Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club : VT#1 Seeking Common Good
Most briefs are centred on the interests and aspirations of the client which may bear little relationship to the needs and aspirations of other entities, Councils, neighbours or the broader public. The brief for the CSLSC was no exception, but seeking common good can influence the success of projects by capitalising on shared benefits with the public and other entities beyond the clients requirements.
Consideration of the original building’s footprint during the design of the CSLSC offers some insights. How could something as seemingly abstract as building footprint have any bearing on interests of common good or the success of the project?
From the outset it was clear that the site would be contentious because of the project’s significance and the club house’s prominence on Cronulla Beach. Any increase in height or footprint would be met with resistance for a myriad of reasons; heritage, view loss, park loss as well as difficulty in relocating critical infrastructure; a sewer line to the west and a vehicular access to the south. Cost would not permit the relocation of services or frivolous expenditure within a tightly constrained budget.
However, the brief implied more room; a bigger building, but without a bigger site. The success of any proposal would therefore be forged on consolidating and restraining from any encroachment beyond the existing building footprint.
Detailed ideas and strategies were progressively developed by Redshift, through ongoing conversations with the Club. These conversations assisted in understanding what the club house actually needed and how it could best function while retaining the same confined building footprint. A number of strategies were developed that not only addressed key aspects of the brief but were coupled with community or shared benefit. An example of this is the new park-side entry and sawtooth roof that were designed to animate what was previously a blank rear facade along Cronulla’s well used pedestrian Esplanade.
Space saving strategies were also imbued with broader public or social benefit. In some cases the footprint of the building was reduced where it was considered valuable to the public and to better address heritage considerations; an existing stair that was considered ‘intrusive’ to the character of the heritage building quality was demolished providing the Club with a third roller door to the beach and access to previously inaccessible storage areas.
In some cases, encroachments beyond the footprint were necessary; such as a ramp for essential disabled access, but such encroachments could be readily accepted and defended on the basis of the common good that was offered by the project in addressing the context and broader community’s aspirations.
This more broadly symbiotic attitude towards addressing the Club’s requirements was perhaps best highlighted following building completion when a partnership was established with the local RSL Club to provide catering services for the surf club. The member’s area and its tall verandah will arguably become one of the most important social spaces in the day to day life of the Club where the camaraderie of the Club’s members will be on full display from their elevated vantage point over Cronulla Beach. Servicing the bar to the member’s area on an ongoing basis will be important to the social fabric of the Surf Club but could not be readily achievable within the cost constrained volunteer structure of the CSLSC.
If we had not considered several complimentary strategies; notably, to consolidate the function rooms onto one level of the building so that they could be serviced by a single kitchen, and to co-locate the members’s area and its tall verandah to the same location as the kitchen the relationship with the RSL would not have been viable. The partnership with the RSL will allow the Bar to be serviced on an ongoing basis. The symbiotic strategies empowered the possibility with an understanding of the opportunity.
The income from the hire of the Club’s function rooms facilitated by the collaboration with the RSL will be an important part of the Club’s ongoing financial security. The collaboration with the RSL would not have been possible without clear strategies, an understanding of the opportunities, and sensitivity to the neighbouring RSL’s interests during the design process.
The considered strategies embodying common good assure that the CSLSC will remain a viable organisation that can continue to perform its important services for the community.