Cowes is the main town on Philip island, a stunning landscape located south-east of Melbourne. This island simultaneously houses a small and well-connected community and is home to a range of large scale events from the annual Motorcycle GP to one of the world’s most famous penguin parades.
This nexus between local community and global events is not resolved in the public infrastructure on the island. Cowes’ small collection of municipal buildings provides accommodation for essential services to a small community but with limited capacity to act as host for major gatherings.
This proposal for transforming the centre of Cowes involved both the refurbishment of existing buildings and the reorganisation of key public functions around a new “Great Hall” that formalises an existing laneway through the site. The power of the Great Hall was to be in the indeterminate programming opportunities inherent in a space which is both a through-site-link and function centre. Further layering through the siting of the adjacent library, visitor centre and council administration functions – that would all open onto the space – further elaborated on the base diagram.
The result could have been a dynamic new space which transformed a dreary set of municipal facilities into a vibrant centre for townspeople and visitors. Importantly, it would also have kept major functions and celebrations associated with large events in the town while still serving its core objective – the formalisation of a path from street to bus station.