The Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Kurnell Master Plan aims to improve visitor facilities, support an increase in visitor capacity and enhance the Kurnell Precinct of Kamay Botany Bay National Park as 'a place of significance to all Australians that contributes to their sense of identity as Australians'.
Following a multistage tender process and public exhibition during October to December 2020 of 3 design options, National Parks and Wildlife Service has selected the concept design by Neeson Murcutt + Neille.
Three leading architecture firms developed conceptual layouts shown in the Master Plan into design options for the new visitor centre and major precinct infrastructure improvements. These design options built upon the themes established by the master plan and took into consideration new information relating to bushfire risk and the site's sensitive environmental and archaeological values.
Public exhibition of these 3 designs from 11 October to 11 December 2020 resulted in a total of 125 submissions. This feedback informed the Kamay 2020 Project Board's selection of the concept design by Neeson Murcutt + Neille.
The new visitor centre will occupy the site of the old visitor centre at Kurnell and will feature a timber-framed structure with rammed earth walls. New visitor infrastructure includes an accessible loop walkway through the park taking in the commemorative sculptures along the foreshore, an interpretive scientific collection garden, a dancing circle and other spaces which offer cultural education opportunities. Together, the new facilities will increase recognition of Aboriginal heritage and culture and ensure that balanced story-telling communicates our shared history.
In assessing the designs, the design review panel of architectural and landscape design experts found that:
- The design is strongly responsive to way that visitors arrive, with the centre strategically positioned at the interface of visitor/vehicle arrivals and the foreshore loop and with external elements well considered and integral to the site context.
- The design and layout are sensitive, cohesive and 'landmarks' the location without overly dominating the site. Spaces seamlessly flow from inside to out, with the main arrival 'porch' forming a clear threshold into the centre and to the foreshore loop beyond.
- The roof strategy is bold, elegant and unusual – its low and even eaves line allows it to fit well into the setting. The materiality and overall configuration is well considered and, despite the strong figurative reference, does not feel forced.
- Sustainability building design initiatives were framed as integral to the proposal.
The project team is now detailing the designs, working through the planning approvals process and preparing for the commencement of construction in late 2022.