Sydney Talk Series: Binishells in NSW Schools / Nov 28

Alberto Pugnale and Matt Devine will talk about Binishells and their use and preservation in NSW Schools

In 1974 the Department of Public Works began a comprehensive program of new school buildings using a radical concrete dome technology pioneered by Italian architect Dr Dante Bini. In total 14 schools received Binishells or multi-shell complexes.

The reinforced concrete thin-shell structure of the Binishells were lifted and shaped by air pressure in a 3 day construction period. The program included 18-metre diameter shells or shell complexes, generally used as libraries, and 36-metre diameter multipurpose centres, often used as gymnasiums. In 2021 three of the remaining Binishells were included on the NSW State Heritage Register.

Alberto Pugnale, from The University of Melbourne will join us to talk about the book he co-authored; Architecture beyond the Cupola- Inventions and Designs of Dante Bini 2023. The book provides the first comprehensive overview on Dante Bini’s work and thoroughly explores Bini’s pneumatic constructions and the form-resistant Binishell through the decades. In this talk Alberto will present the original archival material and the extensive representations of Bini’s projects and constructions gathered in the book.

Matt Devine, conservation architect and lecturer at the University of Sydney, was a member of the team engaged in 2019 to assess the 10 Binishells remaining in NSW schools. Matt will provide an overview of the condition of the shells, the decisions around which shells to retain and how the subsequent listing of the Binishells was negotiated.

Time & Date: Tuesday 28th November 2023, 5.30pm for 6pm start
Cost: Students $10, Members $15, Non-Members $20, all payable through Eventbrite


Venue: NBRS Architecture, Level 2, 4 Glen Street, Milsons Point, 206
RSVP by Friday 24th November 2023.
Bookings are essential as places are limited. Any queries to

Australia ICOMOS, DOCOMOMO Australia, NSW Chapter Australian Institute of Architects members and friends are all invited to attend

Alberto Pugnale is an architect and Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at The University of Melbourne (Australia). He is a co-director of the Advanced Digital Design + Fabrication (ADD+F) Research Hub and a founding member of the Bioinspiration Hallmark Research Initiative. Alberto has a PhD in architecture and building design and an MSc in architecture and construction. In 2007, he won the IASS HANGAI Prize, an international competition for research papers related to the field of shell and spatial structures for young researchers under 30. In 2023, he received the IASS Tsuboi Award for the most meritorious paper published in the Journal of the IASS in the preceding calendar year.

Matt Devine, is a registered architect who has worked across a wide spectrum of architecture and heritage conservation in Sydney. He was part of the curatorial team for the State Library of NSW exhibition Imagine a City: 200 years of Public Architecture in NSW focusing on the 200 year history of the NSW Government Architect’s Office. He works as a Senior Strategic Planner at the City of Sydney and teaches heritage conservation at the University of Sydney.

Buy the book here: