TEN years ago, one of the most significant projects for Melbourne was launched,
turning the city on its ear and changing the lives of its citizens forever.
Southgate, a multi-million dollar development, opened up the southern side of
the Yarra River, replacing old warehouses, factories and dingy lanes with a
sparkling array of restaurants, retail shops, business towers and a five-star
The city that had turned its back on the riverside for more than 150 years was
now turning around and embracing it as a new focal point. Fantech won the
contract to supply all fans and attenuators for the project, which was of such a
size that it is still regarded as a major construction within the Australian
Mechanical equipment ranged right across the board, from simple exhaust fans for
the bathrooms of the hotel rooms on 23 levels to 11 giant chillers that provided
air conditioning for the major buildings.
There were car park exhausts, axial fans, centrifugal fans, blowers and
attenuators in a wide range of sizes and shapes.
Project manager Bob Dunstan, nowadays with Sharp & Pendrey mechanical
contractors, said the range of building styles also meant that a variety of
requirements, scheduling and configurations in terms of exhaust systems and
silencers had to be addressed.
For example, by its very nature, the Sheraton Towers hotel required exhaust
systems and silencers that would provide quiet operation 24 hours a day. The car
park also needed to work on an all-hours cycle.
On the other hand, the restaurants and shops tended to come on stream at
midmorning and go on to late in the night, while the two office towers worked at
traditional 9-to-5 business hours.
“Then there was the Church,” said Bob. “It is one of the few remaining original
buildings, and needed equipment in keeping with a quiet place of worship.
“So you can see, there was a diverse range of buildings, requiring a wide range
of product and engineered solutions.”
Such was the size of the project, Bob recollects sometimes having 200 plumbers
on site at one stage. Keith Eaglsesome, Fantech’s sales executive on the
project, said Southgate was “the largest order the company had received to that
“Most days I was involved on site to ensure the contract ran smoothly,” said
Keith who, after the project was up and running, left Australia to set up a
Fantech operation in New Zealand which has now become a major force in that
Keith said that despite the scale of the project, and a lot of re-working and
changes, there were very few moments of anguish, with Fantech and mechanical
contractors for the project, A. E. Smith, working in well with Jennings
Constructions and numerous other contractors and suppliers.
“It was a happy team, and great times,” Keith said. Added Bob Dunstan, who
ultimately spent five years on the project: “It was a joy.”