Following a design competition, Australian architecture firm Liminal Studio, Snøhetta, and Rush Wright Associates have been selected to design a new History and Interpretation Center for the Cascades Female Factory, one of Australia's most significant historic sites and part of 11 convict properties that were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2010. "Collectively these sites represent an exceptional example of the forced migration of convicts and an extraordinary example of global developments associated with punishment and reform," writes the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority, the organization that manages the property, on its website.

"We feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with Port Arthur Historic Sites Management Authority and key stakeholders to create a new History and Interpretation Centre that will uncover untold stories and highlights the plight of Tasmanian convict women and the important role they played in shaping Tasmania," said Liminal Studio in a news release.

Between 1828 and 1856, the Cascades Female Factory operated as a convict facility in an isolated location in the Australian state of Tasmania, one of the U.K.'s former penal colonies in Australia. After 1856, the facility was used for institutional purposes until it was sold and subdivided in 1904.


The proposed design aims to tell the stories of the more than 6,000 female inmates who spent time there. The center's design, inspired by the site's history, features a long, narrow walkway flanked by tall black walls that replicate the proportions of walls of the former prison cells. Occupying one of the site's three original yards, the new rectilinear building will feature a transparent floor that sits atop part of the factory's excavated foundation. "The intention is not to oppress, but to aid understanding and acknowledgment of what has previously taken place at this site," said Snøhetta in a press release. "The remains of the Female Factory are surrounded by a wild garden, an abstracted landscape, where the traces of the former cell building are brought to the surface as fragmented models, only to be covered again with fresh new growth as a powerful metaphor for the ability of nature to heal." Additionally, an amphitheater—dubbed empatheater—will house events, performances, and open forums.

The new center will honor the convict's women's legacy by "recognizing the social, cultural, and political foundations laid by the convict women," according to a news release.