Sanctuary Space

Sanctuary Space

Building Design 

“The architectural design draws inspiration from the sanctuary itself – it’s flora, fauna, landscape, history and stories which provide meaning to materials, planning and building form. The building aims to act as a portal – to transport visitors from the edge of modern suburbia into a different world where they can re-engage with the nature and experience conservation at work in the sanctuary. The sinuous rammed earth wall, recalls the importance of our land, the soil and the digging animals of the sanctuary. It creates a fence for the predators that threaten indigenous species, but also a threshold that must be passed to enter the sanctuary and leave suburbia behind. The roof over this wall hints at something to be discovered there and represents the yellow-box gum leaves providing shade and shelter in the sanctuary. Once inside, the panorama of the sanctuary opens up to visitors through its glazed windows and beckons exploration and learning in the nature play, learning garden and beyond.

Andrew Rowe – Design Director, Centrum Architects

Welcome to Coffee & Conservation

Our visitor’s centre is coming soon…

A contemporary facility that celebrates Australia’s biodiversity and a positive vision of pro-active restoration for Australia’s future landscapes. The new gateway to the Australian landscape of 250 years ago, inspiring Australians to care for wildlife.

Nestled on the urban edge, the contemporary engagement centre will showcase more than a decade of Australian Government, ACT Government, Australian National University and Community partnership, that has started to turn the tide on extinction. We will deliver a welcoming space and a unique nature engagement experience. Meet a bettong, be inspired to write, re-connect with nature, learn and share your experiences.

Brought to you by the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, the ACT Government, Odonata, the Australian National University and the Suburban Lands Agency – opening in 2020!

Landscape Design Statement

The Mulligans Flat Learning Centre landscape design takes visitors on a journey through the “storeys” of the grassy woodland.

Upon entering the site, be encapsulated in the surrounding tall trees and beautiful native grasses and flowers of the indigenous landscape. A sense of adventure and intrigue is awakened at the front door as a thin veil of mist at first distorts, then reveals the expansive landscape of the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary. Visitors are encouraged to become one with local wildlife by exploring the movements and characteristics of the Bettong, Echidna, Eagle and many more.

The design of the nature play areas begins with a story of the storeys. For an animal of the understorey, twisting burrows and shrubs, grasses and earthy textures become your world. The midstorey becomes a vibrant space where hopping, running and skipping take you on endless adventures through the dense foliage. As you emerge through the tree canopy, the upperstorey is revealed. Navigating through the canopy, the Eagle’s nest provides views of the adventures just had, the woodland and the serpentine creek, and reveals future adventures to be had in the vast Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary.

Artistic Impression - fly-through of Designs by CJArms and Centrum (produced by CJArms)

Planning the Building

The design and layout has been greatly influenced by the experience of our Sister Sanctuary Zealandia, as well as numerous field inspections by Trust staff (JC with support of a Churchill Fellowship) and Directors (AM with the support of an ARC Future Fellowship) at facilities around the world, including (but not limited to) the Harvard Forest, Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, the Bechtel Environmental Classroom, the Cary InstituteEden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, London Wetlands Centre, Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, Thurrock Thameside Visitor Centre, Slimbridge Wetlands Centre, RSPB Loch Garten, The Sill, and Langdon Visitor Centre.

Meeting with the owners and operators of these amazing places has greatly influenced the design and operational feasibility of our centre, which we believe will be a unique place in Australia.

Building Sustainability

Sustainability has been a key consideration in the passive design of the building, which will have a number of features, including:

> high internal thermal mass with rammed earth walls and eco-concrete floors,

> energy-efficient glazing,

> passive solar shading,

> future photovoltaic arrays in the carpark,

> rain-water harvesting from roof and sealed pavements for use in toilet flushing and irrigation,

> water-efficient landscaping,

> sustainably-sourced timber structure and finishes, and

> low embodied energy materials

Lose yourself in nature and find peace” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Background & Context

For some years the community supporting Mulligans Flat has had an aspiration to develop a visitor and learning centre that forms the public gateway to the Sanctuary:

  • In 2012 Professor Adrian Manning, supported by an ARC Future Fellowship, visited Harvard Forest, and came home with the idea of a ‘Woodland Learning Centre’
  • In 2013 Adrian Manning and David Shorthouse meet with the [then] Land Development Agency to discuss site-selection and engaging a concept designer
  • In April 2014 Gay Williamson and Egle Architecture published an initial concept plan – with inputs from the [then] Board of Management of Mulligans Flat, and the [then] Land Development Agency
  • In November 2015 the Land Development Agency released the Estate Development Plan for Throsby which reserved a site for a ‘Proposed Learning Centre’
  • In September 2016 an election commitment was made to support the Trust to develop the centre with $1.6M
  • In February 2017 the Trust completed some updated concepts for the different spaces, with a focus on visitor/user demands (with the support of Visit Canberra), and as part of a broader concept planning exercise for the expanded Sanctuary area
  • In July 2017 the Trust publicly advertised and completed focus group user-testing of the concepts, receiving very strong support for the ideas being presented
  • In October 2017 the Trust welcomed a project partner Odonata, who committed to match the ACT Government’s funding commitment
  • In July 2018 the Trust purchased, via Direct Sale, the crown lease for the circa 1 ha block of land
  • In November 2018 with the support of our project partners, we lodged a Development Application for the building, with all the planning approvals finalised in December 2019.

Latest News

In December 2019 all the planning approvals were in place, the designs were finalised and the builders were engaged. We are now gearing up and looking forward to welcoming everyone in Spring 2021 [delayed due Covid-19]. If you would like to review the full set of drawings, here they are:

For further information, discuss partnership opportunities, or provide feedback, please contact Jason Cummings…

Landscape Architecture by CJArms

Building Architecture by Centrum

Building Location - Rosenberg St, off Bettong Ave, Throsby, Gungahlin, Nation's Capital