Woodhead’s Interpretation Centre at the Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia results in a work that is consciously contradictory
The Pinnacles Desert, located in Western Australia 250km north of Perth in the Nambung National Park, consists of thousands of protruding limestone pinnacle formations spread over a vast dunal landscape. In the simplest terms possible, the rock formations are considered to be the exposed eroded remains of a formally thick bed of Tamala Limestone, which was formed over time with the combination of windblown sand and rain. Although the Pinnacles would have taken thousands of years to form in this way, it is likely that they were exposed only quite recently, within the last few hundred years. Over time, the limestone protrusions will undoubtedly be covered and exposed again by further drifting sands. In this environment, footprints are swiftly erased.
The configuration of the elements, as well as the emphasis on distinct stages of construction, directly relate to the forces at play in the landscape context. Stage 1 involved the complete construction of only the freestanding limestone walls [at which were then left to sit inconspicuously in the landscape as ‘ruins in reverse’. At the completion of Stage 2, the vertical timber elements were deliberately set on fire. This act enabled the architecture to become a registration of the role of fire in the landscape, as well as an acceptance of a different kind of future; one which willingly accepts loss and change and highlights humanity’s vulnerable position in global balance.
Architecture too often focuses on the ‘completed’ building as a finished and finessed sum of its parts. This building, attempts to interrogate such conventions by valuing process and journey over a monocular understanding of architecture as finished form.