In honour of International Women’s Day, the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority is launching an architectural design competition for a new History and Interpretation Centre for the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart. The first female Prime Minister of Australia and Ambassador for the campaign the Hon Julia Gillard AC recently visited the site and said: 

“The Cascades Female Factory is an incredibly moving place that shares the stories of women who overcame tremendous adversity to help forge our nation. Theirs are powerful stories worthy of our deep reflection.” 

The competition will attract architectural designs for a History and Interpretation Centre that will 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. The first stage of this project calls for registration and expressions of interest and will be followed by a multi-staged design round. The competition jury is comprised of female leaders in architecture, heritage management, and the arts.  The $15,000 grand prize for the winning design is anticipated to be awarded in November 2017. 

Chair of the PAHSMA Board, 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. The current structure, which was originally built as an industrial factory, does not meet either the interpretive requirements of the Historic Site nor the internationally identified heritage values of the place.”

The development of a History and Interpretation Centre, as an exercise in design in a heritage context, will require a high level of design excellence and an investigation of a broad range of potential design solutions. The final 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 and current Shadow Attorney-General, the Hon Lara Giddings MP; and the Speaker of the Tasmanian House of Assembly, the Hon Elise Archer MP.

The Cascades Female Factory was awarded the Cultural Tourism Award at last year’s Tasmanian Tourism Awards and a new Centre will allow visitors a better opportunity to engage with the multitude of stories and complex layered history that the site has to offer.

For further details and to enter the design competition visit:


The current visitors centre at the Cascades Female Factory was originally built as a factory for food production and does not meet the internationally identified heritage values of the site. The UNESCO World Heritage listing decision included a recommendation that the structure should be removed. PAHSMA intends to replace the current structure with one of a modest scale, built in consideration of the statutory and management framework of the place and that which will not adversely impact the Outstanding Universal Value of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property.

The competition jury comprises an eminent field of women across architecture, heritage management and the arts and will be led by the Chair of the PAHSMA Board, Professor Sharon Sullivan AO FAHA. 

Other jury members include:

•Catherine Baudet, Architect LFRAIA, recipient of the Australian Institute of Architects first gender equality award;
•Janet Carding, Director of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery;
•Justine Clark, Writer, critic and researcher and editor of Palour for women, equity and architecture. Member of Design Review Panels for both the Victorian Government Architects Office and South Australian Officer for Design and Architecture;
•Shelley Penn, Architect LFRAIA, Hon NZIA, Hon AIA, Hon RAIC, member of the Victorian Design Review Panel and the Capital City Design Review Panel in South Australia, Adjunct Professor at Monash University and Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, past National President of the AIA, past Deputy Chair of the Heritage Council of Victoria and past Associate Victorian Government Architect; and
•Penelope Evatt Seidler, AM, Architect LFRAIA, Director of Harry Seidler and Associates, member of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art and member of UNSWs Faculty of the Built Environment advisory council

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