Tank 4 is a dedicated gallery space. Within the grid of blackened timber posts and suspended lighting, the standalone Curator’s 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 discreet in its ‘Tardis-like’ presence.
The exterior ply skin has been ‘cut open’ like a fruit to reveal an inner office sanctum. A white aluminium glazing system contrasting with the dark timber posts separates the inside from the public. Whilst necessarily transparent, neither the occupants within the office nor the gallery public outside are threatened observers; a balance of casual surveillance and separateness pervades.
Tanks Arts Centre History
The Tanks Arts Centre is set in the tropical rainforest, Botanical Gardens and cultural precinct. The site, originally constructed as a crude oil tank store by the Royal Australian Navy in 1944, was carefully camouflaged and set into the rainforest shroud of Mount Whitfield to protect the stored oil from attack during WWII. The site was decommissioned in 1987.
Of the five original tanks, three large concrete tanks remain and in 1994 Roger Mainwood, then an Associate at Woodheads, won a masterplan design competition held by the Council to convert the precinct to a community arts facility.
The tanks’ one metre thick walls were cut to create public access to the extraordinary internal spaces some 30 metres in diameter and over eight 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 program. Each of the three tanks, known as Tank “5”, “4” and ’‘3’ respectively, generally separately house these activities.
In 2010 the Cairns Regional Council commissioned a strategic review and masterplan for the facility which was undertaken jointly with JV partners and Architectus. This masterplan set a framework for ongoing site development and within this, a new Curator’s Office was indicated for the gallery tank, Tank 4.