Kiln Inspired Phillip Island Architecture

The main inspiration of Phillip Island architecture is the chicory kiln.

As you drive onto and around the island, it won’t be long before you notice the iconic buildings with steep square roofs some still topped with chimney like turrets.

Old chicory kiln on Phillip Island

Many are now simply square brick building remnants as the attendant timber side structures have often collapsed over the years. But what are they?

The old ones, unfortunately in various stages of collapse, with rusty corrugated roof iron, are chicory kilns (or oasts) - an integral part of the island’s chicory farming history for over a hundred years from 1870.

The kilns were used to roast the parsnip-like chicory roots.

Once done, the dried roots were ground and used as a substitute or for blending with coffee.

None of the once 25 island kilns are still operating and no commercial chicory is now grown on the island.

But you can still find chicory essence in the cooking section of supermarkets and some coffee/chicory blend drinks are available.

Chicory leaves have long been used for medicine or eaten raw or cooked – endives or radicchio is a common form, and are available in green grocers.

The shape of the old chicory kilns left standing is now a major inspiration for island architecture and is seen in buildings all over the island.

You see the same design in many buildings – from Council water reticulation infrastructure to commercial buildings and private homes.

These are a wonderful testament by local architects and owners to the importance of chicory farming to Phillip Island’s history.

In some cases a square turret has been incorporated as acknowledgement to the chicory kiln, while other examples have taken the further step to also provide valuable passive ventilation throughout the building.

The following gallery is a selection of architecture inspired by chicory kilns on Phillip Island, found in most built areas but especially in Cowes, Smiths Beach and Ventnor.

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