Woodhead - Interpretive Centre in West Australia Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 December 2008 02:01

Interpretive_Centre_05.jpg 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

Interpretive_Centre_04.jpgInterpretive_Centre_03a.jpgThe 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.

Interpretive_Centre_02.jpgStage 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.

Interpretive_Centre_07.jpgThose 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.


About Woodhead:

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.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 02:17
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