Gavin King

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Design secrets of Cairns buildings revealed in exciting program of events

A group of passionate local architects, designers and planners are shining a light on the importance of great design to the Cairns community.


Sometimes the most interesting elements of a city’s architecture can be hidden in plain sight.

That’s why a group of passionate Cairns architects and town planners have joined forces to explain the design stories behind some of the region’s most prominent buildings as part of the 2016 Festival of Architecture.

Called “Cairns Open House”, the program includes three events starting today aimed at raising awareness of the value of great design in our tropical setting.

The program kicks off tonight with the film “Design Disruption” at WharfCineBar at the Wharf 1 café next to the Cruise Liner Terminal.

Tomorrow night James Cook University hosts a free public lecture called “Cairns architecture: old, valuable and sometimes lost” by Shaneen Fantin from People Oriented Design.

On Sunday, there are just 10 spots left for the free public walk and bus tour called “Cairns Public Places – The Design Stories”, which features discussions on the design story behind local buildings by the lead architect on each project.

Buildings featured include CQUni’s campus at the Green Square building, Salthouse, the CBD heritage walk, plus the Artillery Museum, Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, and the new Tobruk Pool. The design philosophy behind the stunning Munro Martin Parklands will also be explained.

Dr Fantin, who is also chair of the FNQ Committee at the Australian Institute of Architects, believes Cairns is at a critical juncture when it comes to the design of our buildings and built environments.

“Great design is important for all of us because the built environment is what we interact with constantly on a daily basis,” she said.

“We are spoilt with a beautiful natural environment here in Far North Queensland but we must not take it for granted.

"Our population is growing but there’s no reason why our everyday experiences with the built experiences can’t be fantastic. They should be fantastic.

“We do have a history of not placing great value on our built environment in Far North Queensland, though I think that’s been changing over the past decade.

“We have a passionate community of interested and committed designers in the creative industries here, and it’s a very timely period in our history to make special places and celebrate those places and buildings of the past that are still great.”

Ms Fantin nominated the heritage-listed work of architect Eddie Oribin as among her favourite buildings in the Cairns region.

A visit to his studio and home built in the 1950s is included on Sunday’s tour.

Dr Fantin thanked Cassy King, Helen Bolton, Stefanie Field and Maiya McKenna for their important contribution in organising the calender of events.

For more information, visit the Cairns Open House Facebook by clicking here

To book a spot on the walking and bus tour, which includes an optional $20 lunch at Salthouse between the walk and bus components of the tour, email your interest to: [email protected]