A civic set piece woven into the fabric of a community.
Landscape: McGregor Coxall
Photography: Simon Wood Photography
Maitland's newest landmark, the Maitland Riverlink, doesn't try to reinvent the image of the country town, instead complimenting the existing character while re-establishing the connection between the city centre and the Hunter River.
Designing a structure with the purpose of becoming an essential part of the community identity requires an architectural team to develop a strong character for the project while fitting into the established style of the town. The team at CHROFI - working closely with Mcgregor+Coxall, designed a landmark which augments the character of Maitland, rather than overshadowing it.
Joshua Zoeller, Associate at CHROFI, explained the process behind designing a landmark which embodies the town -
"The architecture is intended to act as a civic set piece in a street full of great buildings with enduring materials. It also must have a strong architectural form to register as a landmark when viewed from the levee bank, from neighbouring Lorn and the Belmore Bridge. We imagined a ‘sculptural gateway’ in which the material scale, grain and texture was consistent on all sides of the frame, even though the ceiling and walls couldn’t have been constructed from the same material."
The gateway style of the structure seeks to repair the strained relationship between the town and the neighbouring Hunter River. Floods in recent years have caused the city centre to grow away from the river, rather than embracing it as a natural feature. The Riverlink connects the two areas visually, while providing the community with a smooth transition point.
The combination of timber and clay brick was also explicitly chosen to encourage interaction between the building and its patrons, as Zoeller explains -
"The timber, when the colour fades, will look similar to the light coloured brick from a distance giving the building a more singular appearance. The materials also provide a human scale; the tactile materials invite a visitor to touch the building and the precise angles of the walls, ceiling and floor, twist and distort the central space, to subtly slow movement through."
Community events also take place in the Riverlink, and the structure can convert into an outdoor cinema or stage to accommodate a range of activities. This ability to transform allows the Riverlink to become a valuable part of the community without limiting it to any certain type of event.
The Woodform Effect
Woodform Architectural provided the feature timber ceiling for the Maitland Riverlink, using 42x19mm Concept Click Battens in Blackbutt. Famous for its versatility, Blackbutt provided the colour required for this project and was left uncoated to allow for the tone to change over time. The linear texture of the Concept Click battens matches the aesthetic of the clay brick, allowing the form of the building to appear seamless at a glance.
A primary consideration when installing the feature ceiling was the ability to include access panels. With twelve access panels across the whole ceiling, Concept Click's highly customisable nature became a blessing for installers on site.