Overview

EnvIronmentalTourism

Client
Phillip Island Nature Parks

Collaborators
Terroir
Wood & Grieves
Woods Bagot

Disciplines
Landscape Architecture

Location
Phillip Island, VIC

Date
2020

Imagery
Robyn Oliver Photography
Graham Hosking

Awards

Visitor Centre
2021 AILA Landscape Architecture Award – Tourism (VIC)

Penguin Plus Viewing Experience
2016 AILA Award of Excellence – Tourism (National)
2016 AILA Award of Excellence – Tourism (VIC)
2016 United Nations Association of Australia – 2016 World Environment Day – Infrastructure Innovation Award

Masterplan
2014 AILA Landscape Architecture Award – Planning (VIC)

The Summerland Peninsula is one of Victoria’s oldest eco-tourism and recreation destinations and is home to the number one natural wildlife attraction in Australia, the Penguin Parade.
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The Summerland Peninsula, at the western tip of Phillip Island, is a landscape with unique ecological, scenic and cultural values.  It has always been a visitor destination, but this is a fragile coastal landscape that, in places, is subject to very high levels of use from both tourists and locals.

A legacy of outdated infrastructure resulted in a scenario which had the potential to adversely impact the visitor experience of the Penguin Parade, the ecology of the Summerland Peninsula and the reputation of Philip Island as a tourist destination.

In 2010 we commenced a series of projects for the Phillip Island Nature Parks, the first project established a Strategic Framework Plan for the Summerland Peninsula, defining a new value system for the site and ways in which the site could be managed as an integrated cultural, ecological and recreational landscape.

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The subsequent Penguin Parade Master Plan developed new site planning principles, site design and ecological rehabilitation models to meet contemporary conservation, recreation and eco-tourism needs and to make the best of a small and physically constrained site.

The Nature Parks Design Guidelines manual continued to develop a values-driven, and place-specific approach to the design, development and management of conservation and eco-tourism resources within a modern parks network.

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The Penguin Plus Visitor Experience represented the first constructed feature to put into effect the design principles and values that had developed from earlier work. The facility combines new boardwalk systems, contoured viewing locations and a new underground viewing room to create a world class wildlife viewing destination provide a unique visitor experience that in every way captures the spirit and the values of the place and the organisation.

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The main design strategy was to embed all of infrastructure within the landscape to create a unique visitor experience.

The Penguin Parade Visitor Centre project demonstrates how a well-structured and values driven analysis and design process can transform the approach of an organisation, and lead to the highest quality on-ground design outcomes – design outcomes that have improved, through multiple design projects, the ecological function of the site, the quality of the visitor experience and commercial performance.

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The designed landscape provides other ways of interacting with the site landscape.  A boardwalk system follows newly created wetlands, a gathering space with tiered levels provides a setting for Traditional Owner storytelling and dance or an outdoor classroom.  Building edges provide seating, viewing and children’s activity or temporary event spaces.

The landscape design is never concerned with formal design treatments and furniture.  It is always about expressing the qualities of the coastal environment and making people adapt to that landscape, and to understand in different ways the forces that have shaped this special place.

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The design was the culmination of over 9 years work on various projects with Nature Parks and the design was based on the key design principled established in Tract’s Summerland Peninsula Masterplan.
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