Claire Bennett

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Into the wild, Cumulus Studio reveals Poetic Vision at Cradle Mountain Visitor’s Centre

Almost two hours west of Launceston sits the state’s jewel and international tourist destination, Cradle Mountain. It’s lush and tranquil landscape is home to enchanted rainforests, rolling grassland and provides habitat to the state’s elusive Tasmanian Devil and other famous fauna. Cumulus Studio has just completed a revamped version of the Cradle Mountain Visitor’s Centre that mirrors the beauty of its natural surroundings, reflected through the choice of material.

“Because of the site’s remote location, we needed a product that was maintenance free and would work with the elements. We created a steel screen to wrap around the exterior of the structure accompanied with rough sawn Tasmanian timber lining. We wanted to show off two aspects of the timber – a raw exterior which is evocative of the site’s extreme climate – as a strong contrast to the highly crafted and sculpted plywood lined interior,” says Walker.

“Visitors to the building come in close contact with the raw timber as they circulate through the public spaces that form an intermediate space between the inside and out. Over time the expressive timber skin will become much richer as it greys and takes on a beautiful patina which is inherent in the material, echoing the natural processes of the harsh surrounding alpine environment,” explains Walker.   

Going on to further explain the importance of the look and feel of this project, Walker shares why Tasmanian timber was the perfect fit for the location.

“The aesthetic side of timber was very important for this project. The choice of timber was less about construction but more about the poetics and qualities of the place. Because timber is natural, you can feel that connection to nature and it evokes a response from people that other materials don’t,” says Walker.

Due to its wild and rugged location, Henderson explains the psychological choice behind using timber for the inside of the structure.

“The timber created this sense of tactility showing off this hard, outside skin but as you move through and into the structure you come into contact with these touch points of timber that resembles this beautiful honey like cave. The timber connects you with the place which was important for this iconic Tasmanian destination and also creates a sense of warmth,” says Henderson

“You come into the visitor’s centre all rugged up but as you move inside and peel off layers the building does too, as you move through it, it has these rich layers of softness,” adds Walker.

With the completion of the visitor’s centre, this is just the first site finished with plans for a number of other buildings to accompany it underway.