Location: Maleny, Australia.

Architect: Guymer Bailey Architects Pty Ltd.

The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Discovery Centre is a popular tourist and educational destination located in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The Centre is situated in the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, which is home to the last remaining examples of the notophyll vine forest that once covered the Blackall Ranges. The Rainforest Discovery Centre is a living museum of diverse flora and fauna, including various endangered species, and reinforces the Centre’s role as a regionally significant centre for conservation, education, and partnerships. The architecture of the Centre is designed to accentuate the site and provide visitors with opportunities to experience the contrast of the wider views of the mountains to the south and the more intimate connection to the rainforest to the north and west. The building is naturally ventilated and naturally lit, and sustainability guided all aspects of the design. The low basalt stone walls that ground the building to the landscape are inspired by the buttress roots that anchor trees to the forest floor. The boardwalk that leads to the Centre was carefully re-routed to avoid the structural root-zones of existing trees, and only plant species endemic to the area were used through landscaping to eliminate the risk of weeds and pathogens. All materials used through the design were either sourced locally, salvaged from the site, or repurposed from the existing building. The landscape and architecture of the Centre connect visitors to their natural environment, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of it. The Centre encourages visitors to live more sustainably and provides an undercover outdoor seating terrace where the Reserve’s volunteers can educate students and tourists to ensure the natural assets are appreciated and respected.

Photo credit: Photography By: Scott Burrows.