Hazards at Freycinet

The opportunity to design a large hotel in a world-class landscape area is a significant one but also comes with a great responsibility. The site is located 2 kilometres west of the town of Coles Bay on Tasmania's East Coast, with only a beach and single connecting road between. The dominant feature of the site is the expansive view along the beach and across the bay to "The Hazards" - a famous landscape that makes the Freycinet Peninsula one of the most visited wilderness areas in the state.

A series of key organizational decisions formed the basis to the design strategy. The original brief for 150 units, spread across the site in a "resort" formation was challenged. By locating all units at the coastal edge of the site the whole development is accessed via internal circulation, changing the emphasis from a resort to hotel. In addition to addressing qualitative issues of 5-star accommodation in a cooler climate, the rooms were located on the most degraded part of the site (thus returning the rest of the site to bushland) and each room could receive the famous Hazards view.

Operating in parallel with these decisions was an emerging poetic position in regard to the occupation of the site and the way in which this occupation would reinforce its key characteristics. These characteristics - geology, landscape form and climate - led to the development of a series of written strategies and diagrams intended to clarify the architectural potential and thus the experiential and interpretive potential for short-term visitors. Key in these is our understanding of the Tasmanian landscape as an essay in monumentality and intimacy, a juxtaposition exemplified in the photography of the late Peter Dombriovskis.

The building consists of three key components. Firstly, a monumental copper roof plate crowns the site, providing an abstract and iconic synthesis of the site and the characteristics of the landscape in which it is placed.

All indoor public spaces are located under this roof, both an identifier and a gathering space. Secondly, a central zone of pools and walkways provides a foreground to the view in addition to a unique experience in the form of hot pools that recall the combination of granite and steam that formed this particular landscape. Finally, the room wings roll along the contours, ensuring that each room obtains a view while, via their detailed geometry, ensuring that the scale of the development is minimized.

Image by Bill Henson, 'Untitled,' 1996/97, Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.