The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Research Institute Architecture Capitalises on Rainforest Setting.

The Cairns Institute gives concrete expression to James Cook University’s aim to become one of the world’s leading research universities in the tropics. As a repository of regional knowledge and research capacity, the institute is perfectly positioned to make a significant contribution to the development of a sustainable quality of life for tropical communities.

The Woods Bagot design team, in collaboration with RPA Architects, designed a building that represents its place and its context in a new and exciting way. Attracting the best researchers was the central aim of the university, so it was crucial that the proposed building will create an environment that optimises the working experience so people love engaging with the building.

Intrinsic to the design is a celebration of the rainforest setting and enrichment of the place experience. An evolving landscape skin, a ‘trellis’, defines the building, offering aesthetics and sun control, while a variety of micro climate ecologies around the building have been created.

The design assists in minimising running costs for the university whilst contributing to the quality of the environment, in line with the university’s aspirations to achieve a sustainable outcome for the building.



The Cairns Institute


Cairns, Australia


4,000 m2



Completion Date

July 2013


Mark Damant


Australian Institute of Architects, Queensland Chapter, 2014 – Commendation, Interior Architecture – Commendation, Public Architecture

Approximate Value

AUD 25 million


Architecture, Interior Design


Designed to achieve 5 Star Green Star 

wechat qr code