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Aspen without the snow


The brief was challenging: create a structure that needed to include a 92 room five-star hotel with conference and gaming facilities, a golf clubhouse and underground parking in a single expressive form that responds positively within the surrounding context and landscape of the iconic Great Ocean Road. Nonetheless, it was one that Wood Marsh Architects successfully took on and conquered with the impressive RACV resort in Torquay.

Externally, the colour palette is suggestive of a piece of weathered driftwood on a sandy beach. Local quarries were the source of materials for the stabilised rammed earth walls, married with ironbark timber facades, which will weather to a silver-grey patina and sit harmoniously within the legendary landscape. Internally, the preference has been for soft pale timbers, American white oak and Tasmanian oak combine to achieve a bleached, weathered aesthetic. However the timber-battened ceilings were created from American aspen, a rather unusual, but highly effective choice.

Roderick Wiles, from the American Hardwood Export Council says, “When we heard that aspen was to be used we were delighted, as it’s the first time it has been used in such a significant structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Aspen is a true poplar species that grows in the North Eastern USA and, famously, in Colorado.

“It’s light and soft, similar in colour to American tulipwood but less commonly used owing to its limited commercial availability and low bending classification. It is always exciting to see Australian architects explore and experiment with new materials and this is a fabulous example of how an adventurous approach in material choice can reap rewards.”

The RACV resort was opened by the Prime Minister in 2013.

Architects: Wood Marsh
Contractor: Kane
Supplier: Woodform Architectural
Timber: American aspen


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