Connecting to site through wonder and surprise
This small pair of café, kiosk and amenity buildings are located in the most formal yet desolate series of public spaces in Australia. Canberra is distinctive for its intense city plan and resultant choreography of movement around and between the key landscape features through which it derived its geometry. At the centre of the plan sits Parliament House, located at the apex of a triangle from which all geometry in the area is derived. In front of the Parliament are buildings containing Australia’s major public institutions – a sort of ‘architectural zoo’ constructed over the last 50 years and designed by the country’s finest architects.
To provide amenity for those visiting this precinct, it was determined that a toilet block and small café should be located in the foreground, on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin. The question arose, how does one install a toilet just meters from such a stately array of buildings and institutions? The strangeness of this context led to the design of grey timber facades with coloured soffits – a surprising combination that is also a deeply contextual response, that opens the eyes, and mind, of those visiting to the qualities of the place around them.