Wattamolla Visitor Precinct

Wattamolla, Royal National Park NSW
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services
Concept, design + construction documentation
170 sqm
Justin Alexander
Wattamolla Visitor Amenities architecture design by CM+

In a remote location in the Royal National Park, Wattamolla is a beautiful and popular picnic and camping area, boasting a waterfall, lagoon, cove and beach. Meaning ‘place near running water’ to the traditional owners, this place is favoured by beach goers and bushwalkers alike.

CM+ was commissioned to design new visitor facilities to replace two outdated and non-compliant existing amenity blocks, and we centred our design concept on sustainability and durability through integration with the landscape, passive design principles, renewable energy and material selection.

A landscape masterplan was undertaken by Context Landscape Design, and CM+ have sensitively designed the new facilities to be consistent with the masterplan and sit elegantly within the natural bushland setting.

The new facility is sited upon the old to minimise changes to ground conditions, run-off and potential archaeology of the site. Robust materials have been selected for durability and low maintenance, leading to a simple pavilion structure of steel floating above a pre-cast concrete and timber batten base. Located in a coastal area and bushfire zone, material longevity, low impact and low maintenance were critical selection criteria.

Promoting the building function through legibility and clear, graphic signage were key components of the brief, and the facility is designed with segregation for male and female, and a shared, central communal hand wash area.

The central open space provides generous circulation and is flanked by clearly signed female and male wings with incorporated accessible (disabled) toilet. Sheltered yet open on two sides the space flows from the forecourt and opens to views of the bushland beyond above the communal washbasin. Strong graphics and the simple use of materials defines the architectural language.

Solid walls of vertical board formed pre-cast concrete provide essential privacy, with open areas and partial screening using timber battens where privacy is non-essential. The screening provides a sense of enclosure and security, whilst maintaining visibility and opportunities for passive surveillance. The verticality of the patterns created in the concrete and timber is reinforced by the steel columns supporting the roof structure, and in counterpoint to the horizontal roof plane over. The structure has been designed to maximise pre-fabrication due to the remote location.

The large clear spanning steel roof structure is set above the top of the concrete walls allowing natural ventilation and daylight to penetrate. Strong circular steel columns support the roof and sit outside the concrete base, providing clear definition of building elements. Circular skylights maximise daylight to the interior, with an array of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof providing renewable energy.

Internally, stainless steel, timber, terrazzo and concrete inform the palette, which is accented with durable and sustainable high-pressure laminate panels in shades of green. Functionality of the fittings and fixtures was paramount in a remote location.

The simple natural materials of the building have been selected to age well over time in this extreme environment, providing an enduring facility for visitors to the beach and surrounding bushland.