TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA: the sustainable redevelopment of a dismissed industrial complex in St Clair Lake National Park, one of the most attractive UNESCO World Heritage sites, transforms them into a haven for lovers of wild and unspoilt nature.
The unique feature of this landscape reserve, which distinguishes it within the exceptional panorama of World Heritage Sites, is the fact that it is one of only two in the world to meet seven out of ten criteria for this status. Above all, it is the site of a changing geological process and of vegetation and animals of extraordinary rarity.
Within this unique setting, a power station was built in 1940 to pump water from the lake into the lagoon to power the Tarraleah power station. The hydroelectric project consisted of two buildings. The Pumphouse, a three-storey structure for pumping turbines located inside the lake more than 250 meters from the shore and connected to it by a narrow walkway, and the Shorehouse near the coast that housed the offices and maintenance workshop. The programme was never completed, the buildings were abandoned for over twenty years, until their recent renovation.
The main objective of the new project is the protection of the natural environment and the existing historical buildings, applied thanks to the transformation of UNESCO constraints into pillars of the whole process: sustainability, use of local raw materials and minimum impact on the site.
In line with these values, the exteriors of the Art Deco buildings have been kept intact to fully preserve their character, in contrast to the distinctly contemporary and minimalist interiors that do not attract the attention of the guests but focus them to the surrounding landscape.
Another condition imposed was the limited economic availability, which together with the problem of access to the place and the consequent difficulty of movement, prompted the designers to devise prefabricated structural solutions and dry systems based on the use of local materials. This method created a more straightforward system for the supply of raw materials and considerable ease of implementation thanks to the simplified assembly of standardised parts, which significantly reduced the construction process.
The neutrality of wood provides a robust and at the same time acoustically efficient load-bearing structure, that given the high performance required by the hotel function to ensure adequate comfort for suite guests.
Photographs: Stuart Gibson, Adam Gibson, Sharyn Cairns