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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Saffire Resort in Coles Bay, Australia by Circa Architecture

March 17th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Design Statement

From its inception, Saffire was imagined as an iconic project to redefine tourism in Tasmania.

The location, when we inherited it, was scarred from its previous use as a disused caravan park so 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. With this in mind, we shaped the main building as the end point in a journey, in which views of the Hazards are shielded and revealed and finally presented as a destination which is a panoramic overview of Great Oyster Bay.

Aerial View of Saffire Resort

  • Architecture: Circa Architecture / Circa Morris-Nunn Walker
  • Architecture Team: Peter Walker (project architect), Poppy Taylor (site architect), Jarrod Hughes, Robert Morris-Nun,  Ganche Chua, Judi Davis, Chris Roberts, Gary Fleming, Tina Curtis
  • Client: The Federal Group
    Bernard Dwyer (Tourism Manager)
    Matt Casey (General Manager – Saffire Resort)
  • Builder: Fairbrother Construction
  • Project Management: Stanton Management Group
  • Structural Engineering: Gandy + Roberts
  • Services Engineering: Wood + Grieves
  • Facade Engineering: Hyder Consulting
  • ESD: Wood + Grieves
  • Lighting: Point of View
  • Landscape Design: Inspiring Place
  • Interior Design: Chhada Simbiada Interior Design (in collaboration with Circa Morris-Nunn Walker)
  • Food + Beverage Services: Sangster Design Group
  • Commissioned Lights: Jude Able + Futago (commissioned pendant lights in the dining room)
  • Photography: Peter Whyte (WHY) 0418 319 117
    George Apostolidis (GA) 0408 423 587

Main Exterior view

The resort is also organic in its relationship to the site. Its form evokes memories of coastal land forms, dunes, waves or sea creatures. The journey now is one that moves from the monumental to the personal space of the suites.

Lounge Area

These are small waves or creatures, arranged on the site as if marking the tidal shoreline. The passage between the units is a metaphor for a beach, the suites moored like small craft run up onto the sand.

Interior View

Each suite is enclosing and private, yet opens to an individually personalised view – except this time much more intimate in scale.

Front View


Our client was developing the project with other architects, however when a change of direction for the project was sought we were asked to completely re-design it – we had been working on another hotel project with the client and had formed an excellent working relationship.

Night View


The site is located at Coles Bay on the east coast of Tasmania, and overlooks Great Oyster Bay, the Hazard and the Freycinet Peninsula. The Hazards are a unique geological formation of pink granite that give it a orange / pink tint. The project site is located within, what is extensively a natural native costal landscape.

Resort View

The original brief was for a much larger development of 150 rooms, but this was rethought by our client and eventually became a far smaller scale, more intimate resort, of 20 private suites. This was a decision with which we were in total agreement.

Saffire Resort

Our client, the Federal Group, already own a series of hotel properties at prime tourist destinations throughout Tasmania (Hobart, Cradle Mt, Strahan, Port Arthur, etc) The intent of the resort was to provide high end tourist accommodation at Freycinet to compliment a 4 star lodge already owned by on another site. The new resort is intended to be a destination in its own right and will mainly cater to inbound – interstate or international – guests.



The site, prior to construction, was extensively scared from its previous use and we saw the project as a way of “healing” the surrounding landscape. In collaboration with the landscape architects (Inspiring Place) the buildings were located to retain all of the existing vegetation and trees. Protection zones were established during the construction period and extensive replanting was undertaken as part of the landscape design.

Where possible issues relating to sustainable design were considered however this was also balanced against the practical considerations due to construction on a remote site. 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 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.



The program is basically divided into three parts.

Firstly, the guest arrives at the main reception building (the sanctuary) which is entered through a long “jetty” like walkway to a viewing platform that overlooks the bay. From this upper level, you descend towards the view to the main dining / lounge level which also affords panoramic views of the whole site. The lowest level of the reception building accommodates the spa (privately located away from the public areas), gym, board room and gallery. It also provides a link to the
guest suites.

Secondly, 20 guest suites are located along a serpentine walkway, each carefully sited to capture views of the hazards and provide a privacy for the guests. There are three suite types with the premium located to the west of the site and furthest from the reception. Each suite has a deck located towards the view and a private courtyard located towards the north which is entered off the walkway.

Thirdly, interspersed along the walkway, and located between the suites and the reception are back of house facilities – pantry, house keeping and storage – that service the suites yet kept out of site.

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Category: Resort

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