Malanda Falls Visitor Information Centre

WINNER – 2014 AIA ARCHITECTURE AWARDS – FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND, REGIONAL PROJECT OF THE YEAR

Conceptual framework:
The building design represents a re-think and new direction for tropical architecture, moving away from the conventional building vernaculars toward new and progressive solutions that can be applied anywhere on a tropical latitude. The articulated, wrapping external façade features the volcanic history of the region, re-calling indigenous stories of the seven-sisters and surrounding landscape.

Public and Cultural Benefits:
A new and upgraded interpretive educational facility for the Atherton Tablelands. This project makes for a unique building prototype, in that it is cost-effective, modular in its construction and transportable, however the design is bespoke in its detail layout and in its external configuration. We engaged in close consultation with the public at our design development workshops to ensure we delivered a building that had real input from all stakeholders.

Relationship of Built Form to Context:
The building acts as an attractor in its roadside location, whilst nestling up to the pristine rainforest with sheltered viewing platform and private verandas from which visitors can look out for the elusive tree kangaroos. From every point within the facility there are full height framed feature views of the rainforest surrounding whilst shielding view of the busy highway.

Program Resolution:
An ideal Visitors Centre with central interpretive space, flexible and adaptive to changing display requirements. The wrapping verandas with feature soffit shelter act as flexible break-out spaces with direct connection to the rainforest and walking tracks down to the waterfalls. A public facility with extensive areas for people to meet, discover and interact with nature, careful consideration was given to all aspects of universal access requirements. The centre also features a small shop, reception, offices for volunteers & council staff and public amenities.

Integration of Allied Disciplines:
In all of our work, we strive for innovation and new solutions to the problems of living with climate change in the 21st Century. Integration of Allied Disciplines was critical to the successful delivery of our vision for the project, in particular the hydraulic & structural engineering which not only facilitated the advanced sustainability initiatives but also the practical requirements for withstanding annual cyclonic weather events.

Cost/Value Outcome:
The project was developed and procured through an intensive value management process, resulting in a highly cost-effective solution for a fully functional, exemplar public building prototype.

Sustainability:
The project features ESD initiatives including mixed mode air-conditioning systems promoting natural ventilation, low energy light fittings throughout, low water usage plumbing fixtures and fittings, long life cycle efficiency materials and construction, extensive sun-shading and solar treatment to all windows, and materials sourced locally from the tablelands region.

Response to Client and User needs:
By working closely with all members of the user and client groups we were able to achieve unanimous council and public support for what is a challenging and innovative architectural proposal. “Now that I see it linked to Country, I think it is beautiful. It is a building to make people stop.” Eva Morta, Ngadjon-ji representative from the Choorechillum