Cairns Regional Council sought a challenging new tropical architecture that could act as an attractor to the Botanical Gardens/Tanks Arts Centre precinct. The building was to be long, low and blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment (ideally invisible). The architect proposed a design which could reflect the gardens as camouflage for the building with a visual effect similar to the suit as worn by the alien hunter in the original 1987 Predator film. The new building was sited to straddle and activate the pedestrian promenade linking the gardens and arts centre, acting as an open and flexible conduit into the interpretive and performative spaces. It is a new, iconic gateway into the precinct, representing both “a democratic public space under-cover” and a new tropical architecture to assist Cairns in its mission to be seen as a progressive city of national and global significance.
The project is a key element of the Cairns Cityport Masterplan which has transformed the waterfront into an urban public realm. The client prioritised the conservation of the wharf’s historic sheds and artefacts as well as the creation of waterfront public space. The design sought to fulfil these aspirations by engaging multiple historic elements with a language of new social follies that are fabricated from salvaged timbers. These are designed to create portals to particular places of historic and environmental interest.
Essential to the spirit of this venture was the preservation of both the delicate rainforest and the cultural heritage it sustains. Innovative engineering was paired with a sensitive concern for this wilderness. This averted environmental damage during construction – and the design also minimises any risk of future harm in the event that the facility requires maintenance or repair works.
Hinchinbrook Island is renowned as one of the world’s most outstanding island National Parks. Small areas of the island have been opened for visitor access in limited numbers. The main access to Hinchinbrook Island is by water taxi from Cardwell to Missionary Bay. From there, visitors access Ramsay Bay and the Thorsborne Trail by way of the Ramsay Bay Boardwalk which takes visitors through mangroves to the sand spit at the back of the Ramsay Bay beach. This makes the Ramsay Bay boardwalk a key piece of infrastructure in the context of this very important National Park.
Bana Yirriji is situated on the remote Bloomfield River at Wujal Wujal in Far North Queensland. The place has great natural beauty. The client, Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council (WWASC) commissioned the design of an art gallery, workshop and café with a trade training kitchen desiring productive, creative and inspiring spaces. The aim was to attract tourists, sell art and hospitality services as well as host functions for the community. The spatial design of the building was evolved in conjunction with the WWASC representatives.
Gab Titui is the keeping place for Torres Strait cultural artefacts, some of which were returned from the British Museum. The tropical humid climate immediately posed a threat to the precious artefacts which had been kept in a controlled environment for many decades. Accordingly, the building had to contain a climatically stable, sealed room as well as gallery and retail spaces.
The Malanda Falls Visitor Centre was established in 1996 by a team of enthusiastic and passionate locals. Their dream was to provide a place to help visitors and school children understand and appreciate this unique rainforest environment.
Cairns is a major transit port for cruise liners travelling to Far North Queensland, the Pacific and Polynesian islands. Since the 1990s, passengers had been processed in the adjacent Shed 2 with minimal infrastructure or amenities in place, resulting in a rather rudimentary experience.