Certified cypress is the star in this new hotel.
Building onto old concrete piles that previously supported a single-storey shed, physical logistics were just one of the issues facing the team behind the new MACq 01 Hotel on Hobart’s waterfront. The solution? Timber cladding and decking around a steel frame: lightweight, but in no way compromised on quality, and in keeping with the historic waterfront location.
The hotel’s location had previously been used for everything from a public gallows to a rendering plant for whale oil and is considered an important part of Hobart’s historic waterfront, so the team wanting to build a 114-room hotel had their work cut out pleasing the locals enough to get support for the development.
Their brilliant strategy was hiring noted heritage architects Circa Morris Nunn. The resulting design reflects the pier’s robust history in its functional construction, such as the visually heavy timber framing of the building. The result integrates so well with its neighbouring heritage buildings that it has been held up by Hobart community groups as a leading example of how old and new can co-exist in this historic location.
Circa Morris Nunn’s environmental focus is both a central part of the design’s success and a source of additional benefits. White cypress with Responsible Wood accreditation is used throughout the building. Supplied by Hurford Wholesale, the architects could be sure the cypress was both optimal quality and from a forest exercising best practice in sustainability.
Robert Morris Nunn, director of Circa Morris Nunn, emphasised the importance of specifying certified timber, saying: “Circa Morris Nunn has a proud history of innovative timber use. As the value of timber as a sustainable construction material becomes more widely known it is important for us, as architects, to take responsibility and only specify certified timbers. This is particularly the case in Tasmania where forest practices are at the forefront of public consciousness.
“Public buildings, or those commercial buildings with a public interface such as MACq 01, are increasingly being constructed using timber, and chain of custody is a critical component of this public awareness.”
In addition to its eco credentials, the cypress’s sturdy characteristics and ability to ‘grey-off’ and age gracefully in a marine environment made it perfect for the location. It’s used for the cladding and decking, and for a large central vertical atrium that runs through the central space on each level of the hotel, providing an opening for natural daylight from above. Externally and internally it defines the hotel’s character.
The heritage precinct is evoked in images, words and artefacts of famous and infamous Tasmanians featured in the interior design. They were chosen from a pool of names selected out of oral histories, documents and stories gathered by local researchers and shortlisted by Louise Casey and Indigenous researcher Greg Lehman.
Local arts and crafts feature in the design as well as the decoration, and the rooms themselves are comfortable and focused on the people who will be staying in them. It’s a sense of ease that is reinforced by the connections with nature forged by the dominant white cypress.
In the words of Responsible Wood: “MACq 01 is a shining example of how timber can be used to link old and new visually while recognising the critical importance of best practice in sustainable forestry. And it pays tribute to the past without compromising our forests’ future.”
MACq 01 took the prize for Excellence in Timber Applications: Multi-Residential at the 19th Australian Timber Design Awards and was a finalist in the Australian Certified Timber category sponsored by Responsible Wood.