The Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens has announced the winner of its design competition for a new Visitor Centre.
Five award-winning architects and their design teams were selected to propose designs for the Visitor Centre. The entrants were CHROFI, Fender Katsalidis Architects, Hassell, John Wardle Architects and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer.
At a packed function held at Annesley Bowral on Friday, 30 June, display stands and models of each entrant’s designs were on show. After guests including Wingecarribee Mayor, Clr Ken Halstead, were given time to view the displays, Member for Wollondilly, Jai Rowell, announced that John Wardle Architects was the winner.
The competition jury, comprising eminent members of the architectural profession, a landscape architect and SHBG board members, selected the winning design. SHBG Chairman Charlotte Webb said that the Visitor Centre will be a drawcard in its own right, attracting tourists and visitors and inspiring them to return to the garden regularly.
“We are confident that the Visitor Centre that emerges from the competition will become a landmark and a talking point in the Southern Highlands, creating a new gateway to a unique Highlands landscape experience and a key regional destination.” Mrs Webb said that the competition was an important step that will make development of the garden more viable.
“Development of plant collections can take decades and during that time a garden must establish a regular income stream,” she said. “Many established botanic gardens in Australia and overseas suggest that early construction of a visitor centre can provide income through retail sales and associated services as well as offering visitors a greatly enhanced experience.”
Subject to funding, construction of the centre will begin in 2018/19. John Wardle Architects will work closely with SHBG’s renowned landscape architects, Taylor Cullity Lethlean. Meanwhile, development of the gardens continues with expansion of the inscribed paver areas, completion of the Oak Rondel, installation of gravel paths, shade sail, sculptures and garden benches, as well as expansion of the birch collection and extension of the Autumn Woodland.
The professional adviser for the competition was Annabelle Pegrum AM, who collaborated with SHBG to prepare the design brief and managed the competition.