Architecture - Masters



the brief

Araucaria Futures has been developed around the speculative situation of imagining post-logging/ postindustrial futures for a site located in the Imbil State Forest and near the rural towns of the Mary River Valley. Slated for decommissioning as a plantation for logging, the proposed rainforest regeneration site near Charlie Moreland camp site now becomes a litmus test; an active case study for what might come next. This site and context provided students with a rich set of inter-related and very current concerns around which to develop their own architectural speculations and propositions for the future.

Students were asked to develop a two-part building project that responds to the site’s complex and biodiverse context, speculating through their design projects on possible multi-species futures. The purpose of the architectural project is to provide facilities that support this experimental transition of the forest site, and provide for changes to the local economy, industry and culture. Student projects will be in two building components: one ‘field station’ (in or adjacent to the rainforest) and one ‘institutional anchor’ (a larger facility located in or near an existing town).

Kanyini Community and Research Centre, Institutional anchor

Kanyini Community and Research Centre combines traditional indigenous building principles with synergetic landscape design to produce a world-class research centre. Kanyini will facilitate the activities in the nearby Imbil State forest as it transitions from plantation back to endemic Southern Queensland rainforest.

Kanyini has been designed through the intense collaboration between local residents, plantation stakeholders and the indigenous peoples of the Gympie region to create a sense of kinship to the development. The building contains facilities for leading soil research to ensure a successful plantation regeneration, education facilities, and community gathering spaces with a special emphasis placed on the celebration of the native surrounding environment and indigenous culture.

The building is located in a clearing of trees already existing on site as to minimise the volume of land to be cleared. The main ‘journey’ through the building weaves and bends around the large Eucalypt and Araucaria trees sprinkled across the site. Two “arrival vistas” celebrate these beautiful, mature trees by providing a raised lookout into the canopy of these trees. Throughout the building, vistas created by corridors and doorways have been oriented to frame views of the surrounding landscape.

Kanyini harnesses the plentiful resources on site to exist, with its very walls being created from the earth removed to accommodate it. Local native species of planting have been used in abundance to encourage native flora and fauna species and local indigenous artists have provided the artwork to be featured throughout the development.

The site is located next to the historic Imbil-Brooloo Rail Trail and invites trail walkers to “stumble” across the building. A gravel path lined with native planting and boulders continues from the trail through the building and out onto a large concrete ceremony terrace where large events are held. Formal vehicular access is provided, however shielded from the main outdoor spaces to ensure the vehicles do not disrupt or distract from the picturesque surroundings.

A gravel path lined with native planting and boulders veers off from the existing path of the Imbil-Brooloo Rail Trail. This path continues from the trail through the building and out onto a large concrete ceremony terrace where large events are held similar to and including the Bunya Nut Festival, which has strong historical linkages to the area. This ceremony area connects out onto the wider landscape and is backdropped by the existing lake.
A ramp leads down to the Bush Tucker kitchen designed for demonstrations of cooking traditional indigenous food for large audiences.

The building’s orientation was chosen specifically to respond appropriately to the existing features on site, the lake being one of such features. Although the building does not block direct views to the lake from the Rail Trail, the existing vegetation obscures the view so when people walk through the building and arrive at the ceremony space and lake, it will act as a pleasant surprise.

Passing over the little stream that links these bodies of water, a Dreamtime Story Circle is lined by denser planting and rocks
to sit, creating the feeling of being in the outback huddled around a fire, telling stories and passing traditional knowledge about the land, flora and fauna down from one generation to the next.

There is a greenhouse on the upper levels to accompany soil science laboratories. This provides scientists who are conducting research in the Imbil State Forest to grow plants and species in controlled environments for the clearest results. It also allows conservationists to grow strong species in ideal conditions so that when they are transported and planted in the revegetation area, they have the highest chance of survival.
Kanyini is set one level into the earth as to not overwhelm the existing building heirarchy, Brooloo is a small, regional town with a very low housing density. The most common buildings found along the main road through town are old Queenslanders and corrogated sheds. Having a large, 3+ storey building at the vista of a historic nature trail would be inappropriate and unsympathetic to the existing character of the town.

The building structure consists of two alignments; culture and education. Spaces with predominantly cultural purposes are aligned to the east, as in indigenous design culture, the east is symbolic of new beginnings, healing and birth. Educational spaces, inclusive of science and research, are aligned according to the traditional layout of the building.

Kanyini accommodates quite a few planting beds and encourages its occupants to learn about native flora. One way this is achieved is through bordering garden beds that are risen above the inside ground floor of the building (#10). What this allows is a continuous line of soil against the building, creating the feeling of enclosure as if the earth is coming inside.


Following the Sensory Walk through the building, the second storey opens out as a void to the open sky. The void is encased by a series of laser cut patterns designed by a local Indigenous artist. Throughout the day as the sun moves, dancing shadows will be cast all throughout the building, sharing the story of the Indigenous culture through light and art.
Kanyini is encased in a striking combination of browns through the use of weathering steel and earth bricks. These rich browns tie in with the natural bush setting of the surrounding site.

The earth bricks are made on site by a mixture of existing soil from site and other congealing ingredients. This technique can be traced back to early indigenous building techniques and can be equated to ice blocks used by eskimos.

The earth bricks will be formed using soil and resources from the site, minimising embodied energy and environmental impacts. Weathering steel is very appropriate for bush design for its outstanding ability to withstand the harsh elements.


Kanyini State Forest Field Station comprises of a series of detached “pods” centering around a steel portal structure. Entry to the dwellings is through this portal structure with cut outs that frame the views of the outer plantation. Using similar material for all dwellings, monotonises the colour palette, fading into the background and highlighting the surrounds.

The site is situated on a slope which has been exaggerated through lowering the pods further into the ground. This encourages them to “disapear” into the surroundings and allow for more panoramic views across the forest.

The pods have been positioned according to aspect and framing of the landscape, with the same design principles installed in the Brooloo Community and Research Centre.

Each pod is representative of a specific purpose, and as the Community and Research Centre is in such close proximity, only temporary uses have been accommodated.

Shannon Minniss

Shannon is an experienced Architectural Graduate with a trained background in Landscape Architecture. She has over 2 years’ experience in the industry, including intricate planting design, overall masterplanning and detailed construction documentation. Having undertaken her second major in Landscape Architecture at university, Shannon strives to blend her understanding of both the built form and natural landscape to achieve seamless, integrated design outcomes. She is able to strongly convey her concept ideas through sketch design and graphic communication whilst also being equipped with the skills to clearly detail and document construction packages.