GASP Stage 1 by Room 11 Studio
Urban Design: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
In a simple but powerful gesture, GASP inscribes an arc around Elwick Bay on Hobart’s Derwent River. This arc becomes a delightful walkway that offers shifting spatial experiences and environmental conditions along its length – one walks within the reeds, along the edge of terra firma and across the water between small inlets and the river.
GASP demonstrates a clever understanding of landscape and scale. The colourful, shimmering line reads effectively at multiple scales – seen at a distance across the water (from MONA), in motion from a car speeding along the arterial road, and ambling along on foot or bicycle. In turn, the pathway and the pavilions that punctuate it provide changing views of distant and close landscapes.
GASP brings a fresh perspective to this part of the city, linking it into broader urban networks (connecting, for example, to the inner-city cycleway), while also re-establishing the area as a destination in its own right. As a result, this forgotten, neglected shoreline – which had been severed from the life of the community by roads and the remains of infrastructure – is once again appreciated and valued.
The path itself is built in a robust, straightforward manner, but the clever use of colour lifts it far above the everyday. These vibrant, shifting tones work surprisingly well with the natural environment and are tempered through the use of natural timber surfaces within the pavilions. Here, in these spaces for pause and leisure, materials and details are more refined.
The project is “raw,” yet also subtle and sophisticated. Completed on a tight budget, it makes a rich and layered urban contribution with minimal means.