Directly informed by the half-domed dwellings of some of Australia’s first people, Wukalina Standing Camp is the realisation of a contemporary architectural solution to the provision of an accommodation offering that is integrated sensitively within the natural landscape of north-east Tasmania. Visitors to the famous ‘Bay of Fires’ region can participant in a 4-day immersive walking experience as they traverse areas of outstanding natural beauty and significant cultural history. In 2017, under the guidance of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, and in consultation with the Aboriginal (palawa) community, Taylor + Hinds Architects designed a collection of robust structures that are beautifully integrated into the surroundings and subtly anchored to the rich heritage of the site.
The structures that collectively make up Wukalina’s Standing Camp are constructed from locally-sourced, light-weight timber with an exterior that has been charred to promote insulation and fire protection. The secondary purpose of this treatment ensures the buildings all beautifully blend into their native surroundings giving the distinct appearance of the original dwellings of the Palawa people that they have been designed to resemble.
When not in use, the structures bunker down and all but disappear into their native surroundings. By reducing the visual impact of the camp, Taylor + Hinds have sensitively integrated low-impact built forms that provide basic shelter without disturbance to the site’s flora and fauna. When in use, the structures make use of a series of shutters that invite light and air into the interiors whilst allowing for discreet surveillance of the site’s abundant wildlife.
The dwellings, consisting of a series of small accommodation huts that each sleep 2 people, as well as a common building that encourages communal interaction between groups utilising the camp’s facilities, have been carefully situated to maximise their exposure to both the summer and winter sun. They are all highly energy efficient and make use of existing vegetation to provide privacy and natural navigation throughout the camp zone. Low impact footings mean each structure can be easily removed from the site if necessary and all waste facilities have been designed to allow for the complete removal of waste from the site.
Wukalina Standing Camp is an outstanding example of the sensitive and considered development of a site that houses a fragile ecosystem that could have easily been damaged through the construction and ongoing use of the site. Instead, through holistic design development, considered material choices, and offsite construction methods, this project empathetically realises the opportunity to appreciate the staggering beauty of the Australian landscape within the harmonious and gently rich walls of the built structures that provide humble yet comfortable shelter.
Words by Tiffany Jade.
Images by Adam Gibson.