A key pillar of the Falls Creek Resort Management Board philosophy is the repositioning of the Falls Creek offer from not just another place to ski, but a truly “All Seasons” alpine resort, with as much reason to visit in summer as in the winter. The design brief to Tract was a clear expression of this philosophy in a new “All Seasons Gateway” including a new village green/piazza for the local community and visitors and a ski lift pass ticketing office adjacent the new St Falls residential mixed use development,
The site has over time been cleared, benched and leveled, primarily for vehicular access and snow clearing and access operations and whilst a layer of snow in winter can conceal this and indeed provide much charm, the unfortunate reality for tourists travelling on the Great Alpine Road in summer, is a featureless “moonscape”, devoid of any vegetation and focused on forlorn ski lift infrastructure. The site is completely at odds with the magical snow gum timbered high plains and seems to rely on an expectation that “the village comes to life in winter”. Tract also interrogated the origin of the name Falls Creek, and as far as we could ascertain there were no creeks in the vicinity with this name.
Tract’s site analysis identified the confluence of two creeks (long since undergrounded) that once existed at the location of the subject site. The indigenous people recognised this as a special place, as it is said to be the source of the Bogong moth, a much sought after food delicacy which seasonally swarms in abundance on the high plains.
Tract’s concept for the All Seasons Gateway Resort adopts and celebrates the indigenous people’s story of place. This legend is the basis of a new identity and character created through a reinstatement of the creeks and highlighting falling water as the primary summer and winter focal point.
Functional issues of access, circulation and way finding, (pedestrian, skier, over snow, vehicular etc.), and snow operations/ticketing were collaboratively worked through with FCRM and resolved with a tiered amphitheatre defining the place and a major “ceremonial” staircase channeling pedestrians from the village directly into the piazza. A gas fuelled fire pit in the round with generous seating provides a focus for skiers in winter whilst recalling peoples earliest connections with fire through security, warmth and cooking.
The bubbling mountain stream is referenced with a contemporary arrangement of pondages and cascades. The upper tier of the amphitheatre (also a DDA ramp) is the source of a 30m long waterfall, harnessing the water from the existing underground creek which then falls spectacularly into the water feature at the base. An abstract pattern inspired by Bogong Moth swarms is laser cut and backlit in the corten wall behind the waterfalls. Up lighting of the water wall at night provides a delightful backdrop to enhance the resort experience in all seasons whilst providing a sense of delight and containment of the space.
The result is a well scaled, multipurpose space with the ability to stage a wide range of events in all seasons. These could include village community functions such as carols by candlelight, or special organised events such as concerts, promotional gatherings, snow sports demonstrations and live music concerts. Alternatively the place can revert to a simple, attractive open space focused on a babbling mountain brook and waterfall for people of all ages and small to large groups to gather and recreate.
The concept also provides a physical expression of the name Falls Creek.
The FCRM met with members of the local tribe, and received endorsement of the concept prior to construction. The ASGP is understood to have had overwhelming positive public endorsement after the official opening on Queens Birthday 2011 by the then State Minister, the Hon.Mr Tim Holding.