Architects CHROFI and Breakspear Architects are working to reimagine Echo Point Visitor Centre, designing a contemporary space that is ideal to take in the sweeping beauty of the mountains and the famous Three Sisters.
Echo Point is the main arrival point for millions of tourists that visit the Blue Mountains each year. Currently, a large triangular concrete platform filters visitors from the suburban surrounds to the lookout for the Three Sisters and the valleys beyond.
“The transition from banal to magnificent is unceremoniously abrupt, which may explain why most visits to Echo Point are a fleeting day trip stopover for a photo with the view,” say the architects.
The architects hope that the new Echo Point Visitor Centre will have a transformative effect, and become a space that elicits a change in perception with minimal architectural means.
The new form will give a sense of enclosure to what was an arbitrary expanse, creating a forecourt to welcome visitors upon arrival. A curved roof will open the platform to the bush and lead people from the vertigo of the lookout to moments of quieter contemplation in the landscape. The centre will then become a continuation of walking trails towards distant valleys.
Horizontally proportioned and gently sloping in parallel to the natural gradient, the centre is a grounded space that merges with the environment of its surrounds. It has no walls; the ceiling is an uninterrupted surface supported with minimal vertical steel columns. An operable, sinuous skin of glass will act to moderate rain and wind.
The space has been designed in collaboration with the Darug and Gundungurra Indigenous communities. At their suggestion, there will be an outdoor room for local artists to produce works where visitors can be a participatory audience. An exhibition room will display the nearby Aboriginal sacred sites without their exact location being revealed.
There will also be an open ampitheatre where visitors can listen to Aboriginal guides tell their stories, and appreciate the landscape as understood by ancient indigenous cultures.