Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club : VT#5 Place, Space and City Making
Places, their meaning to a community and the process of making of spaces for such places within a broader act of City Making require overlapping layers of consideration. How this is achieved is important to institutions like the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club; by identifying the importance of places with rich cultural history and meaning to its membership as well as celebrating them more broadly with the local community as an act of City Making.
This relationship is perhaps best illustrated through the design consideration of the Surf Club’s most important social spaces, notably the ‘new’ Ceremonial Hall and the Member’s area and associated verandah. From the perspective of Place both of these spaces are imbued with a rich cultural history and the collective memory of the club house(s) that preexisted the current renovations. The 2 storey space of the original building’s Ceremonial Hall had a rich history of meetings and social functions dating back to the building’s inception in the 1940s, yet had lost it’s appeal with the loss of light, windows and view through subsequent additions and the odd de facto ‘corridor’ that was created through it for the purposes of accessing the women’s change rooms (see post VT#3). Similarly, the Member’s Verandah and Bar replace previous spaces that were very pragmatically built; simply constructed over an existing boat shed, yet contained much memorabilia and held a nostalgic place in the minds of the Club’s members as the place for more incidental ‘post-surf’ gatherings with friends and colleagues.
With the refurbishment of the Cronulla Surf Club, it became clear in discussions with the Surf Club that the importance of these place should be amplified and elevated in the making of these Spaces within the new building. With the relocation of the Ceremonial Hall up one level in the building giving it access to light while retaining its 2 storey height, the opportunity arose for these two spaces to share a new expressive roof over the ‘base’ of the refurbished building. The new roof would clearly mark the Club’s important social spaces within the conglomerate of buildings that constitutes the Surf Club. The new expressive roof with its warm, twisting ceiling provides a rich character to the interior of the Ceremonial Hall and member’s verandah that clearly identifies and celebrates the importance of the places below it.
A certain element of City Making is to celebrate important spaces internal to the Club’s function by putting them on public display in order to identify their importance to the broader community. It was a conscious consideration for the Ceremonial Hall and the member’s balcony to share the same animated roof. The form of the roof (a hyperbolic paraboloid) and decisions about where it should be twisted and contorted were driven directly by how these spaces would be seen and understood beyond the Surf Club as an act of City Making. The warm underbelly of the roof over the Member’s balcony and the tall scale of the space clearly identify this as a place of importance for all to see on the important beach-side frontage. Similarly, the new entry created to the elevated park-side frontage ‘stretches’ the ceiling of the Ceremonial Hall over a new covered porch, to make a new landmark along an important path/vista commensurate with its importance as the new entry to the building and Ceremonial Hall.
Cities embody collective values and culture, and important institutions such as the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club and the places within it form part of those collective values that we share as a society that deserve not only to be identified but to be amplified and celebrated.