02 March, 2020

Tasmanian architecture we love, from colonial to contemporary

It’s not just design and architectural devotees who are stopped in their tracks by these remarkable buildings.

Georgian grace. Victorian extravagance. Art Deco elegance. Mid-20th century industrial design reinterpreted. Daring contemporary structures. Tasmania has all this and more. Plus, some of the state’s best architecture and interior design can be enjoyed while you see some art, watch a show, eat, drink or settle in for the night.

Mona: a modern marvel

Will you visit Mona for the astonishing art? To enjoy the restaurants, bars and winery, or even the luxe accommodation? Whatever takes you there, this ever-expanding site’s design is also an essential part of the experience.

Carved into a cliff overlooking the River Derwent, below two heritage-listed 1950s buildings, this complex is mostly underground – though its subtle resemblance to a hilltop Greek temple is apparent from the water. Its vast subterranean interior is like a labyrinth, with bold surprises including a seemingly endless spiral staircase and 140-metre-long sandstone wall formed by the cliff face. If you're into edgy design don’t miss Mona’s shop.

Mona (Image: Mona)
Mona (Image: Mona)

Old meets new at Design Tasmania

The epicentre of Tasmanian design, including jewellery, ceramics and Australia’s only museum collection of contemporary wood design, this Launceston institution has a building worthy of its treasures. Alongside Design Tasmania’s shop in the 1896 Price Memorial Hall is a purpose-built annex of exhibition spaces. Listed among the world’s top 1000 contemporary buildings in the 2004 Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary Architecture, this simple yet innovative structure was mainly built using local materials including wood and stone.

Design Tasmania (Image: Design Tasmania)
Design Tasmania (Image: Design Tasmania)

Clarendon: Tasmania’s Tara

Fronted by four soaring columns, this grand 1838 mansion near Launceston is reminiscent of Gone With the Wind’s plantation house, Tara. A three-storey home built for a wealthy pastoralist, Clarendon epitomises gracious Georgian style. Visitors to this National Trust property are invited to sit on valuable antique furniture in the dining and sitting rooms, and touch other sumptuous interior design features and period artworks. The rest of the house, as well as outbuildings and formal gardens, reveal more fascinating heritage design.

Clarendon Estate (Image: Clarendon Estate)
Clarendon Estate (Image: Clarendon Estate)

Theatre Royal and her cool new neighbour

Hobart's Theatre Royal opened in 1837, making it Australia’s oldest working theatre. This grand old dame recently emerged from major renovations that enhance her heritage beauty and embrace the 21st century. Key to this is The Hedberg, a new cultural complex that links to each level of the Theatre Royal. Featuring state-of-the-art performance spaces, the new home for the University of Tasmania’s Music program and green rooftops, this contemporary wonder with a patchwork facade is built around the 1925 red-brick Hedberg Brothers garage.

Theatre Royal (Image: UTAS)
Theatre Royal (Image: Design by Liminal Architecture with WOHA architects. Rendering by Doug + Wolf)

Tarraleah: an Art Deco village reborn

Built in the 1930s for workers constructing Australia’s first hydro-electric scheme, Tarraleah is classic California bungalow Art Deco. Having served its purpose by late last century, this village was reborn as a heritage resort amid Central Highlands wilderness in 2006. The workers cottages were restored and furnished to enhance their period style, while the chalet, where company directors and engineers once stayed, has been transformed into a boutique hotel, Tarraleah Lodge.

Silo hotel’s industrial chic

Built in 1960, the Kings Wharf grain silos and wool store by the Tamar River sat unused and unloved for years until their recent transformation into Peppers Silo hotel. Half of this luxury hotel’s 108 rooms are actually inside the silos, whose curves are in contrast with the new, rectangular north tower. Recycled wood from the wool store features throughout the interior, which has a modern, industrial-meets-earthy look. Admire this revitalised Launceston landmark from the waterfront, pop into the day spa or Grain of the Silos restaurant, or even stay overnight.

Peppers Silo (Image: Shipwreck Photography)
Peppers Silo (Image: Shipwreck Photography)

Look out! It’s Devil’s Corner winery

The most memorable winery experiences often include delicious views. That’s certainly true at Devil’s Corner, where a lookout is part of its 2016 Tasmanian Architecture Award-winning visitor experience. This tower rises up from the landscape, offering epic vistas of Freycinet Peninsula’s Hazards mountains and azure sea. Below the lookout are the cellar door’s collection of timber-clad shipping containers and wooden deck, designed to create framed views across the vines and beyond. This group of structures recall timeless rural heritage aesthetics while also being truly 21st century.

Devils Corner (Image: Devils Corner)
Devils Corner (Image: Devils Corner)


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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