Makers' Workshop is a hub for creative paper production, local artisans and a celebration of the region's history
Makers’ Workshop on the coast of Australia’s southern-most State of Tasmania is a major investment by the regional industrial town of Burnie (pop. 20,000) in their post-industrial future. Burnie’s history is inextricably linked to large scale industries and port services, including a massive pulp and paper mill. Recently the town has forged a reputation for creative, quality paper products, including local initiative Creative Paper. Burnie’s rural heritage, as a gateway to Tasmania’s north-west farming lands, displayed in a 'Pioneer Museum', was proposed to be combined with the creative enterprise in a visitor centre containing both memory of the past and speculation about the future. Given this was the first significant cultural investment in the town for decades; TERROIR pursued the idea of Makers’ Workshop as a 'living room' for the people of Burnie.
A five spoke diagram is centred on the central orientation hub – the living room - featuring items from the museum’s collection. Each spoke houses a different function orientated toward a different aspect of the city and landscape: back of house, paper making workshop, multi-purpose exhibition/theatre, café and a combined retail / gallery space.
The building is contextually part of the collection of industrial objects along the coast, re-imagined as a set of giant 'toys.' Maker’s is a lighthouse perched above the beach, a sentinel for passing ships and locals, with the polycarbonate cladding providing an ever-changing façade. The interior ‘plays’ on the shipping containers and large portside woodchip pile, via lime-stained composite timber lining to the central ‘living room’. Materials, finishes and systems were selected for their contribution to a sustainable future, including alternate power sources, automated controls, web-based monitoring of energy consumption and performance, and rainwater harvesting.
The 1,500 sq m project’s completion in November 2009 was a remarkable 15 months from the initial briefing, largely due to the strong and clear vision for the project and its ownership by all stakeholders and participants.