The Balibo Fort House Visitor Accommodation Centre Balibo, Timor-Leste

role Architecture value $800,000 area 4,400m² completion date March 2014 client Balibo House Trust

peckvonhartel was engaged by the Balibo House Trust to design a visitor accommodation centre within an existing 400 year old Portuguese Fort in Balibo, Timor-Leste. The visitor accommodation centre is envisaged as a tourist drawcard in the region and will seek to provide ongoing employment opportunities to the local residents.

The brief called for the development of a comprehensive conservation management plan to outline the priorities and policies for the ongoing use and development of the site in keeping with its historical significance. peckvonhartel was then tasked with designing a new contemporary addition of eight rooms, the restoration of the existing fort house into a new communal living/ dining area, a swimming pool, outdoor leisure area and a community museum.

Local materials and skills have been specified wherever possible with stonework and timber cladding used to deliver local identifiable features to the building whilst maintaining distinctive separation from the Portuguese heritage elements.

The design exceeded the expectations of the Balibo House Trust and has been endorsed by Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minster of Timor-Leste.  Stage one, completed in September 2013, involved the conversion of the existing dilapidated Fort House into a new visitor centre and local museum Stage two works including the construction of the accommodation wings were completed in March 2015.