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Our BatchGeo world MAP shows the locations of green architecture, green building and renewable energy projects featured on Solaripedia.

Project

Southern Ocean Lodge (Kangaroo Island, SA, Australia)

Credits: ©2008 Architectural Record/Raul Barreneche

Architect Max Pritchard nestles a sinuous, low-rise, energy-efficient structure on a cliff overlooking the dazzling waters of the Southern Ocean. Aussies love to tout Kangaroo Island as “Australia’s Galapagos.” This wild, sparsely populated island, 9 miles off the coast of South Australia, has only 4,500 residents but a vast population of koalas, sea lions, fur seals, ospreys, parrots, penguins, wallabies, and, of course, kangaroos. More than one third of the 90-by-35-mile island is protected as national park or wilderness conservation areas. As a destination, it draws nature lovers and ecotourists as well as wine connoisseurs for its more than 2 dozen vineyards.

 

Southern Ocean Lodge Rainwater Collection (Australia)

The Lodge is independent of main services: rainwater is collected, electricity is generated on site and waste water is treated by a unique organic waste treatment system. The guest suites are constructed of light weight materials that could be carried in, minimizing site disturbance. Foundations are steel screw piles, framing is timber, cladding is iron and fibre cement, and flooring is recycled timber and stone at Southern Ocean Lodge in Australia ©2009 Sam Noonan

Kangaroo Island’s accommodations were limited in size and sophistication until the opening of Southern Ocean Lodge in March. Sydney-based owner Baillie Lodges, operator of high-end boutique resorts, hired Adelaide architect and Kangaroo Island native Max Pritchard to design a 21-room hotel that gives a luxurious twist to sustainable design. Understandably, residents of the unspoiled island were up in arms over the prospect of a resort in their midst. The owners and architect held public forums, presenting their plans for ecofriendly materials and construction methods to minimize intrusion on the delicate landscape. “Fortunately, the state government was supportive,” says Pritchard, since it wanted accommodations comparable to other destinations. Only 21⁄2 acres, or 1 percent of the sprawling, 252-acre site, was cleared; a protective covenant bars future development.

Program
The lodge commands the crest of 130-foot-tall limestone cliffs on the island’s rocky southwestern shore, overlooking the Southern Ocean. To minimize its visual and environmental impact, Pritchard nestled the single-story structure into scrubby coastal bush, choosing fluid, organic forms and a palette of locally quarried limestone, glass, and steel in muted blue-gray. Public spaces — the lobby, restaurant, and vast lounge — are contained within a curving wing wrapped in walls of floor-to-ceiling glass offering dramatic views of the sea and rocky coastline. To the west of the main lodge is a freestanding spa, a tidy cylindrical structure with limestone and glass walls, reached by a winding wood walkway overlooking the sea. To the east are guest rooms, all oceanfront, arranged along a single-loaded, 623-foot-long breezeway winding down from the public areas along a fairly steep hillside. “The suites sloping down toward the sea make the building seem like another stratum of the rock face,” suggests Pritchard.

Solution
Pritchard stuck to lightweight materials that would be economical to transport to such a remote site and would minimize disturbance to the landscape during construction. Building on precarious soil conditions — 3 to 10 feet of sand atop solid limestone — led the architect to an innovative foundation system: Galvanized steel screw pilings are drilled through the sand and anchored into the limestone substrate. A small excavator on rubber tracks, fitted with a large drill attachment, drove the steel pilings into the stone, stopping when a sensor determined the piles were sufficiently anchored. Steel plates were attached atop the steel piles, and a timber frame (solid wood I-beams of plantation-grown South Australian pine with plywood web joists) erected on top. In the guest-room wing, floors are lightweight aerated concrete planks with radiant heating; in the breezeway and dining area, reclaimed wood salvaged from old warehouses and jetties takes over. Environmental concerns as well as the remote, off-the-grid location led Pritchard to a host of green solutions. Large galvanized-steel tanks, part of the rural Australian vernacular, are paired like sculptural elements alongside the breezeway to collect up to 400,000 gallons of rainwater. (The goal is for the lodge to be self-sufficient with water an average of four out of every five years.) Wastewater and sewage are treated by an organic, worm-based system and dispersed through an underground irrigation system. Hot water comes via ground-source heat pumps; electricity is supplied by both roof-mounted photovoltaic panels and decidedly less-ecofriendly diesel generators.

Commentary
The arrangement of guest rooms in a long, rambling, single-story wing certainly reduced the building’s visual impact on the ground-hugging landscape. But the walk to one’s room is annoyingly long and uncomfortably steep, as is the trek uphill to the lounge and restaurant. The farthest room is the most luxe: the 1,300-square-foot Osprey Pavilion, with 180-degree views, an open fireplace, and a plunge pool on the terrace. Louvered windows along the corridor face north, the sunny orientation in the Southern Hemisphere. The breezeway becomes uncomfortably hot and sunny by day, even with all the louvers open, and chilly at night as the built-up heat radiates into the treeless terrain. The lobby-lounge is meant to be cozy and comfortable, but its vast scale and chilly, impersonal décor make it feel like a giant furniture showroom. Luckily, the spectacular views entice one to linger a bit.

Exterior cladding:
Materials: Pre coated corrugated sheet steel
Fibre cement and limestone
Roofing: Metal: Pre coated sheet steel
Windows: Aluminum - powder coated
Special surfacing: Timber flooring is recycled hardwood used in Dining area of Lodge and in Breezeway/link to Suites.
Furnishings: Furniture Design and Manufacture was Khai Liew - selected pieces in Lodge
Plumbing: Water Tanks - storage capacity of 1,200,000 litres


Documents

  Southern Ocean Lodge Press Release (49 kb)