Liminal was commissioned by Tasmanian tourism operator, RACT Destinations, to deliver nine pavilions to expand its Freycinet Lodge accommodation offerings on the East Coast of Tasmania. The Coastal Pavilions provide a point-of-difference to the 60 cabins already established as part of the 1990’s development.

With its pink-orange granite mountains and breathtaking coastline, Freycinet National Park is one of the oldest National Parks and most visited places in Tasmania. Liminal‘s brief was to provide a new style of accommodation befitting of the Park’s natural beauty, providing an experience for guests that respects and emanates its context. Liminal sought to create environmentally sensitive, architecturally innovative, grounded yet elegant spaces, heightening a sense of immersion and awareness of nature.

Design inspiration is drawn from the fluid forms of the nearby bays and coastal granite rock formations, while playing homage to the character of the National Park they nestle into.

Understanding the site’s micro-climate was critical to the design and planning of the redevelopment. Liminal curated specialists to inform the cultural, environmental and physical character of the site, walking the site with an ecologist, archaeologist, members of the Aboriginal community, engineers, bushfire experts, landscape architects, environmentalists and conducting surveys.

The Freycinet Lodge site was already heavily disturbed through mismanagement in the 1990’s. Liminal saw the redevelopment as an opportunity to remediate and introduce best environmental practice so the site will be left in a significantly better condition on completion. Part of this remediation process included the planting of 650 locally sourced, indigenous plants specific to the National Park, further improving the site’s condition and natural amenity.

A challenge presented by the brief was to locate nine pavilions where six of the original waterfront cabins were to be demolished, while providing a sense of privacy and seclusion. Constrained by the leasing boundary, the locations of large, granite rock protrusions, the need to minimise vegetation removal and the close proximity of nearby cabins, the design evolved to wrap and bend while being inspired by the curvaceous and smooth forms of the surrounding natural coastal landscape. The ‘embrace’ of the plan, reminiscent of nearby bays, is formed through the positioning and interplay of the living room and bedroom pods, shielding the generous deck, offering privacy to the outdoor bath. Mirroring the plan adds further efficiency and flexibility for optimal orientation.

To minimise the pavilions’ footprint and therefore resources used, planning uses the circulation space through the pavilion as the circulation space that would typically serve a ‘bathroom’ separately. The bathroom here is deconstructed allowing each element to be celebrated individually, bathed in natural light and views, while providing a unique spatial experience.

The exterior timber cladding is charred (Shou Sugi Ban) Red Ironbark, referencing the significance of fire in the bush context, while also increasing the longevity of the timber and ensuring the pavilions are visually discreet. A recessive backdrop to the natural vegetation and stunning, filtered water views is created.

Venturing inside, the guest is bathed in the warmth of Tasmanian timbers and presented with the water views for the first time. Offcuts of Tasmanian oak, Blackwood joinery and the only plywood to be manufactured locally, emphasise a Tasmanian experience. The modest budget led to utilitarian and common materials being reimagined and celebrated. Examples include the use of the only Tasmanian-made structural plywood for floors and ceilings, and offcuts of solid Tasmanian Oak applied in a random configuration to the walls with different thicknesses, producing beautiful qualities and shadowing as the light shifts.

So as not to detract from the stunning views, all condiments, refreshments, mirrors, accessories and luxury items typically associated with reputable resorts, are strategically hidden behind carefully detailed cupboard doors that appear as part of the wall – adding to the sense of discovery. The doors are fabricated from the same timber cladding as the walls so as not to interrupt the fluid forms and to ensure all distracting ‘clutter’ is hidden away – heightening the immersive experience in the landscape.

Cladding and flooring prototypes with various eco-stains were produced to test and ensure the Oak would complement the featured, but sparingly used, specialty timber, Tasmanian Blackwood. Liminal carefully managed the budgetary constraints by predominantly using reimagined economical materials. This allowed for the selection of higher-end materials and detailing where it mattered most to emphasise drama and experiential delight, such as the curved glass and netted balustrading.

The furniture was also designed by Liminal and locally made – continuing the Tasmanian immersion, connecting to context and place. Each individual piece of the ‘pebble’ sofa suite, including a chaise lounge, a single seater and ottoman has been specifically designed to work together in multiple configurations depending on the guest’s mood, whether it’s lying, gazing, reading, watching TV, sitting or playing board games, using the ottoman as the table. Designed to move around, concealed ‘feet’ treatment prevents scratching surfaces, resolving details with the same rigour applied to the design of the pavilions.

The generous decks allow for outdoor immersion. An experiential highlight is the netted, hammock-like balustrades. Recognising the desire to retain views that a standard balustrade would interrupt, Liminal devised the unique solution that provides a novel opportunity for relaxing and enjoying the incredible setting.

A rigorous site construction management plan was devised to minimise disturbance to the flora and fauna habitats. The pavilions were prefabricated off site, assembled in modules to be carried into site by hand, as no cranes, large machines or heavy vehicles could gain access to the individual pavilions’ sites. All materials, pre-fabricated modules and tools were carried in small trollies or by hand.

During construction, Liminal invested considerable time on site working with the builders, resolving details to ensure the design intent was retained and the craftsmanship was fully realised through the expression of the interiors and exteriors. The absence of right angles combined with curved forms, meant that the builders’ skills were challenged. The skill of the builders to achieve the meticulous detailing required, reminds us of what true craftsmanship is.