Students bring Mt Lofty visitor pavilion to life

The opening of the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens visitor pavilion. ART AND DESIGN
The opening of the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens visitor pavilion.

A visually striking pavilion in the picturesque Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens opened last month, following three years of hard work by a range of community groups and more than 170 UniSA students.

Students from architecture, interior architecture, industrial design and engineering played an important role in developing the new Chris Steele Scott Visitor Pavilion, from providing initial designs right through to constructing many of the key elements of the finished building.

Student Sam Chua, who came up with the design of the pavilion. Student Sam Chua, who came up with the design of the pavilion.

And it was Master of Architecture student, Sam Chua (pictured right), who provided inspiration behind the design of the final pavilion, which seamlessly blends into the natural landscape while also enhancing the visitor experience.

Sam’s design was selected from 100 submissions from UniSA’s School of Art, Architecture and Design (AAD). Sam, who was in the third year of his Bachelor of Architecture degree at the time, said he was grateful for the opportunity to follow the project right through each milestone, from design to completion.

“It still feels surreal that an idea for a university assignment has since become a built reality,” he said.

“Since my design was chosen, I have worked closely with UniSA academics Damian Madigan and David Morris, as well as a group of students to further develop and document the pavilion.

“I have also been fortunate enough to assist in both the University workshop and on-site during the construction phase.

“The inspiration for the design came from my first site visit; borrowing the form of the tree branch as the opportunity to imbed nature within my design. The idea then grew to embrace its lush organic context, nestling the curvature of the leaf form within the hillside, open to the views of the lake and Greg John sculpture.

“Although I am still in the very early stages of my career, this experience has been invaluable for developing my architectural skill set. I have had the opportunity to work with senior architects, participate in discussions with industry professionals, and understand working with a client, all while completing a real project.”

The Mount Lofty Botanic Garden Support Group was the driver behind establishing the visitor pavilion, after recognising the garden lacked a central facility where large groups could meet, undertake educational activities and seek shelter from the weather. The group raised more than $300,000 to get the project off the ground.

UniSA Senior Lecturer, David Morris, said the visitor pavilion offered students a valuable opportunity to work on a real-life project.

“As director of student design and construction projects over many years, I would like to acknowledge the very considerable creative effort and sheer hard work students contribute to the detailed documentation, prefabrication and on-site construction of projects like the visitor pavilion,” he said.

“The Mt Lofty Visitor Pavilion project involved UniSA students in all stages of architectural design and construction from concept designs through to detailed construction drawings, prefabrication and construction on-site.

“This process involved client briefings, design presentations, and working with structural engineers, quantity surveyors and certifiers to produce more than 40 pages of construction documents from which the building could be either subcontracted to specialist trades or constructed by students.

“Students prefabricated and assembled the storage room wall framing, internal lining, roofing and shelving and the external curved timber wall cladding and seats. The students also organised the workshop drawings for the fabrication of the stainless steel seating frames and stainless steel balustrades.

“The overall project would not have been possible without the considerable support of staff, particularly Damian Madigan, Joti Weijers-Coghlan, Mack Wilson, David Gordon, Toby Thomas, Craig English and Shane Haddy.

“Thanks in large part to the involvement of the School of AAD – particularly the enormous contribution by students – the Mount Lofty visitor pavilion project has been a huge success, resulting in a well-designed structure in one of Adelaide’s popular tourist destinations.”

Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter, who opened the new building, said the pavilion was a fine example of community banding together to achieve results in consultation with government.

“The Mount Lofty Botanic Garden Support Group initiated the project, and was instrumental in raising the funds and in-kind support to build the Chris Steele Scott Pavilion, with contributions from more than 130 donors,” he said.

“This is a fantastic achievement given the timeframe of less than two years from conception to completion.”

Some of the AAD students and staff who worked on the project.

Some of the AAD students and staff who worked on the project.