Do Some ‘Reflecting’ at the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre…

See what I did there?

Anyway, this building, the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre — winner of the Building of the Year and Public Architecture Awards in 2012 from the Australian Institute of Architects in Queensland — was set out to be a progressive and green building that moved away from conventional building vernaculars.  It also aimed to attract national and international audiences and create new opportunities and connections to existing facilities, communities and groups in the location.

The main focus of the visitors centre — which was completed UNDER-BUDGET — is definitely its new, iconic gateway that leads into the botanical garden and tank arts centre precinct, which quite LITERALLY reflects the surrounding gardens.  Along with that feature, the northern block houses the café terrace, then opens up to the major interpretation display and information space, while the southern block contains an office building for council staff with a naturally cross-ventilated corridor acting as a linear sequence of cellular office spaces that all open out to a shared staff terrace along the southern block.  The use of cross-ventilation, efficient ceiling fans, individual AC control, and insulated internal thermal mass helps to minimize annual heat usage while used in a mixed-mode configuration.

The Visitor’s Centre is a memorable example of tropical architecture that also achieves many sustainable tasks, including: solar panels to feed back into the power grid, stormwater harvesting tanks, mixed mode air-conditioning systems, low energy light fittings throughout, low water usage fittings, long life cycle efficiency materials and construction, solar treatment to all windows, naturally ventilated circulation corridors and shaded exposed thermal mass internally.


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