The Australian Garden is a 25-hectare contemporary botanic garden in the outer-Melbourne suburb of Cranbourne.
It was designed by landscape architects TCL, who are friends and frequent collaborators with BKK, and has won multiple national and international design awards.
The clearly structured garden combines water with an entirely native landscape. It’s arranged as a journey from Australia’s barely occupied desert interior to the more constructed coastlines.
A range of other designers, landscape architects, architects and artists have also contributed artworks, built elements or display gardens.
BKK designed three shelters within it.
Unlike most architectural commissions, our work responds directly to the landscape rather than vice versa. Our designs explore what shelter is and the history of shelter from its most primitive forms to the more contemporary vernacular.
The first shelter is a simple covered seating area that’s a gateway to the Gondwana area of the garden. It’s a rest space and also a bus stop for the small people mover that circumnavigates the garden.
A sculptured, weathered Corten steel shell provides a protective enclosure, lined with timber.
The second shelter is inside the Gondwana area, which represents a pre-human Australian setting. The structure appears as if it evolved from nature, out of the landscape.
A curve of tree trunks form a wall that traces the landscape design, and the large but impossibly thin steel roof appears to have settled on top, like a piece of leaf litter. The shelter is used for school groups, weddings and other events.
The third and largest shelter is a kiosk, rest facility and children’s education area. It’s located in the most constructed landscape zone, which represents a more urban setting with backyards and buildings. The shelter is a reinterpretation of the Australian vernacular shed.
The materials are layered from the rich timber that is part interior/part exterior to the brightly coloured kiosk to the toilets clad in plywood and stainless steel.
BKK is currently working on more shelters for the Australian Garden.