The ritual burning of the Pinnacles Interpretive Centre in Western Australia, as part of its design and building process underscores the unique role of fire both culturally and environmentally in Australia. This incredibly evocative gesture by Woodhead and project architect for the Centre, John Nichols, introduces this specific practice into contemporary Australian architecture.
Located 250km north of Perth in the Nambung National Park, the Pinnacles is made of thousands of protruding limestone formations spread over a vast dunal landscape. The rock formations are the exposed eroded remnants of a formerly thick bed of Tamala Limestone, created over time by rain and wind
The design principle for the centre is completely embedded in the mutable narrative of that landscape. The forces at play in the landscape determined the configuration of the elements and distinct staging of construction.
Stage One involved the complete construction of the freestanding limestone walls only that were then left to sit inconspicuously in the landscape as both ‘ruins in reverse’ and ‘immature pinnacles’ for a period of time. At the completion of Stage two of construction, the vertical timber elements, which were a figurative reference to the heath shrub in the area, were deliberately set on fire.
The burning and the burnt remains are integral to the scheme and highlight the relationship between fire, the land and its inhabitants, particularly in Australia, which requires a specific way of engaging with space, which non-Aboriginal culture, is just beginning to engage with.
The material language for the scheme fits into its environment, becoming just another part of the background to the desert.
Those materials used are specifically ‘of the place’: the podium and the walls are constructed in limestone, timbers used are direct references to the nearby grove of vanishing tuarts (Eucalyptus gomphocephala), disappearing under a shifting sand dune and the planting interventions involve species endemic to the region.
As a consequence this project deliberately favors shifting and multiple axis lines over a singular orientational logic, resulting in precarious spatial relationships. The configuration of the walls creates open-ended opportunities for enclosure, rather than clear-cut pockets of space, and material elements both fragment and overlap to emphasize the shifting focal points.
Established in 1927, and named after one of the early founders, Woodhead is one of the leading architectural and design consultancies in Australia and Asia. The key to that reputation is an approach that emphasizes high-quality, integrated services and tailor-made solutions that add value to our client's projects.
One of the most important factors in any design project is a common understanding of needs and goals. Woodhead portfolio business units were developed to offer industry-specific expertise. What this means for clients is a project team that understands the business, not just the building, and can provide cost-effective design solutions tailor-made for the individual client's industry needs.
Lake|Flato Architects - The Government Canyon Visitor Center
The Government Canyon Visitor Center, An AIA/COTE Top Ten Green
Project in 2007, floats in a field of native grasses and restored oaks
at the mouth of the canyon, forming a gateway to the 8,600-acre
Government Canyon State Natural Area , located in Bexar County outside
of San Antonio, Texas.
Guilherme Machado Vaz - Centipede in the Garden
The Centipede is a Tea House in the Basílio Teles Garden, located in
Matosinhos, the city where Álvaro Siza was born, in the North of
Portugal. The garden stands in front of the beautiful City Hall
building, designed by Arch. Alcino Soutinho in the late 80’s. This,
once, romantic garden of the ninetieth century is now the sum of
continuous interventions with poor architectonic quality and obsolete