Conference and Function Centre

It is vitally important for a botanic garden to have a significant building that will draw the visitor to begin their journey with a smile on their face. On a practical level, a building in a botanic garden provides the means to a steady income stream; the garden on its own will not raise money for operational costs.

A ‘stand out’ design

Because our focus in this community asset is to develop quality, we wanted a ‘stand out’ design for this major building. Hence, one of our early strategic decisions was to hold an architectural competition to invite some well-known Australian architects to submit a design. The winning design of our standout building is by John Wardle Architects.

The concept design is an impressive building that blends beautifully with the design of the garden itself. The building will be the primary entry point into the garden and will overlook the vista of the garden, particularly the parterre.

Read comments from the competition Jury about the building design here

The facilities

The building is designed for a range of activities to suit the visitor. Local and more distant visitors of families, friends or corporates will enjoy the building in its own right or use it as the first stop before venturing into the garden itself. For those less adventurous or less mobile, there is the opportunity to enjoy the panoramic view of the garden from a comfy position inside.

Facilities include a café, gallery in which to mingle and from which to view the garden; a hall for gatherings or functions; a greenhouse as an exhibition of an indoor garden; and a terrace for that indoor-outdoor experience. An outdoor viewing platform will give a close-up look at the garden at a height that will be a magnet for the photographer.

The gift shop and plant nursery will be a must for visitors. For those who are short on time, there is the kiosk for a quick coffee and muffin when stopping on the way to somewhere less exciting.

For corporates or private groups who want to hold a function, there are meeting rooms, a board room, as well as the hall and gallery – spaces which are all flexible and suitable for conferences, gatherings, celebrations, weddings large and small.

Environmental features

In response to SHBG’s mission to manage the garden according environmentally responsible principles, the design of the building contains many environmental inclusions. The greenhouse will act as a biome, creating a specific micro-climate that will maintain 16-220 in winter and similar to shaded outdoor conditions in summer.

The greenhouse, together with a number of features in the façade of the building, will improve the climate within the building itself with minimal electricity usage.  In addition, the design includes the construction of a geothermal heat pump, transferring heat to and from the ground, thus using the earth as a heat source in the winter or a heat sink in the summer.