Carved from the dunes

CHRISTOU’S winning proposal in the highly competitive Australian-wide design competition for the new City Beach Surf Club sees the fusion of the beachscape, landscape and architecture as one.

Taking the original brief for a two-storey building that encompasses a surf club on the lower level, commercial space on the first floor and a wrap-around verandah, CHRISTOU set out to challenge it to create greater interaction with the site, better distribution of functional relationships, and provide a space for the public within a precinct.

The 4000sqm project sits at the edge of the rugged dunes and overlooks the expansive Indian Ocean at the former City Beach Surf Club site.

Nestling into the site, the design works the topography to create a sequence of programmatic datums; transitioning from arrival, hospitality, public space, promenade and beach.

“The buildings, crafted as a series of transparent pavilions, allows at all times views through the internal spaces to the ocean,” says CHRISTOU Associate Director Steven Smyth.

Further modifications to the brief included an enclosed courtyard for the surf club, an eastern entry, and alterations to the footprint size of both the commercial buildings and the surf club.

The public space cascades from south to north, beginning as a protected courtyard and opening in to a sheltered outdoor amphitheatre with full views to the beach northward.

Hidden from view on arrival, the linear surf club emerges from the south as a low-slung angled wall projecting itself north on to the beach, extending the ecology of the dune with an extensive landscaped green roof and a lookout. The wall of the club provides shelter and amplifies the sound of the ocean along the promenade.

“The impact of the marine environment was a critical consideration, particularly when designing naturally ventilated structures,” Steven said. “Not only is the corrosive environment external, it is also internal.”

Extensive use of concrete withstands both the corrosive environment as well as everyday use, whilst also requiring minimal maintenance.

The roofing membranes – a system not widely used in Western Australia – were extensively researched and involved a great deal of training and supervision of sub-contractors.

A challenge of building on the coast in WA is that the view you are trying to capture is also the worst orientation for passive solar. To combat this, deep overhangs were provided to the east and verandas to the west to maximise shading.

Additional sustainable design elements include: natural ventilation and lighting, reflective roofing to limit solar heat gain, and timber for light framing, partitions and ceilings – both to sequester carbon and to withstand the corrosive environment.

Client: Town of Cambridge 
Builder: Georgiou Group
 Project Managers: NS Projects
 Structural Engineer & Civil Engineer – Pritchard Francis Landscape Architect – Four Landscape Studio Building Surveyor – John Massey Group Gabriels Environmental – Section J Hydraulic & Mechanical Engineer – GHD Electrical Engineer – BEST Quantity Surveyor – Aquenta



Photography: Douglas Mark Black
Aerial imagery: Christou Design Group