Hot Architecture: Bay of Fires LodgeJanuary 25th, 2012
Tasmania, an island and Australian state situated about 150 miles south of the continent, is one of those rare destinations that even many seasoned world travelers never get to experience. But for those who do make it there, a stay at the Bay Fires Lodge is an opportunity to experience one of the great architectural masterpieces of the entire region.
Situated at the top of a 130-foot cliff that receives a constant pounding from the sea, and surrounded by the outstanding wilderness of National Park, Bay of Fires Lodge was conceived by entrepreneurial architect Ken Latona. Latona’s driving philosophy behind choosing the particular locale and imagining the design of the lodge was that our nomadic instincts are dormant within us; therefore, Bay of Fires Lodge is designed as the ultimate base camp for extended nature treks through the region’s rugged terrain. Built to the highest of ecologically responsible standards in an area that is of high significance to the local Aboriginal populations, the lodge is delicately nestled into its unbelievable landscape – almost invisible. Its steep slopes are coated in dry sclerphyll scrub and lead down to white sand beaches with protruding and sensuous pink granite boulders. The structure of the Bay of Fires Lodge eschews traditional, spread out, individual cottages and instead features two elongated timber and glass pavilions; the timber is Tasmanian hardwood and pine that was either air lifted in by helicopter or hand-carried in on foot for the least environmental impact possible. The pavilions are light and linear featuring curved roofs linked to outdoor spines; this architectural technique has proven to be quite effective in providing cross-ventilation and protection from the sun. The theme of light, linear pavilions has also been a fertile field of exploration in recent Australian architecture; the construction technique has been especially fruitful for inserting buildings into sensitive rural sites with minimal cut-and-fill. One of the pavilions houses the lodge’s bedrooms and library, while the other features staff rooms and communal spaces; all rooms and spaces are decidedly Spartan, in a modern and elegant way. A sprawling living area with a large timber deck and open fire is perfect for dining on meals prepared with fresh local produce and paired with Tasmanian wines – a touch of luxury that is welcome at the end of a long day of trekking.
Bay of Fires Lodge features 10 rooms and can accommodate 20 people at a time. In Tasmania, “walking season” ends in May of each year – a good thing to keep in mind when planning a visit to this original, design-forward and inviting lodge.