- Article by Rob Hay
Here’s a look at five projects from architecture and interior design practice Cumulus Studio, which is shortlisted in the hospitality and colour categories at this year’s IDEA.
With offices in Hobart, Launceston and Melbourne, Cumulus Studio’s work to date has helped define the architectural vernacular of Australia’s southern states.
To recognise the practice’s contribution to Tasmanian architecture, we’re taking a look at five Cumulus Studio projects that celebrate the unique climate and culture of the Apple Isle.
The extensive renovation and fit-out of a former flour mill at the intersection of the North and South Esk rivers creates a new chapter for a building steeped in almost 200 years of Tasmainian history.
The project involved the adaptive reuse of the mill’s upper floors from gallery and providore to seven luxury suites. As the survivor of a major fire and almost two centuries of wild elements, the concept of regeneration is central to the design and grounded by a sensitive approach to the original building fabric.
Surviving elements such as exposed corrugated iron and giant oregon trusses are expressed throughout the redefined interior. Flickers of the site’s past continue from the retained elements to the new, with a rich interior palette of raw timbers, deep colour and tactile finishes.
Bluestone Bar & Kitchen
Breaking free from the existing hotel restaurant footprint, Bluestone Bar & Kitchen frames heritage elm trees with elevated ceilings, broad eastern windows and extended outdoor dining.
As the name attests, interior materials reflect the geology and built context of Launceston. New visitors first notice the bluestone tile bar, finished with overhead shelving and an impressive collection of Tasmanian spirits. Soft blues then extend throughout the restaurant, offset by fine Tasmanian Oak joinery and brown leather seating.
Separated dining spaces and an intimate lighting approach cater to a range of occasions, with thin pendant lights lining the open, eastern wing while playful lamps stretch along the dark, rear walls.
Bear With Me
Formerly the site of long standing South Hobart bakery, Mondo’s, cafe Bear With Me retains references to the building’s past, while revealing the unrealised potential of its location.
The addition of space and light are fundamental to the project, led by the broad expansion of the cafe floor. To the building’s rear, views of kunanyi are framed by expansive new windows, while playful wall lighting gives the cafe added warmth and personality.
Perhaps the strongest indicator of the site’s baking history, an old industrial rangehood now exists as a unique sculptural element above the dining area. Original french panelling under the exterior windows was also retained to inform the contemporary, contrast panelling used within the cafe interior.
With a refined material palette reflecting the blue and grey hues of the surrounding natural environment, this South Asian inspired cafe seems perfectly at home in South Hobart.
When designing the cellar door for one of Tasmania’s largest vineyards, Cumulus Studio chose to highlight the stunning scenery through the creation of a unique viewing platform.
Commissioned by Brown Brothers, the project seeks to simultaneously make safe and amplify the experience of the area’s iconic views and create a new tourism experience on the East Coast of Tasmania. Associated with this, is a series of complimentary food experiences forming a local market and providing a backdrop for seasonal events.
The Cellar Door and Lookout are designed as a loose collection of timber clad buildings that, through similar in aesthetic and material treatment, form a modern interpretation of a traditional rural settlement. The Cellar Door and food market have been collected around a courtyard space that allows shelter and respite from the surrounding environment while providing views through the tasting space to the Hazards beyond and access to open deck spaces.
Through the careful placement of a series of timber clad shipping containers, visitors are invited to visually explore the landscape within and around the vineyard through curated framed views. The lookout element is a critical component of the design, not only in providing a visual signifier for the settlement but also as a way of interpreting the landscape from which the Devil’s Corner wines originate.
In the same way that an appreciation of wine can be gained through understanding its subtleties and varying in-mouth sensations, there are many ways landscape can be appreciated. The lookout plays with this idea. The three distinct spaces reference different and unique views of the site – firstly the sky, then the horizon and lastly the tower, which winds its way upward providing views to each of the compass points before culminating in an elevated and expansive view of the bay.
Originally constructed as part of a hydro electric scheme, the facility in the Tasmanian Central Highlands was built to pump water from Lake St Clair to the adjacent St Clair Lagoon and on to feed the Tarraleah Power Station. However, the project was never completed and, after half a century, the pump house was decommissioned and remained unoccupied for 20 years.
It wasn’t until a century after the establishment of the Hydro Electric Commission that the now heritage-listed Art Deco building finally whirred to life, not as a pump house, but as a unique accommodation experience suspended over a pristine lake.
Cumulus’s redevelopment encapsulates rugged simplicity and unrefined comfort. In keeping with best heritage practice and the values of the World Heritage Site in which it is located, the design is focused on environmental stewardship, sustainability and minimal site impact. To achieve this objective, new guest suites were constructed within the existing building envelopes.
Cumulus Studio has been shortlisted in the hospitality and colour categories at this year’s IDEA.
See who will win these coveted categories on 22 November at the Timber Yard in Port Melbourne. Tickets are now available. Be sure to get yours before they sell out.
Lead photo: Rosie Hastie