Krakani lumi / Taylor and Hinds Architects
In the modern palawa kani dialect that consolidates several Tasmanian Aboriginal languages, “krakani lumi” has a dual meaning, translating as both “resting place” and “place of rest”. It is the name for a standing camp, sited deep in the wukulina / Mt William National Park in the northeast of Tasmania. It endures as a series of scattered pavilions, permanent, yet lightly touching and disturbing the earth. Fringing the northern edges of the Bay of Fires, it serves as a two night stop over for a four-day guided walk through the cultural landscape, from wukulina, to larapuna – Eddystone Point, an area that is ecologically and culturally significant to the Aboriginal people of Tasmania. Taylor and Hinds Architects have designed this standing camp over a number of years in close consultation with the Land Council, and the broader Tasmanian Aboriginal community. The brief required accommodation and communal facilities for 2 guides and 10 walkers. Importantly, it is the first walk of its kind in Tasmania that is entirely owned and operated by the first people of the land.
To begin, one should see Tasmania for what it is, a gothic place; alongside its raw beauty, it carries an atmosphere of exile, remoteness and foreboding. The island has sustained the cultural life of its aboriginal people for more than 40,000 years. This period of occupation was severely ruptured with the colonisation of the Imperial British in the early 19th Century, and with it, broad scale dispossession was brought upon the lives of the first Tasmanians – who call themselves “palawa”.
The northeast of Tasmania was the final frontier of colonial dispossession of the palawa. This land is a cultural landscape for the Aboriginal community; steeped in meaning and evidence of millennia of occupation, the ecology of this particular region is dependent upon regular cycles of burning; a pattern entrenched by the cultural practice of fire farming over hundreds of generations. The area is ecologically diverse, the water azure, and the climate temperate; it is a gently undulating and open scene, of low heath and peppermint gum forests and unremarkable in its topographical silhouette. In 1830, Mannarlegenna, the last remaining tribal chieftain of this area, struck an agreement for a temporary relocation of his people from their traditional lands, to the Furneaux Islands. Found as a false treaty and ultimately denied an opportunity to fully practice his culture, he was buried heartbroken and homesick with 300 others in unmarked graves. It was the generations that followed – against the odds – that have now created a flourishing and strong community. These descendants, the current Tasmanian Aboriginal community have fought long and hard for the return of their land, and for the right of recognition of their culture.
This story of the dispossession of the palawa land is at the centre of this project. For krakani lumi acts primarily as a place for the telling of the stories of Tasmania’s Aboriginal people, but also as a means of returning these lands to the custodianship of the Aboriginal community.
Arriving from the coast, single file pathways zigzag their way through the coastal heath, directing one away from the beach. Impossible to see until arriving, krakani lumi is enveloped deep within a grove of banksia marginata. The individual structures clad in charred Tasmanian timber appear as a series of discrete shadows without an object to form them. They merge themselves with the darkness of the surrounding dense banksia, camouflaging the camp when it is not in use. When adjacent, the exterior appears robust and tautly detailed, the materiality showing resilience to the corrosive sea air and general tampering. The six individual and one communal pavilion are sited and detailed to minimise impact to native flora and fauna. Individual buildings were constructed in modules and carefully airlifted into place. Reconciling the borrowed space on the land, small hollows have been made within the wall cavities to allow occupation by endemic birdlife and other hollow-dependent marsupials. The site is off-grid and powered by a solar array and diesel generator back up. Aboriginal rangers selected its location and is oriented east, picking up on morning sun sited in the lee of the sea breeze
The zigzagging pilgrimage terminates at the campsites central pavilion (eating and bathing pavilion), which is mirrored against an external fireplace. A sliding door reveals an excavated mouth lined in glowing Blackwood shingles. The proportions and materiality of this vaulted space mimic the siting, form and qualities of the traditional seasonal shelters of Tasmania’s first peoples. Except this time, it appears as a negative, a contemporary Boolean interior. Ingeniously, the space between inner dome and the Blackwood outer lining conceals space for solar batteries, utilities and pulley mechanisms. This form is then mimicked in the other six dual-person sleeping huts, which contain pulley mechanisms to open up the domes to the coastal sky.
Leading from the central excavated space of the communal pavilion, an offshoot hallway leads one to the dining and bathing spaces that have neatly packed all the necessities for the two-day stop over on the site. Inside from floor to wall to ceiling, the interior is entirely lined in locally sourced Tasmanian oak. Silvered bulbs light up the timber interior at night, and during the day, instead of glass, solid panels and screens are used for extra protection and temper the light and emit a soft glow.
The hero of this project exists within the open spatiality of the traditional half dome form that amplifies the experience of dwelling within a larger landscaped room. To the first peoples of Tasmania, the telling of creation is a speaking into being of country; an initiation into the cultural and spiritual interior of the landscape. This contextual response and coordination with the desires of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, exemplify the notion of the story-telling interior. It is through the revelation of the interior, a story of concealing and revealing is told, which belongs to the privileged cultural experience alone. The protective mode created by the exterior charred ‘skin’ of the pavilions ensures agency to the Aboriginal community in the telling of their story.
Where traditional shelters of Tasmania’s Aboriginal peoples, rarely had a lifespan exceeding a season and consequently were not attached or embellished with symbolism and decoration, it is in the unembellished, raw and economical form that creates the powerful symbolic space of the krakani lumi. Through a permanent and contemporary form, the architecture of Taylor and Hinds Architects navigates the symbolic space of the traditional and temporary bark shingled shelters of the first peoples of the land. In stasis, the architecture lightly touches the earth; concealed in the banksias it nods to the cultural importance of a care for country. In use, the pavilions open up to reinterpret the presence of the past and through a story-telling interior, rouse memories into the present. .
|CITY||Mt William National Park|
|ARCHITECT||Taylor + Hinds Architects|