Seal Bay Visitor Centre,
A sustainable approach to a regional centre
The harsh and remote eco-tourism destination of Seal Bay is one of the few places in the world where people can walk at close quarters among animals in the wild. Each year 100,000 visit the Kangaroo Island coastal wildlife sanctuary and its sole amenity, the Seal Bay Visitor Centre. At peak periods up to 1000 people a day use the Visitor Centre’s facilities and seek out information on the local wildlife and environs.
The Tectvs designed Seal Bay Visitor Centre was designed to blend with the natural environment and demonstrate energy-saving and minimal-impact principles, including solar power and composting waste management. Tectvs was engaged as the Architect for this project by National Parks and Wildlife SA to design an upgrade of the Visitor Centre that maintained its environmental integrity while improving its operational efficiency and the visitor experience, and better protecting the physical structure. It would project a new, confident identity and highlight the park’s core roles in wildlife conservation, education and interpretation.
Tectvs’s approach was to consolidate and refine the existing built infrastructure to improve interpretive displays, retail areas, visitor flow and external appearance. It maintained and expanded on the existing architecture, materials and finishes to ensure the built forms remained sympathetic to the natural environment of Seal Bay. Timber finishes matched the existing and, where possible, were sourced already weathered; paving was concrete, glazing set in timber frames and XSE decking used over existing pergolas. The interiors featured polished concrete, organic-based paints, limestone tiles, eco-ply and galvanised steel. A stronger entry statement with new signage was designed to draw visitors into a free-flowing configuration that interacted with the displays and merchandising; a new, separate exit promoted circulation through the retail area and eliminated foot-traffic bottlenecks. The design provides a sensitive architectural statement to add to the regional identity of Kangaroo Island.