Luxury Lodge Architecture

Jun 30, 2023

Designing and building state-of-the-art sustainable infrastructure 

The Luxury Lodges of Australia are located in regions that have a compelling and distinctive reason to visit. They are in landscapes as diverse as the desert dunes of Central Australia and the brink of the Southern Ocean; from coral-fringed tropical islands to the bucolic idyll of country Victoria – and many more. In their innovative architecture and considered design elements, each reflects its unique environment, drawing on local resources and materials and conscious of minimising the environmental footprint of the built infrastructure.

While some make a bold but relevant statement, others blend almost seamlessly into the landscape.

Southern Ocean Lodge 2.0 Rises from the Ashes.

If it were possible to imagine an up-side to the devastating destruction by fire in 2019 of the renowned Southern Ocean Lodge, it was the determination and opportunity to build again, incorporating new technology and tweaking design elements to make the lodge even better.

The original lodge design and construction adhered to some of the strictest conservation and development rules in the country, including restricting the actual lodge to just one per cent of the 102-hectare property. The remaining 99 per cent was protected as a wildlife sanctuary.

The original lodge’s architect, Max Pritchard, along with his partner Andrew Gunner, designed the new SOL 2.0, matching the original footprint. Twenty-five guest suites will line the cliff top, each with an uninterrupted view of the Southern Ocean. The design encourages flow-through ventilation and uses glazing to capture sunlight and store natural heat.

Significant upgrades in hybrid solar and battery infrastructure will enable the new Lodge to continue to run off-grid in its remote location, using 25 per cent less energy, while reducing diesel fuel consumption by more than 50 per cent over its previous incarnation.

A larger reverse osmosis system will see solar power used to convert bore water to fresh water and storage capacity has been increased to 5.8 million litres of potable water. Rain savers installed on each tank will increase rainwater harvesting to around 12,000 litres of pure, potable rainwater from every millilitre that falls on the site.

Numerous fire safety measures have been incorporated, including planting a buffer of fire-retardant succulents and native juniper, along with other native species to help the land regenerate.

SOL 2.0 is due to open Dec 2023.


Mt Mulligan Lodge: Humble with a Twist.

The architectural inspiration for Mt Mulligan Lodge – 160 km inland from Cairns, on a 28 000-hectare working cattle station – was the humble pastoral structures of the region. A large quantity of salvaged iron bark timber members sourced from the demolition of the Pyrmont Bay Wharf in Sydney was used throughout the property. The 28 guest pavilions and the main pavilion – the latter a contemporary take on the Australian ‘shed’ – utilise spotted gum timber, corrugated iron and local stone in gabions, in rustic yet luxurious homage to the uniquely Australian environment of Northern Outback Queensland.

The harsh tropical climate dictated design principles that include deep verandas and high ceilings; louvres that enable passive cooling and other measures to minimise energy use, water consumption and environmental impact.

Its remote, off-grid location means the lodge is reliant on its solar array and battery system for power. The lodge harvests its own water supply and has invested in composting, glass crushing and recycling facilities as well as on-site waste management.


Saffire Reflects Freycinet

In contrast, Saffire Freycinet takes its inspiration from the colours of the peninsula – the pink granite of the Hazards mountains, the white beaches, sapphire waters and the grey-green of the native bushland.  Designed by Tasmanian architect Robert Morris Nunn and associates Circa Architecture, the buildings are conceptually organic, instantly recognisable and employed Tasmanian products and designers wherever possible.

Sustainable design principles incorporate highly energy-efficient systems including hot water and lighting; rainwater collection; natural cycle air flow systems and double glazing.

The site was previously a caravan park, and the land severely degraded. Saffire was conceived on the principle of ‘the protection of healthy sites and the healing of damaged sites’. The lodge occupies only a small proportion of the property, which has been revegetated with over 30,000 native plants since 2009. It is now a secluded bush haven akin to its pre-European-settlement state.


Sal Salis, Ningaloo Reef – Perched Lightly in the Dunes

Luxury Lodge Sal Salis’ 16 luxury safari-style tents sit lightly, hidden among the coastal dunes, metres from the corals and marine life of Ningaloo Reef, blending with the colours of the coastal desert. The luxury camp is the only accommodation structure in the Cape Range National Park, allowable only through adherence to strict environmental impact guidelines set down by the Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation.

The lodge is designed to have zero permanent impact on the surrounding environment. Each wilderness tent sits on a raised, removable platform and boardwalks linking the tents to the main lodge prevent soil and dune erosion.

Power is solar generated and water usage is restricted to a personal daily allocation of 20 litres – as well as a three-minute shower time. Each ensuite bathroom has a Nature Loo and there is no internet or phone coverage.

The idea is to pare things back to the essential nature experience – albeit with luxuries like gourmet food and wine, comfortable beds and expert guides. 

Learn more…


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