Timber transforms Lexus of Tasmania showroom into an inviting home-like sanctuary
Tasmanian architecture practice Core Collective Architects have a love of materials in their raw state and Director Ryan Strating says solid timber is the gold standard. Working alongside Drew Edwards, Director at BYA Architects, their recently launched project the Lexus of Tasmania sales suite is a stunning example of how the use of timber can elevate a traditionally cold commercial space into one that is welcoming and comfortable with residential qualities. Inspired by the INTERSECT BY LEXUS luxury brand-experience concept, the new facility goes well beyond the concept of a traditional sales centre by projecting the Lexus brand promise at every touchpoint.
“We use a lot of materials in their raw state,” says Strating. “Raw concrete, stone, timber, brass, steel, stainless steel and minimalist painted surfaces. Timber is one that we use a lot of because it is local and healthy.”
Strating explains that many composite/mand made materials are often manufactured with adhesives, bonding agents and chemicals.
“While manufactured materials can be awesome products to use and easy to handle, they off-gas. It doesn’t happen forever, but there is a level of toxicity and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that aren’t healthy. Even plywood can have its issues because of the glues that bond it together,” he says.
“Natural Timber is much better as it doesn’t have toxicity, and solid timber is the gold standard. That is what we try to use – not everywhere, but where we can.”
While Core Collective Architects and BYA Architects were the leads on the Lexus of Tasmania fitout, it was a true collaboration between the Tasmanian architecture teams, the client and renowned Tasmanian chef Luke Burgess.
“Collaboration is not always the easiest thing to do, but choreographing the final outcome gets a better result.”
More high-end home than showroom
Strating said that Lexus didn’t want a normal car showroom.
“They asked for a space that people would want to spend time in, more gallery space than commercial space. And they wanted it to be warm, like inviting someone into a quality home,” said Strating.
Lined with Tasmanian Oak battens, with a low VOC finish, and adorned with generous curtains, the space is warm and inviting. Amongst the carefully parked Lexus vehicles, a collection of custom designed, handmade Tasmania Oak and soft leather furniture by Scott Van Tuil welcomes guests to sit.
In addition to choosing warm, natural materials, Strating says the acoustics in a space are critical to creating a place that people want to spend time in.
“I’m quite obsessed with creating spaces that have a flat neutral acoustic quality – not the slightest amount of echo. It adds to the feeling of comfort.”
“In addition to providing a warm and natural finish, the Tasmanian Oak timber battens are in three different sizes used in a randomised way, in a non-repetitive shape, so they capture sound between them. The battens also allowed us to hide maximum acoustic insulation behind them.”
Another highlight is a commercial kitchen that can transform into a pop-up restaurant that will feature prominent chefs from Tasmania and the mainland, curated by Luke Burgess. Chefs can embrace the Japanese hospitality art of onotenashi, providing exceptional service and anticipating the needs of up to 10 guests as they prepare exclusive cuisine before their eyes.
The space can be shared and enjoyed by local business and community groups. The kitchen is available for bookings for small groups to meet and do business, and local artists are invited to exhibit their work.
Lexus is known for cutting edge design and craftsmanship and the new Lexus of Tasmania sales suite is doing the brand justice.
“It is innovative to be taking a bold step to make a commercial space like this, rather than a traditional commercial aesthetic,” says Strating. “Historically you don’t see a lot of timber in commercial spaces, but it invites people into the space.”
Working with timber supply chains respects the resource
The timber was supplied by Britton Timbers and installed by Vos Shopfitting.
Strating says it is great to be able to call up the timber processor and ask “what have you got available” before they finalise the specification.
“It’s the best way to respect the resource,” says Strating. “If we specify a specific size that requires material to be machined down unnecessarily, it’s wasteful.”
“By working with the processor, we can determine the best design to meet the material that is in stock and minimise waste.”
Sound a critical element in Lexus of Tasmania design
Everything from the curtains to the concrete floor has its place when it comes to influencing sound in the Lexus of Tasmania luxury sales suite.
BYA Architect’s Drew Edwards says it was important to have lots of acoustic treatment.
“The raw ceiling with obstructions helps to stop sound bouncing across it from one end to another, the same way a wall blocks a view,” he said.
“The Italian pressed cotton curtains also adjust the acoustic frequency of the space and help to trap sound.
“When a space is quiet and not so lively, we sense this and we feel calm.
“It allows us to talk more softly and our voices become lowered – a sense of being in a Tasmanian forest.”