The spectacular Jewel Cave is a subterranean wonderland hidden under an ancient forest. Located near the South West surf town of Yallingup, this new facility provides an entry to the cave and a visitors centre with science education and history about the unique caves and its fragile surrounding environment.
The architecture is driven by the concept of revealing natural systems not immediately apparent to visitors to the site; micro climate, post bushfire regeneration, the ecology of the forest and the aspects of change over time (seasonal, forest, and geological). These are expressed through weathering materials, framed views, ‘interpretation’ components and the formations of the karst systems themselves.
The buildings plan form is dictated by fire offset requirements and available floor area is constrained by the need to minimise the impact on the karst system below the surface. A single level building emerges from contact with the earth and pushes out over the landscape negotiating the massive adjacent trees pushing ‘scoops’ into the plan as it searches into the forest. It’s blackened recycled Jarrah ‘belly’ becomes visible in contrast to the clean steel framed glazing, copper clad walls and oiled timber battens that form the enclosure.
The landscape falls allowing occupation of the forest floor under the shade of the building. The grounded end provides access to the existing staircase that descends into the cave and the elevated café at the opposite end provides a majestic view into the trees. Between is a space captured by a ceiling that dips and hangs exploring an abstraction of the cave formations and from a decked floor grows tables, benches and interpretation panels.
The visitors will experience a place both mysterious and delightful, encouraged to explore the building, the cave and the forest and come away with a rich learning experience.
Invited Competition 2nd Place
Selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale NEVER WAS- NOW IS, Augmented Australia exhibition 2014