Congratulations to the four finalists who made the shortlist for the Cascades Female Factory competition for a new History and Interpretation Centre.


The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA) has announced the shortlist for the final stage of the architectural design competition for a new History and Interpretation Centre for the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart.

The competition called for an architectural design to celebrate the significance and values of the World Heritage–listed Cascades Female Factory and the contribution of convict women throughout the history of colonial Australia to the present day.

  • WelshMajor (NSW)
  • Hector Abrahams Architects with Neeson Murcutt (NSW)
  • Aileen Sage Architects with Jean Rice Architects (NSW)
  • Liminal Studio (TAS) with Snøhetta (International)

The chair of both the PAHSMA Board and jury for the competition, Professor Sharon Sullivan AO FAHA, said: ‘The Cascades Female Factory Historic Site is a Tasmanian Tourism award-winning experience and one of the 11 Australian Convict World Heritage Sites. It is absolutely critical that we maintain the remaining fabric of the historic site and that we interpret it the best way we can to ensure that the stories and contribution of these convict women are not lost, and that their achievements are understood. A new centre will allow visitors greater opportunities to engage with the multitude of stories and complex layered history that the site has to offer.’

As an exercise in design in a heritage context, the development of a new History and Interpretation Centre requires a high level of design excellence and an investigation of a broad range of potential design solutions. Of the approximately 50 expressions of interest, around 20 were invited to put forward their designs. The jury then selected the four shortlisted proposals.

The jury comprises women who are leaders in architecture, heritage management, and the arts: Catherine Baudet (Director, Ferrier Baudet Architects); Janet Carding (Director, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery); Parlour’s Justine Clark (architectural editor, speaker and researcher); Shelley Penn (Director, Shelley Penn Architect); and Penelope Evatt Seidler AM (Director, Harry Seidler and Associates).

The shortlisted firms will now develop their proposals and present final designs to the jury in October. It is anticipated that the winning design will be awarded in November 2017 with a prize pool of $30,000.

The winning design will be one that best embodies the principles, objectives and philosophy of the project and engages with the extant fabric and heritage values of the site.

The design will be the cornerstone of a $3 million dollar fundraising campaign led by high-profile women, all of whom have been first in their fields, including the first female Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Julia Gillard AC; former Federal MP, the Hon Fran Bailey; former Premier of Tasmania, the Hon Lara Giddings MP; and Speaker of the Tasmanian House of Assembly, the Hon Elise Archer MP.