With holiday snaps taken while hiking in Tasmania, French architect Philippe Robert reveals some special public works of Australia’s bush.
I recently had the opportunity, while hiking in Tasmania and particularly while climbing Mount Acropolis, to discover some exceptional examples of pure Australian ‘public works’ which could be interpreted as subtle flirts between nature and technology. To protect the soil and assist hikers, a series of boardwalks, steps and light bridges have been carefully installed at sensitive points along popular routes through the wilderness. Using only local materials, basically wood and stone, these structures provide a real lesson about modesty and skill; a lesson to those designers who tend to make things complicated.
Pieces of wood are used according to the qualities of their shape-for example, an S-shaped bridge made out of the two halves of a bent tree trunk.
Compared to carpentry, the assembly details are neat though simple, because these installations needed to be made in situ with rather limited tools.
I consider it a privilege to have the capacity to be equally amazed by nature and technology. As a foreign observer, I also find these works a rather relevant testimony to the Australian culture.
Philippe Robert is a Swiss architect based in Paris who now works regularly in Sydney on projects to recycle heritage buildings.
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