Designed by Taylor and Hinds Architects in close collaboration with the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, krakani lumi is a standing camp of sorts, fusing traditional building methodologies and land exploration in one sensitively carved-out formal place of refuge.
Named krakani lumi (place of rest), a series of structures emerge to serve as a refuge along a four-day guided walk in wukalina, in Tasmania’s North East National Park. These robust and bold structures form a two-night portion of the overall walk, fully owned and operated by the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania. The site fringes on the northern edge of the Bay of Fires and is situated between the starting and end points of the designated walk (from Mt William, to larapuna, finishing in Eddystone Point). The first of its kind, together with the close collaboration of user, land custodian and architect has given birth to a place that respectfiully gives homage to the First Tasmanians. Together with, and for, the Aboriginal Land Council, Taylor and Hinds helped articulate the brief and delivered a design that is responsive to and inspired by the land on which it rests.
With nods to the story-telling gatherings of the land’s past, each site within the camp is designed around of the campfire as hearth. Hidden subtely within the landscape, “the approach to the site is made from an exposed and pristine beach dune, through open coast heath that is rich in diverse flora and animal-life”, explains Taylor and Hine co-founding director Poppy Taylor. “Impossible to see until arriving, krakani lumi is enveloped deep within a grove of banksia marginata”. To add to this, “the functional components of a project of this type, its remoteness, and the siting in an area of landscape that is reliant on a regular pattern of burning, made for a quite complex series of requirements for such a small project”, she says.
Enveloped in charred Tasmanian timber, the exterior of the structures is purposed to appear “almost as shadows” in amongst the diverse and rough landscape, as a way to “camouflage the camp when not in use”, Poppy says. Responding to the naturally-occurring burning of the country, and the rebirth within those ecosystems, the charring of the timber is a physcial reference to this process. Due to the sensitivities of the site and the will to preserve the land, Poppy explains that “not a single tree was cut down in the project”, which was attributed to the fact that “the project was largely pre-fabricated off site, and air lifted via helicopter” which allowed for higher accuracy, placement on site, and ultimately reduced the impact on site enormously.
Strongly informed by the positioning on site, the materiality and formal qualities of the project are a play on concealing and revealing, in a way echoing the ideas of story-telling. The interior of the camp sites is designed to be “an initiation into the cultural and spirirtual interior of the landscape”, Poppy says. Lined in blackwood, it houses a series of essential amenities, bedding that is supplemented with qualited wallaby furs (known as ‘reore’) and scented with the essential oil of the local maleleuca ericifolia, a flower that was traditional used to aid sleep. Theshape of the dome is one that mirrors the interior of caves and “the interiors of the half-dome structures that were covered in sheets of bark with charcoal drawings of circular motifs and depictions of the constellations”. Poppy also notes that “the whole project was detailed upon a timber aesthetic, with no glass in the buildings”, as Taylor and Hinds felt this “increases the immediacy with the site – the changes in breeze, the moisture in the air, sounds and smells, are all unmediated’, making it a “very phenomenological structure”.
Completed in 2017, there was no guarantee that this project would even be realised. Taylor and Hinds’ first conversations with the Aboriginal Land Council Tasmania (and in particualr Chair, Clyde Mansell) commenced in 2012 as an extension (and enrichment) for their practice and students at UTAS, as an opportunity to work with the ALCT. A project of such intricate complexity (culturally, politically and logistically), Poppy notes “we needed to garner the trust of the council and had to carefully and clearly articular the potential of the project – and show how the architcetual ideas and detail adhered to and heightened the experience of the cultural narrative”. The success of which was “opened up by the patient and constant leadership that Clyde Mansell and Graeme Gardner (ALCT General Manager) provided, offering opportunities to engage openly with community”.
With nods to the story-telling gatherings of the land’s past, each site within the camp is designed around of the campfire as hearth.
Although the built components of this project covered only approximately 150m2, “it coincided with the negotiation of land return, and it was a development proposed within a National Park” further amplifiying the complexity of the political environment in which Taylor and Hind were operating. Poppy says, “we understood that the architecture of the project had to carefully bare witness to the cultural story. We appreciated that as we are not ourselves Aboriginal, the degree to which we might be permitted access to the community and their story could be limited. Clyde guided us through this terrain”.
Taylor and Hinds sensitivies are clear, and beautifully articulated. Representing a process of understanding and growth, krakani lumi allows for an exploration of land, beyond the political, referencing important Indigenous totems. “We knew it was possible for architecture to frame the moment that the cultural interior of the landscape is opened. In concealing and revealing in this way, the architecture protects the agency of the community in the telling of their story – on country”, reflects Poppy. “We are proud of our work for the ALCT and hope that we have honoured the stories that we were entrusted to retell in the architecture.”