueScope family of products in the latest edition of STEEL PROFILE®, brought to you by BlueScope.

COLORBOND®, STEEL PROFILE®, BlueScope, and ® colour names are registered trade marks of BlueScope Steel Limited (ABN 16 000 011 058). All rights reserved.”

Photography by Peter Bennetts and Rory Gardiner.

Also, discover some other breathtaking projects that engage COLORBOND® steel.


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