Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre | Cumulus Studio

Release Time: June 9, 2021

Project name: Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre

Architect: Cumulus



Project location: Cradle Mountain, TAS, 7306, Australia

Project address: 4057 Cradle Mountain Rd, Cradle Mountain TAS 7306

Completion date: 04/06/2020

Project type: Commercial – Tourism

Project site area: 98,428 sqm

Building area:

1,379 sqm (including covered walkway)

880 sqm (including ground floor area without covered walkways)

Gross floor area:

Ground: 1,379 sqm (including covered walkway

1st Floor: 260 sqm

Total: 1,639 sqm


Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment,

Tasmania (Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Services)

Traditional owners of the land: The Big River Nation

Photographer: Anjie Blair



Project team: Cumulus

Peter Walker – Director / Architect

Andrew Geeves – Project Architect

Elizabeth Walsh – Design Architect

Luke Waldron

Todd Henderson

Matt Green

Claire Austin

Jason Licht

Gary Fleming

Andrew Frangou


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Cradle Mountain visitor centre in the snow ©Anjie Blair

Sharp geometric forms beckon to a honeyed cave. Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre is a building of contrasts. It’s imposing but harmonious. It’s an abstract interpretation of nature. And it’s modern with a rightness unrooted in time. Most surprising of all, perhaps, is how the raw exterior unwinds into a warm, soft, delicate timber lining.

©Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre ©Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre at sunset ©Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain visitor centre at twilight ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain visitor centre at twilight ©Anjie Blair

With wild rainforests, rolling grasslands and roaming Tassie Devils, it's no surprise Cradle Mountain entices a surging number of visitors. But how can you design a meaningful visitor experience in a footprint never intended to accommodate that number of guests? The Visitor Centre is the first development in a major plan to reimagine the iconic Cradle Mountain experience.

Cradle Mountain sitting in the landscape ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain early morning in the snow ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre view towards main entrance ©Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain exterior through the grasses ©Anjie Blair

The Visitor Centre offers a warm alpine welcome to reflect both the sense of rugged-up anticipation on arrival and the distinctive Cradle Mountain geology. The sculptural, wilderness-inspired development includes an orientation building, commercial services base, shuttle bus shelter and coach transit center. At every turn, we aimed to honor the significance and sensitivity of this world-renowned national park.

Cradle Mountain bus stop ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain bus stop ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain bus stop ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain bus stop at twilight ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain bus shelter ©Rob Burnett

Materials to mirror nature. We designed the buildings to feel grounded, as if carved from a solid rock by a glacier. The umbrella rain-screen form references the folding angular geology of the site, inviting visitors into the cave-like timber interior. The choice of timber for the interior was about the poetics and qualities of the place. Because timber is natural, guests feel connected to nature. It often evokes a response other materials don’t.

The colour choice in the exterior cladding blends into the landscape ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain perforated metal and timber cladding ©Anjie Blair

Looking out the the wilderness and showing the perforated metal exterior ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain visitor centre interior tessellated plywood roof linings with suspended canopy of brass tree branches ©Anjie Blair

Tessellated plywood roof linings were joined by a suspended canopy of brass tree branches ©Anjie Blair

Measured tourists footprints. The design required an in-depth understanding of visitor movements across the site. It needed to accommodate the wide gap between peak and average visitor numbers and feel inviting in both cases. Our intuitive way-finding strategy creates a flow to subtly guide visitors while they interact with site interpretation and visitor information. We used a hierarchy of space that organizes services but lets the staggering natural setting sing out.

©Rob Burnett

©Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain walkway between timber cladding and metal exterior ©Anjie Blair

World Map on exterior ©Anjie Blair

No mountain high enough. The Visitor Centre design went through many iterations as more stakeholders saw the project’s potential. But we’re proud the essence and guiding goals remained constant throughout, even as other aspects shifted around them. It’s quite a feeling to walk inside the sculpted interior timber cave, a completely unexpected gem inside the building. Whilst the triangulated timber volume’s complex geometry proved a technical challenge, it’s all the more satisfying to admire it now knowing the hard work involved.

Suspended canopy of brass tree branches by Tasmanian artist Alex Miles ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain visitor centre interior tessellated plywood roof linings joined by canopy of brass tree branches ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain toilet block ©Anjie Blair

Cradle Mountain bathrooms ©Anjie Blair

Site Plan

Ground Floor Plan

First Floor Plan



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