Three Capes Track Lodges
Architectural cladding made from COLORBOND® steel proved to be the ideal material for these two environmentally sensitive walking track lodges, in the wilderness south-east of Hobart.
Words: Editorial team led by Alice Blackwood.
Photography: Brett Boardman
Accommodation & Hotels · TAS
Tasmania’s spectacular wilderness areas are renowned for their rugged beauty and pristine habitat. Inspired by the environment, many intrepid travellers have visited to explore the terrain by foot, so the tradition of accommodation-based guided walks in Tasmania is well-established.
The first walk – at Cradle Mountain – was launched in 1987 by architect Ken Latona and town planner Joan Masterman. They pioneered the early growth of comfortable camping and environmentally friendly tourism at multiple sites across Tasmania.
Latona and Masterman sold their Tasmanian Walking Company (TWC) to Brett Godfrey and Rob Sherrard, both of whom are committed to maintaining its legacy.
In 2016, the Tasmanian Walking Company (TWC) appointed architect Andrew Burns to oversee the design and development of two new facilities along the existing Three Capes Track: Crescent Lodge (to the west of the Tasman Peninsula) and Pillar Lodge (to the east).
Latona famously remarked: “I really think that people go to these places to see the places. They don’t go there to see fancy buildings. The architecture can be quite humble.”
This ethos informed Burns’ approach to the Three Capes project. “The client all-along said that the hero in this project was the landscape, and the architecture should heighten the experience of the landscape, not dominate it,” he explains.
This is partly evident in the linear planning, which Burns describes as “a logical typology for a lodge building”, because it leads the eye towards the view. It can also be seen in various details throughout the new buildings, such as the profiled roof sheeting made from COLORBOND® steel; the eaves detailing that relies on exposed outriggers to eliminate the need for rafters in the eaves; and the combination of lightweight steel and timber-framed structures, which help to minimise the impact on the environment.
Burns spent much time getting to the sites, marking them out to ensure the buildings sit well within the topography, and take full advantage of extraordinary views towards Cape Raoul and Cape Hauy.
His design was also informed by constraints from the remote location and limited access, because everything – from building materials to construction equipment to workers – had to be flown in by helicopter. Hence, steel’s light weight as a construction material and its ease-of-prefabrication made it ideal for the project.
The buildings were designed to allow maximum flexibility in construction. The two sites utilise the same structural systems, and steel was integral to the project due to its great strength, slenderness and spanning capacity.
“There were some very long span openings, up to 10 metres,” Burns says. “The intention of this was to open the building dramatically to the landscape. The long spans were achieved with steel.”
In reviewing the design of both lodges – and drawing on Latona’s model – Burns observes that there is almost the sense of an over-scaled house with all the domestic intimacy that implies.
The kitchen/living/dining space is the central gathering point, a low-key area where guides and guests can mingle. A secondary lounge area peels off from the main space, accessible via an outdoor walkway.
The entire project was prefabricated by builder Adam Ritson of AJR Construct in Devonport, which produced components of various sizes that ranged from individual steel beams and columns to trusses (for the sub-floor structure and communal areas) to prefabricated steel modules (for the sleeping quarters).
These components were transported by road to a nearby landing-stage seven minutes’ flight away, and then flown in by helicopter and carefully positioned into place from the air.
Galvanised steel was the material of choice for the subfloor framing components (structural steel in the form of Rectangular Hollow Sections [RHS)], Square Hollow Sections [SHS] and I-beams) to achieve absolute stability for the buildings, and to accommodate 23 underfloor* custom-made AQUAPLATE® steel rainwater tanks.
AQUAPLATE® steel was developed specifically for the storage of drinking water; it is produced with a base of galvanised steel that is laminated with a food-grade polymer film on the inside.
Across both sites, the distinctive roof elements – featuring generous eaves and a dark-toned COLORBOND® colours palette – blend in well with the bush environment.
"We used COLORBOND® steel in the LYSAGHT CUSTOM ORB ACCENT® 35 profile in the colour Monument®," says Burns. This profile is known for its striking visual appeal, achieved through corrugations 120 percent deeper and 50 percent wider than a conventional corrugated profile.
"It's quite a chunky profile with its thicker gauge and a longer spanning capacity, which enabled a very minimal roof structure with limited steel purlins," he says.
Importantly, the overhang in the roof* meant that both the upper and underside would be visible, so the material was a custom order, because it was painted in the colour Monument® on both sides.
"That was a special run," notes the builder Adam Ritson. "Because the roof is an honest thing, you can see the underside of the steel everywhere where it overhangs."
The dark Monument® COLORBOND® colour of the roofing plays a key role in the overall palette. Burns points out that the architects followed a general principle of layering from dark tones externally to lighter tones internally. Contrasting with the darkness of the steel, the warmth of timber was employed on the exterior facade.
Further refinement is also apparent in the way the steel-framed balustrading subtly links the timber walkways and decking. Their soft, recessive dark tone connects the buildings to the bush surrounding them.
"We wanted the buildings to display a clear lineage to [Ken Latona's Bay of Fires Lodge], so we reinterpreted the characteristic steel detailing in that project, particularly the eave outriggers and metal roof sheeting," says Burns.
Fundamental to the whole strategy – and going back to Ken Latona's philosophy – was to "touch this earth lightly", as architect Glenn Murcutt famously said.
The slim roofing architectural roofing made from COLORBOND® steel seems to cantilever almost like a feather beyond the edge of the building, thanks to the slender steel outriggers that support the eaves, which allowed the main members in the walls to be kept very slim.
"This was in keeping with our architectural intent of creating a sense of lightness in the landscape," says Burns.
*Warranty subject to application and eligibility criteria. For full terms and conditions and to determine the eligibility of your project for warranty visit the BlueScope Warranty website or call BlueScope on 1800 064 384
“The client all along said that the hero in this project was the landscape, and the architecture should heighten the experience of the landscape, not dominate it.”Andrew Burns Andrew Burns Architecture
Andrew Burns Architecture
Three Capes Track Lodges, Tasmania
- 2020 Australian Institute of Architects National Architecture Awards, Commercial Architecture – Commendation
- 2020 Australian Institute of Architects Tasmania Chapter Awards, The Colin Philp Award for Commercial Architecture
Three Capes Track, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania View on Google Maps
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