Whale-shaped marine observatory reveals life below the waves
Baca Architects has been hired by marine contractor Subcon to lead the design of the new Australian Underwater Discovery Centre (AUDC). Reached by jetty, the building will be situated 2 km (1.2 miles) out from the shoreline and will be partially submerged under the water, offering visitors a fantastic view of life around the sea bed.
Bringing to mind Snøhetta's Under – indeed, engineering duties are being handled by the same team behind that ambitious underwater restaurant, CoreMarine Engineering – the AUDC will be located at the end of the existing Busselton Jetty, which is south of Perth, Western Australia. The project is actually replacing a similar underwater observatory on the site that's too small to meet demand. The aim is that once complete, it will be the world's largest natural marine observatory.
Its overall form is inspired by a whale, with its "head" rising out of the water. The interior will measure 900 sq m (roughly 9,680 sq ft) and feature lots of glazing offering visitors views of the sea life. There will also be art on display inside, an underwater restaurant, and some kind of exhibition educating people about ocean climate change, as well as some underwater sculptures out on the sea bed.
"The approach to the resort will take guests through a landscaped sequence from their moment of arrival, where they will leave their car behind in a park graced with rain gardens," says Baca Architects' press release. "Once inside the AUDC, visitors can embark on a unique journey towards the ocean floor level observatory. Passing through art gallery and exhibition spaces on the descent, the circulation is accentuated by the 'Cetecean's' eye - a large partially submerged structural glass window which recalls a whale peeking up above the ocean surface."
Baca Architects already has lots of experience with water-based and water-adjacent architecture and the project has a budget of AUD 30 million (roughly US$23 million). It's expected to be completed by December, 2022.
Source: Baca Architects