The Eden Welcome Centre is a maritime, cruise and tourist facility that heralds a new era for tourism in Eden and the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales. The Centre consists of two floors with an approximate size of 1000m² and is located on the fishermen’s co-op site at the wharf in Eden. This project, designed by Cox Architecture, was one of four finalists in the Public Building category of the 2022 Sustainability Awards and was honoured with the Highly Commended title. Siniat proudly sponsored this category in the 2022 edition of the awards.

We spoke to David Holm from Cox Architecture to find out more.

Congratulations to you and your team for making the shortlist! Was sustainability always an important consideration in the design of this project?

We always wanted to express the local vernacular of Eden and the Sapphire Coast so, working with and expressing timber was a key part of our original concept design thinking.

What were the unique challenges you had to overcome with this project?

We had to produce our design and documentation in order to go to a traditional tender, whilst at the same time retaining the flexibility to adapt to timbers that may be found for inclusion into the final works. This contradiction meant that we had to be flexible in the way we handled our final detailing and on-site services to allow for change for the benefit of the project.

There has been a strong focus on people with this project right from the start and the original brief. Was ‘social sustainability’ a consideration in the design?

One of the key attributes of the briefing process was that the new design needed to represent the people and the character of Eden. The usage of timbers, especially recycled, allowed the design to reflect the character or ethos of the area: Hardworking, honest and dependable. These design endeavours formed the basis of our thinking both as architects and as a collective consultant and client team to establish a common goal for the broader community.

Sustainability is becoming a strong driver in architecture and the construction industry. Do you think manufacturers are doing enough to deliver sustainable building materials that are also cost-effective to the market?

There is always more to be done. We would encourage further reuse within design. Recycled material development should be a key research agenda to ensure that we maximise reuse whilst delivering to standards of safety and compliance as applicable.

What will winning an award with a sustainability focus mean for you and your team?

The users and operators of the Eden Visitors Centre, many of whom are volunteers and locals, are very proud of the design achieved for the community. They feel as if they have been an integral part of the design and delivery process. Every public acknowledgement and award will further reinforce their sense of community, pride, and inclusion.

Imagery supplied by Cox Architecture and photographed by John Gollings