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Mon Repos Turtle Centre wins architecture prize

Mon Repos Turtle Centre
Mayor Jack Dempsey at the opening of the new Mon Repos Turtle Centre.

The Mon Repos Turtle Centre built by Bundaberg firm Murchie Constructions has won a prize at the 2020 Queensland Architecture Awards.

The modern building dedicated to the conservation of the endangered loggerhead turtle was awarded the Queensland Architecture Medallion for its innovative design and environmentally minded construction.

Local builder Murchie Constructions delivered the project.

Jury chair and director of COX Architecture, Richard Coulson, described the winning design as contributing to the progress of architecture in Queensland.

“This unique condition has inspired a project that explores structural, sustainable and expressive strategies to produce a modestly scaled but significant Queensland building,” said the jury.

“The building develops parallel strategies that minimise the effect on the turtle nesting and migration, prioritises a construction system that minimizes waste and disruption to the site, a building skin that minimizes energy use, and materials that focuses on building life span.

“The overall affect is of a building that is in harmony with the site.”

Bundaberg Regional Council delivered essential infrastructure for the Mon Repos Centre.

Construction of the new Mon Repos Turtle Centre. Photo: Murchie Constructions

Council supplied the site with water services and built a new sewer pump station as part of its $1.5 million contribution.

The 1000sq m facility’s innovative cross-hatched frame – similar to the plates of endangered loggerhead turtles – was built last year using renewable, locally sourced glued-laminated timber.

All the timber beams were manufactured by Hyne Timber at their GLT Plant in Maryborough.

The building's design allows visitors to view breeding turtles and hatchlings unobtrusively.

KIRK director Richard Kirk said it was both a privilege and a challenge to craft the globally recognised research centre in the marine conservation area.

“We wanted to protect and enhance the area’s natural beauty through architecture,” he said.

“We focused on sustainability and resilience to protect both the turtles and the landscape, while creating an immersive experience for visitors in the Turtle Centre building.”

The largest loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific is located at Mon Repos. Photo: Mon Repos Turtle Express

The building also received the Sustainable Architecture Award.

While Mr Kirk said the Queensland Architecture Medallion was of great significance to the team, sustainability was at the heart of their organisation.   

“I think every building has to be rooted in this endeavour to use materials responsibly and to build well for the long term so that’s something we are very passionate about, so for us this is the most important award to receive.”