Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre

Tasmania, Australia

Aerial view ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Aerial view ©️2020 Rob Burnett

Sharp geometric forms beckon to a honeyed cave

Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre is a building of contrasts. It’s imposing but harmonious. It’s an abstract interpretation of nature. And it’s modern with a rightness unrooted in time. Most surprising of all, perhaps, is how the raw exterior unwinds into a warm, soft, delicate timber lining.

景观 ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Landscape ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre ©️2020 Rob Burnett

With wild rainforests, rolling grasslands and roaming Tassie Devils, it’s no surprise Cradle Mountain entices a surging number of visitors. But how can you design a meaningful visitor experience in a footprint never intended to accommodate that number of guests? The Visitor Centre is the first development in a majorplan to reimagine the iconic Cradle Mountain experience.

Night view ©️Anjie Blair
Night view ©️Anjie Blair

The Visitor Centre offers a warm alpine welcome to reflect both the sense of rugged up anticipation
on arrival and the distinctive Cradle Mountain geology. The sculptural, wilderness inspired development includes an orientation building, commercial services base, shuttle bus shelter and coach transit centre. At every turn, we aimed to honour the significance and sensitivity of this world renowned national park.

In the snow ©️Anjie Blair
In the snow ©️Anjie Blair

Materials to mirror nature

We designed the buildings to feel grounded, as if carved from a solid rock by a glacier. The umbrella rain-screen form references the folding angular geology of the site, inviting visitors into the cave-like timber interior.

Interior ©️Anjie Blair
Interior ©️Anjie Blair

The choice of timber for the interior was about the poetics and qualities of the place. Because timber is natural, guests feel connected to nature. It often evokes a response other materials don’t.

Measured tourists footprints

The design required an in-depth understanding of visitor movements across the site. It needed to accommodate the wide gap between peak and average visitor numbers and feel inviting in both cases.

Main entrance ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Main entrance ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Bus stop ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Bus stop ©️2020 Rob Burnett
Detail ©️Anjie Blair
Detail ©️Anjie Blair

Our intuitive way-finding strategy creates a flow to subtly guide visitors while they interact with site interpretation and visitor information. We used a hierarchy of space that organises services but lets the staggering natural setting sing out.

Night view ©️Anjie Blair
Night view ©️Anjie Blair

No mountain high enough

The Visitor Centre design went through many iterations as more stakeholderssaw the project’s potential. But we’re proud the essence and guiding goals remained constant throughout, even as other aspects shifted around them. It’s quite a feeling to walk inside the sculpted interior timber cave, a completely unexpected gem inside the building. Whilst the triangulated timber volume’s complex geometry proved a technical challenge, it’s all the more satisfying to admire it now knowing the hard work involved.

Landscape ©️Anjie Blair
Landscape ©️Anjie Blair

Project drawings

Project information

ArchitectsCumulus Studio
BuilderFairbrother Construction
Landscape ArchitectsPlaystreet
Graphic Design / Signage / WayfindingFutago Interpretation – Creative Hat Interpretation
Structural / Hydraulic / Civil Engineer Aldanmark Services Infrastructure Engineer- Pitt&Sherry
Electrical EngineerPitt&Sherry and COVA
CompletionJune 2020

Editing and translation: Chuichui, ©️FULLDES authorized publishing, copyright from the Author, Image copyright from the photographer or Company.

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