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September 4, 2012

Raising The Bar For Tropical And Organic Architecture

Raising The Bar For Tropical And Organic Architecture

Project: Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre
Location: Cairns, Australia
Architect: Charles Wright Architects
Construction: Hansen Yuncken
Client: Cairns Regional Council
Completion: 2011

A common challenge of tropical architecture is the ability to create a complementary structure to the dense surrounding environment, while also taking into account the restrictions of building in such a climate. Construction in the wet tropics requires even more intense knowledge of environmental attributes such as sun exposure and material weatherability in comparison to areas with more moderate temperature fluctuations.

Charles Wright Architects, in conjunction with their client, overcame these challenges and were able to create a truly innovative proposal through the creation of an open design policy. Not wanting to rely on complex sustainable technology, the architects focused on creating a more simplistic system that would not require intense upkeep for the owners. According to CWA, they worked closely with mechanical, structural, hydraulic and landscape consultants to create a canopy concept that would rely on solar ventilation, water harvesting and renewable energy in order to meet ESD (Ecologically Sustainable Development) initiatives.

Frequently compared to science fiction CGI, the exterior of the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Center is made of reflective glass walls and mirror-finished stainless steel. The façade produces a camouflaging effect in which the building itself reflects the dense rainforest it inhabits rather than reflecting the harsh tropical sun. The central breezeway beneath the spiraling façade serves as an interactive hall of mirrors for visitors.

Although small, the Visitor Center raises the bar for not only tropical, but also organic architecture.

photos © Patrick Bingham-Hall

information © Peter Skinner via Australia Design Review + Charles Wright Architects

DISCLAIMER: This project does not feature ALPOLIC Materials. The Architecture, Design and Sustainability sections of our blog are for global projects that we find remarkable.

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