The Centre in its entirety (building shell, the interior including the natural features, written text and numerous art works) is a significant contribution as to how the spirit of an area, its people and their history can be interpreted to provide insight for all visitors, both tourists and Tasmanians alike.
The Centre has been described as Australia’s first magical realist building, “an ark with a novel inside” and is in essence a conservatory with a microcosm inside of all the significant events in the history of human interaction in the South West wilderness displayed in a living natural environment by recreating seemingly ordinary aspects of the past in a new context, the centre is attempting to shock people into recognition of what is magic and special about the South West Tasmania
Original architect’s statement from 1993 Tasmanian Architecture Awards Bulletin
An ‘ark containing a novel’, wrote the architectural historian Rory Spence in his 1993 critique of the Strahan Visitor Centre for the international periodical, The Architectural Review. Realised through a conjugation of literature, architecture and timber craft, the building contains a story-telling interior which is compelling both typologically and spatially.
In his appraisal, Spence continued, ‘The Strahan Visitor Centre is a challenging sensory and intellectual experience. It makes a significant contribution to the developing debate about how to interpret the environment and its history without falsifying it by pretending that re-creation or full explanation is possible.’
This seminal work redefined the engagement of audiences with the history and mythology of this island’s remote south-west regions. It experimented in forms of spatial narrative, heavily influencing the trajectory of experiential tourism, nationally.
At once beguiling and contradictory, profoundly moving, ironic, disturbing, gruesome and delightful, the Strahan Visitor Centre endures and operates uniquely in the traditions of Tasmanian space-making. It was, as Richard Flanagan provocatively suggested at the time of its completion, ‘Australia’s first magic realist building.’