Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) has big plans for a new five-star hotel, with aims to achieve the Living Building Challenge certification.
The new hotel, which may be named HoMo (Hotel Mona), will be a ‘will shout instead of whisper’ in comparison to the well-known museum. The design of the building cycled through many iterations over the years, and finally emerging through the collective efforts of architects at Nonda Katsalidis and David Walsh, among others.
“We started with an inverted suspension bridge,’ explained David Walsh, “but then the value engineers got at it. Now it’s just a shopping trolley that looks a bit like an inverted suspension bridge. The horizontal distance from the land to the point is 53 metres,” he added. “It’s not modest.”
The plan behind the new hotel had always been to have the building beam over the water, to make the most of the river views. A ‘buildable’ and ‘affordable solution’ to this endeavour did not come straight away, however. First, the design team had to solve another problem, how do you affordably incorporate a hotel and a theatre whilst still avoiding transmission of noise in both directions? The answer was suspending the hotel from above – by making a cantilever buildable, whilst also acoustically isolating the theatre.
“It’s the best idea anyone has ever had,” exclaimed David Walsh, “and the most amazing part is, it didn’t come from me.”
The new 63-metre high hotel will aim to score a Living Building Challenge certification, a green building certification program focusing on sustainable design framework which visualises an ideal green built environment. The Living Building Challenge uses the metaphor of a flower to explain their certification, as the ideal built environment should ‘function as cleanly and efficiently as a flower’. This means the so-called HOMO must also be net positive on waste.
The hotel will be five-star and have 172 rooms. Each of the rooms will be looking towards Kunanyi (Mt Wellington), or up the river towards Claremont and Otago Bay. Facilities within the MONA hotel will be a theatre, spa centre, outdoor concert stage and library, as well as conference and auditorium facilities, and countless artworks surrounding the extravagant new building. The new library will also span over three levels. Access to the building will be mainly via ferry, with a boardwalk connecting bicycle and pedestrian access to the foreshore.
“We expect HOMO to be attractive to large segments of the national and international business and conference markets that previously haven’t turned to Tasmania due to a lack of appropriate infrastructure,” said Co-Chief Executive Mark Wilsdon.
“New facilities, like the auditorium and theatre, will also allow us to further activate the site at night, and continue to diversify the appeal of MONA to Tasmanians too.”
“This time, some may think it’s gotten a little out of hand – the excavation alone is more than four times the size of that for the museum – but we seem to have some support, the plans have turned out pretty well, and we can’t rest on our laurels forever,” concluded Walsh.
The build of the hotel is expected to take roughly three years from commencement, will create 300 new full-time construction jobs, and have approximately 120-full-time on-going jobs after the hotel’s opening.