by Dhwani ShanghviApr 26, 2023
Cumulus Studio has conceptualised a unique whisky distillery in the town of Oatlands in Tasmania, Australia. Surrounded by the country’s largest collection of colonial buildings, the Callington Mill Distillery near Oatlands’ iconic windmill offers guests an immersive whisky-tasting experience, with the distillery’s design paying homage to the local architecture of the region. The complex features a cluster of buildings connected with corrugated gabled roofs, which replicate the aesthetic of the roofs of rural sheds and homes in the surrounding area. The structures themselves are made of bricks that have a soft and chalky patina that references the sandstone of the surrounding buildings. The complex is a functional distillery and an experience centre with unique spaces that give visitors a glimpse of the distillery's history and whisky-making process. There is also a restaurant within the complex.
Australian Architect Peter Walker, Director of Cumulus Studio explained the idea behind the distillery saying, “Callington Mill Distillery is a respectful silhouette beside an adapted 1830s flour mill and a distinct point of reference among the area’s preserved Georgian sandstone buildings. Our design aims to honour Oatlands' historical narrative and involve visitors in the story of how its local whisky is made. Two gable structures are unapologetically contemporary, yet seamlessly blend with the heritage context. The gabled form of the new distillery is also derived from historical precedents, reminiscent of utilitarian rural sheds that are common in the surrounding landscape, as well as a subtle nod to the industrial processes stored within”.
Founded in 2015, Callington Mill Distillery is an innovative, family-owned whisky distillery. The distillery continues to produce a range of award-winning single malt whiskies, as well as gin and vodka. The architecture of the Callington Mill Distillery is meant to showcase a marriage of traditional materials and contemporary design. The distillery is visually arresting yet functional. It is new yet sensitive to the old. The studio was inspired by the local architecture of the region but wanted the spaces to be modern, just like the ideology of the distillery.
When asked about the experience Walker elaborated, “As well as creating a world-class visitor experience, the distillery’s design strikes a fine balance between functionality, scale, and history. For us, it was important to create a set of buildings that honoured the rich heritage context of the town, ones blending in with their surroundings while remaining unapologetically contemporary. When viewed from the courtyard of the historic mill precinct, the building sits comfortably alongside its surrounding buildings, the sand stock brick walls and corrugated metal roof directly echoing the materials of the Georgian context”.
The Callington Mill Distillery features three main sections for visitors to enter—a restaurant, the factory floor, and a sunken tasting Barrel Room. These areas are designed to be easily accessible by visitors at any time during their visit and are spatially connected. Guests can dine at the restaurant and bar on the first floor, take a self-guided tour of the factory on the ground floor and have whisky tastings in the separate Barrel Room. The buildings feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows and have an open layout, making it easy for guests to explore the complex. “The design had to navigate the requirements of a working distillery while providing the immersive experience of a traditional cellar door. The distillery does this through its natural sequence of spaces, which are all linked by wayfinding signage, allowing visitors to easily explore the distillery at their own pace. It also means the distillery can be run by a handful of staff, maintaining a sense of intimacy despite its scale,” explains Walker.
The interior design of the Callington Mill Distillery has all the tenets of contemporary. The material palette of the spaces celebrates whisky’s rich tones. The interiors feature Tasmanian oak joinery, brass fittings, minimal lighting, and marble with a golden hue. The warm and welcoming restaurant and bar area house contemporary wooden tables and modern lighting fixtures. The highlights of the bar area are the statement metal lighting installation hanging from the ceiling and the well-lit open shelves housing the whiskies. Additionally, the restaurant serves delectable dishes made using the freshest locally sourced ingredients that complement the whiskies.
The Callington Mill Distillery’s factory floor houses a central walkway that guests can use to explore the complex and learn about whisky making. Here, visitors can take a self-guided tour, see the Tasmanian-made copper stills up close and learn about the whisky fermentation process. Finally, the distillery’s Barrel Room, which is used for whisky tastings, comprises several tables that are surrounded by shelves of wooden barrels and a contemporary bar. The Barrel Room is a large space that can be rented out for private events as well. A similar minimal design aesthetic and metal and wood material palette connect the different areas of the distillery. Furthermore, the buildings feature expansive windows creating a glass facade, that allows plenty of natural light to enter.
While the roofs of the structures are similar to the neighbouring historical buildings, the rest of the complex has a contemporary aesthetic featuring weathered brick architecture and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. “Callington Mill is the biggest whisky distillery in Tasmania to date and houses sizable distillation and production equipment. But the building aspires to settle respectfully into the surrounding heritage site rather than overshadow it. In the same way that Georgian buildings are free of adornment, the new distillery is minimalist in appearance. Its contemporary nature is revealed through details including floor-to-ceiling glass walls that line the entry and divide the gables into two pavilions,” adds Walker. Moreover, since its opening last year, the new Callington Mill Distillery has helped drive tourism to the region. “A new addition to Tasmania’s whisky trail, Callington Mill Distillery is a refined, considered, and modern working building that is respectful to a unique context. We wanted the tourism experience to be immersive. But as Callington Mill is a working distillery, we knew it couldn’t hinder production. In our design, visitors enter on the first floor, looking down onto the aromatic stills below,” concludes Peter Walker on the hospitality design of the distillery.
Name: Callington Mill Distillery
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Year of completion: April 2022
Area: 1562 sqm
Architects: Cumulus (Peter Walker, Luke Waldron, Elizabeth Walsh, Rosella Sciurti, Andrew Grimsdale, Ronja Scherer, Chi Chee Goh, Andrew Geeves)
Builder: GLB Construction
Heritage Advice: Purcell
Town Planning: ERA Planning & Environment
Structural Engineering: Saltmarsh & Escobar Consulting
Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Hydraulic & Fire Engineering: COVA
Kitchen Consultant: Green Design Group
Landscape Architects: Playstreet
Building Surveyors: pitt&sherry
Traffic Engineering: Milan Prodanovic
Whisky Consultant: Damian Mackey
Process Engineers & Trade Waste: Still Smiths
- Australian Architect
- Australian Architecture
- Bar Design
- Brick Architecture
- Brick Wall
- Courtyard Design
- Furniture Design
- Gabled Roof
- Glass Facade
- Hospitality Architecture
- Hospitality Design
- Hospitality Interiors
- Immersive Experience
- Interior Design
- Lighting Design
- Local Architecture
- Minimal Design
- Restaurant Design
- Wood Architecture
- Wooden Furniture