Woods Bagot has been engaged by the University of Tasmania to restore the heritage-listed former Forestry Tasmania headquarters in Hobart to its full, lush, green glory.

Located on Melville Street, the property consists of two original warehouse buildings built in the 1930s with an iconic glass dome added in the 1990s during its award-winning restoration designed by architect Robert Morris-Nunn.

However, the historic domed buildings had fallen into disrepair with Forestry Tasmania vacating the premises in 2017. Following the acquisition by the University of Tasmania in 2018, it was decided to restore the buildings and transform them into a modern learning and teaching facility as part of the University’s Southern Campus Transformation, as it relocates its premises from the current Sandy Bay Campus into the Hobart CBD.

Morris-Nunn, who is also Adjunct Professor of the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Tasmania, is a major advocate for the University’s move into the city, saying the benefits for the CBD and the University were enormous.

Woods Bagot is working with Morris-Nunn in their plans for the building’s next chapter, which also include replanting the spectacular indoor forest in the atrium under the dome.

“The dome was built in the 1990s, added on to an existing structure that dates back to the 1930s, and that dome has been deemed to have enough merit that it is now included in the overall heritage listing for the building,” Morris-Nunn says.

The Forestry Building will form part of the new ‘Midtown’ precinct of the city campus and will house students and staff across the Law, Business and Economics departments.

According to Morris-Nunn, the ethos of repurposing old buildings evolved earlier in Tasmania than anywhere else in Australia.

“And that is a really positive thing, not just because it shows that people here love their old buildings, but also because the recycling aspect is very important. And about half of the University’s projects for this transformation are recycled or refurbished projects of one kind or another.”

Campus Transformation Executive Director, Phil Leersen, says the design will acknowledge Hobart's architectural language and forms, while adhering to sustainable design principles.

“We are creating a very sustainable and beautiful building by retrofitting an existing space with a low carbon and circular design that makes extensive use of timber,” he says.

“The design celebrates Hobart’s architectural heritage, scale and character. The building will provide great contemporary learning spaces for students that support our mission to make higher education more accessible. We are delighted to be restoring community access to an iconic Hobart space for everyone to enjoy. By bringing a major disused building back to life, we will bring vitality and character to this part of the city."


Image: The former Forestry Tasmania headquarters with the iconic dome (Photo: University of Tasmania)