17 Jan 23

Woods Bagot and the University of Tasmania go tree shopping ahead of replanting of Forestry Tasmania’s iconic indoor forest  


Woods Bagot Associate Phoebe Settle didn’t envision tree-shopping as part of her interior design career, but that’s exactly what she found herself doing his year, wandering Tasmania’s abundant Florentine Valley.

The replanting of the former Forestry Tasmania building’s iconic indoor forest is a centrepiece of Woods Bagot’s restoration of the heritage-listed site for the University of Tasmania; a vital piece of infrastructure for the University’s Southern Campus Transformation, relocating its premises from the current Sandy Bay Campus into the Hobart CBD.

Located on Hobart’s Melville Street, the former Forestry Tasmania building comprises two original 1930s warehouses, with a 22-metre-diameter glass dome and spectacular indoor forest added by Tasmanian-based Circa Morris-Nunn Chua Architects in 1997. The Forestry Tasmania dome is framed with Tasmanian oak beams, and originally housed a microclimate patterned on a Tasmanian rainforest.

Working closely with local landscape architects Realm, Woods Bagot is replanting that forest as the campus’ welcoming space. Journeying through the forest, signage and information will tell you the history of the site and the reasons why the specific plants were chosen.

“With the indoor forest atrium at its heart, the Forestry building has an unmistakable link to landscape,” says Woods Bagot Principal Bruno Mendes

“The site has a rich sense of place and history. Our design approach embraces the existing celebration of landscape and lets that drive the conceptual direction of the new, to develop a consistent visual language.”

“The verdancy and geometry of the dome creates new focus points for the campus.” adds project leader Alastair Flynn. “With this in mind, our restoration establishes the campus’ ‘interstitial spaces’ as a blended typology that doesn’t separate architecture and landscape.”

UTAS tree selection

Associate Phoebe Settle wth a group from the University of Tasmania and Hansen Yuncken in the Florentine Valley.

sassafras leaf

Leaf from a Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum): one of several trees selected for the Dome’s replanting.

UTAS tree shopping

In August, with a group from the University of Tasmania, Realm, contractor Hansen Yuncken and a number of Tasmanian tree specialists, Associate Phoebe Settle travelled to the Florentine Valley near Maydena in Tasmania to select specimens for transplanting into the Forestry Dome.

The team selected several Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum): an evergreen tree native to the cool temperate rainforests of Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales.

Several Myrtle Beech (Nothofagus) were also chosen for the indoor forest. This species is the evergreen relative of the Fagus, or Deciduous Beech, which is Australia’s only cold climate deciduous native tree and is unique to Tasmania.

These selected trees will be removed and relocated to a nursery in Hobart where they will be cared for prior to planting in their new home at the University of Tasmania.

Settle says that the design’s integration of architecture and landscape begins but doesn’t end with the reinstatement of the indoor forest.

Alongside the iconic dome, extensive green spaces will be filtered throughout the campus, linking the forest inside to park areas outside, which the public will be able to enjoy as well as students.

The found conditions of the atrium interior

Woods Bagot’s site visit to the deforested dome.


Render of the redeveloped Forestry Dome.

“The material palette will borrow from the landscapes of the site and Tasmania wide. This palette will be explicitly linked and inherently identifiable to Tasmania’s colours, textures, and materials, promising a unique environment,” says Settle.

“New functional elements are inserted within the existing buildings, but these elements depart from the typical conventions of a structure. Instead, the ‘new’ seek to form strong connections to landscape through form, appearance, texture and the considered use of ecology and planting.”

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Tili Bensley-Nettheim
Content and Communications (Australia & New Zealand)

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