The Interpretation Centre, The Pinnacles Desert that located in Australia, was designed by Woodhead. Officially opened by WA Environment Minister, Mrs Donna Faragher, this incredibly evocative gesture by Woodhead, project architect for the Centre, John Nichols, introduces this specific practice into contemporary Australian architecture.
The ritual burning of the Pinnacles Interpretive Centre in Western Australia, as part of its design and building process underscores the unique role of fire, both culturally and environmentally, in Australia.
While other artists, architects and designers may have used burning as an aesthetic strategy, like Belgian artist, Arne Quinze with his recent spectacular, wooden cathedral Urchronia set alight in Black Rock Desert and Marten Baas with his sacrificial seating series, Smoking Furniture, Nichols goes beyond the aesthetic.
The reference to traditional Aboriginal smoking and burning practices cannot be overlooked.
The Pinnacles Interpretative Centre precisely challenges the heroic in architecture. It is consciously contradictory, non-heroic and embedded into a series of larger scale narratives about landscape, place and relationship. It is the latest in Woodhead’s trilogy of Interpretive Centres for the Department of Environment and Conservation, which include Karijini National Park and the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, which all explore these questions.
Located 250km north of Perth in the Nambung National Park, the Pinnacles is made of thousands of protruding limestone formations spread over a vast dunal landscape. The rock formations are the exposed eroded remnants of a formerly thick bed of Tamala Limestone, created over time by rain and wind.