A whale-inspired marine observatory situated at the end of a heritage-listed jetty in Western Australia will soon become the largest of its kind in the world. Slated to open in mid-2023, the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre (AUDC)—dubbed “The Cetacean”—will feature exhibition spaces, a marine research center, an art gallery, and an underwater dining experience.
The collaboration between British firm Baca Architects, marine contractor Subcon, and project engineers Coremarine boasts a submerged portion with 18-foot-high windows looking out into a seagrass meadow, and an above-water part offering views of the ocean and the Busselton Jetty, which extends more than a mile over the shallow, protected waters of Geographe Bay.
A 2.5-hour drive south of the Western Australian capital of Perth, Geographe Bay is a resting area for the southern migration of the humpback whale and the calving grounds of the southern right whale, and Busselton enjoys a popular whale watching season that begins in early September and ends around late November. On rare occasions, the lucky few are also treated to sightings of blue and minke whales.
The Cetacean aims to help educate visitors on marine protection and the effects of climate change on the oceans. The structure itself is also designed to provide a thriving habitat for fish and corals, with the bio-receptive materials used allowing barnacles and algae to take hold—like they do on whales.
With a price tag of approximately 30 million Aussie dollars, the project received funding from both the federal and state governments, the City of Busselton, and Busselton Jetty Inc, which operates the current underwater observatory.
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