Tank 4 is dedicated gallery space. Within the grid of blackened timber posts and suspended lighting, the stand alone Curators Office is located at the node between the two existing main public access points whilst the heritage requirements of the site dictated that the structure be self standing and independent.
The tanks existing fabric and structure informed the design and pallet of materials. A simple, curvy linear pod of dark stained ply provides the base shell, both structurally robust in its self bracing form and discrete in its “tardis” like presence.
The exterior ply skin has been “cut” open like a fruit to reveal an inner office sanctum. White aluminium glazing system contrasting with the dark timber posts, separates the inside from public. Whilst necessarily transparent neither the occupants within the office or the gallery public outside are threatened observers, a balance of casual surveillance and separateness pervades.
Tanks Arts Center History
The Tanks Arts Center is set in the tropical rainforest, botanical garden and cultural precinct. The site originally constructed as a crude oil tank store by the Royal Australian Navy in 1944, where it was carefully camouflaged and set into the rainforest shroud of Mount Whitfield, to protect the stored oil from WWII attack. The site was decommissioned in 1987.
Of the five original tanks, three large concrete tanks remain and in 1994 Roger Mainwood Associate at Woodheads, won a master plan design competition held by the Council to convert the precinct to a community arts facility.
The tank’s one metre thick walls were cut to create public access to the extraordinary internal spaces some 30 metres in diameter and over 8 metres high, with lofty oil stained timber columns supporting a timber roof structure over.
The site, surrounded by large concrete bund walls and mounds, now partially enveloped by the invading rainforest, forms a unique backdrop to the centre which runs an extensive music/performance, gallery/display and function/major events programme. With each of the three tanks, known as Tank “5”, “4” and ’‘3’ respectively, generally separately housing these activities.
In 2010 the Cairns Regional Council commissioned a strategic review and master plan for the facility which was undertaken jointly with JV partners Architectus. This master plan set a framework for ongoing site development and within this a new Curators Office was indicated for the gallery tank, Tank 4.