Mon Repos Turtle Centre

The new Mon Repos Turtle Centre shall be an iconic, year-round visitor experience providing integration of research, conservation and education of marine turtles within their natural environment in South East Queensland. 


To create a threshold/ passage into a place where one can witness the secret life of the turtle.  The visitor approaches a planted sand dune. 
Two shear planes of rammed sand walls cut a passage into a ‘captured’ native landscape. A digital screen as part of the retained auditorium sits as a backdrop to this landscape.   

Curved rammed sand walls form a frame to this space with planted covered walks connecting all parts.  The museum, toilets, restaurant and access to the beach sit behind the walls and are concealed/revealed by this edge. Night lights in this space are contained and minimise light pollution to the beach turtle habitat.

The Auditorium

It is important that the retention of the auditorium feels like it is an integral part of the overall design rather than a reluctant legacy.  

Part of our approach is to leverage the existing geometry and orientation. We would organise the facility with the visitor centre and research to the north of this axis, and food, beverages and toilets to the south.

A Dunal Landscape

The dunes form an integral part in the life of the turtle.  At their base at the oceans edge, eggs are laid and hatchlings hatch.  The development of a second dune as a landscape intervention for human occupation heightens the awareness of this landscape/fauna relationship.  

The facility, rather than standing on the land, is instead carved into the artificial dune. All parts of the facility reference a turtle interpretative central courtyard.  The visitor is also part of the dune with its courtyard edges framing the day and night sky.  The heart of the scheme is the sensory experience of the hollowed out courtyard.  The feeling of being below the surface, waiting for the visitors opportunity to be released onto the beach, as a hatchling for the very first time.  It is a metaphor for the beginning of the journey.

A stone and rammed earth wall project to the West and are ‘broken’ by the roads that cut through it much the way the remnant residual Kanaka Wall is found today.  This landscape intervention clearly marks the entry and sets up the visitor experience as they move into the courtyard.

The courtyard clearly organises the visitor experience with the auditorium on the axis of the court, the research and visitor centre to the north, and the restaurant to the south.  The scheme could potentially reuse the existing buildings or create very simple new buildings. 

As the external envelop is not revealed / not dominant, they can be simple in nature. The perception is that they will be internal, not external, as these buildings tap into the courtyard. 

The sand dune built up to the edges of the courtyard limits any light pollution into the surrounding landscape.

A central shallow pond also reflects the sky and reminds the visitor of the connection between water and land for the turtles.  A range of opportunities are formed for the inclusion of artwork within this landscape framework.

The Fifth Wall

The way we engage with places often begins with a Google Maps search.  This portal is an opportunity to begin the visitor experience. Creating a memorable and identifiable image reinforces brand recognition.  The framed landscape courtyard will describe a distinctive pattern in the satellite image that is then anticipated upon visitation.




2016 - 2017

Project Type

Design Competition Scheme

Key Personnel
Hamilton Wilson,
Phillip Lukin, Shaun Purcell, Maddie Zahos, Shane Collins & Lia Kim.

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