One of Australia’s oldest surf lifesaving clubs is transformed to maximise its vantage point, future-proof its role and make it fully accessible for the first time.
In Sydney’s southeast, the original Coogee SLSC club house was built in 1907 and suffered ad hoc extensions over time, until major storm damage in 2016 prompted a major renewal, including the removal of large sea-bed boulders near its base. The exterior was repaired and strengthened, while the redesigned interior solves critical access, capacity and operational issues.
Disparate floor levels were rationalised to create the new main room, which when fully opened, increases capacity from 60 to 200 people, and delivers dramatically framed north views across the beach, and east to the ocean. Back-of-house utility and administration spaces are relocated from prime northerly positions, and a new commercial catering kitchen, full-service bar, storage and offices now occupy the southern wing. Spanning the entire western (urban) edge is a multi-function services spine housing bathrooms, storage, serveries and retractable acoustic walls that divide the main room into smaller rooms for simultaneous use – all concealed behind pivoting plywood panels.
Sustainable design includes retention of the building base, saving significant embodied carbon, new rooftop solar, low-E glass and fully operable glazing to improve operational efficiency. New accessible amenities, a platform elevator and other way-finding strategies are incorporated to make the club accessible to all for the first time in its 113-year history. On reopening, Coogee SLSC became the pilot site for Project Livetas –a program training kids with different abilities to become surf lifesavers.
The club renovation allowed us to rethink lifesaving. At the start of the project I didn’t see anyone with a disability wearing the red and yellow [lifesaver’s] uniform. We felt that had to change. And it has.
Tony Waller, Life member, former president and club captain - Coogee SLSC
|Bidjigal and Gadigal Country, Coogee, NSW|
|Randwick City Council, Coogee SLSC|
|Architecture, Interior Design|
2021, IPC IAKS Awards, Distinction for Accessibility, Winner
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