Saffire Resort / Circa Architecture

© George Apostolidis

Architects: Circa Architecture – Circa Morris-Nunn Walker
Location: Coles Bay,
Client: The Federal Group
Builder: Fairbrother Construction
Project Management: Stanton Management Group
Structural Engineering: Gandy + Roberts
Services Engineering: Wood + Grieves
Facade Engineering: Hyder Consulting
Interior design: Chhada Simbiada Interior Design (in collaboration with Circa Morris-Nunn Walker)
Landscape design: Inspiring Place
Lightning: Point of View
Project area: 3,640 sqm internal + 1,225 sqm outdoor
Photographs: Peter Whyte, George Apostolidis

© Peter Whyte

The site is located at Coles Bay on the east coast of Tasmania, and overlooks Great Oyster Bay, the Hazards and the Freycinet Peninsula.

Our brief was for a intimate luxury resort, of 20 private suites that was is intended to be a destination in its own right and mainly cater to inbound interstate or international – guests. It will provide for (and possibly create) a new high end tourist market in the state. Also important to the client was that the project had an iconic, highly recognizable form that also related to the natural site.


Although the resort is located within what is extensively a natural native costal landscape, the project site was scarred from its previous use as a disused caravan park. The project became as much about repairing the site and interpreting its unique qualities as it was about creating a space from which it could be experienced.

© Chris Wilson

The resort is organic in its relationship to the site and is intentionally evocative of costal forms. However, the form also works with the programmatic requirements of the brief. Essentially the main resort building (or Sanctuary) is entered from the tail and when inside opens into a large volume that provides a panoramic view of the Hazards and Great Oyster Bay. The reception lounge is on this level with the mid level containing bar, restaurant and lounge areas and lowest level gallery, board room and day spa. Undercover walkways, link the reception building to the suites which are spaced to reveal views through. The Hazards are a dominate feature of the site and the architecture deliberately blocks and reveals views throughout the whole journey.

© Peter Whyte

One of the main challenges of the design was to reconcile the client (and market’s) perception of luxury and still capture elements of the unique Tasmanian context. The view is important part of this, however, materials, colors, scale and form also contribute strongly. Materials were selected to work on many levels – pragmatic reasons (such as built form, availability and remote construction), their aesthetic associations (vernacular style, natural context, or luxury expectations) and to extenuate spaces or volume. This was reinforced by a color pallet that was sampled from a close examination of the surrounding landscape. Furthermore, the grandness of the main resort building, which response to the larger context, is counteracted by a more personal and intimate scale in the suites.

© George Apostolidis
plan 02

Where possible issues relating to sustainable design were considered however this was also balanced against construction issues on a remote site and market expectations for luxury resorts (both in material selection and building services). A major consideration for the project was water usage in what is typically a drought affected area. New rain water collection & storage infrastructure were built (off site) as part of the project for use by the development and the nearby township as well as sewage treatment facilities. Rainwater from roofs is also collected and re-used in the reflection pools, as well as water efficient devices being specified. Another important factor, due to the predominately cool climate and south facing site, was heating the resort. All buildings are well insulated and high performance glazing was installed. Energy efficient water heating and air conditioning systems were used.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Saffire Resort / Circa Architecture" 08 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • jamz

    really interesting form, really un-interesting interiors. really interesting review in Architecture Australia which i think is really accurate. the main space should be more awesome internally, and the rooms seem formally a little bland: probably illustrates more succinctly the short-fallings of the client vs any short-comings of the architect… really.