Warren and Mahoney puts community at the centre of surf club redesign

August 8, 2018: News
Nicholas Bandounas

Nicholas Bandounas

Sydney

Warren and Mahoney has used extensive community engagement to guide the designs for the new $6.35 million Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club.

Mona Vale2

Warren and Mahoney has worked alongside council to engage in several consultative meetings throughout the design process for the new Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club to ensure the locals’ voices were heard; a selected working group of people from the neighbourhood then gave continuous feedback on the designs to help shape the project’s direction.

Lead architect on the project Thomas Hansen says gaining feedback from the public is an essential element of successful civic design.

“Ultimately the end user of any civic and community project has to be the focus,” said Thomas.

“In engaging the community throughout the process, we are able to understand the uses of the site, key concerns and how it will affect and enhance day-to-day lives.

“At Mona Vale SLSC it was important we developed a forum to allow locals and club members to come along on the journey and be engaged in the process, even before any lines were drawn on paper.”

Redefining the concept of a traditional life-saving club, Warren and Mahoney will create a space that acts as a focal point for the beachside community.

While the ground floor will optimise operations for the club, additional private and public function areas and a restaurant have been included to facilitate social interaction and engagement with the space.

The design for the project was guided by several integral principles including functionality, enduring design, the site’s rich history and the important role it plays in the local community as both a life-saving club and a social hub. The site’s location also heavily informed the design approach.

“The club is the connection between the park and the beach, so it was important to ensure it was a seamless transition and that the building complemented the natural environment,” said Hansen.  

“To achieve this we proposed a robust textured concrete ground level that anchors the building to the site, and a lightweight open structure on the second level, using timber and glass to provide openness and visual connection to its surrounds.

“Keeping the primary surf club operations positioned at the ground level, we elevated the function spaces to maximise views to the beach and headlands, promoting passive ventilation and allowing a dialogue with the natural beauty of Mona Vale.”

Prior to approaching the design, Warren and Mahoney undertook a detailed site investigation and functional brief analysis for the project. These findings were presented in the initial community group workshops and allowed greater dialogue between the group, helping to align council’s vision with the needs of the community.

The analysis revealed the potential challenges of refurbishing the site, including its heavy exposure to the elements and its propensity for flooding. This allowed the architects to proactively address these issues and display their findings to council to demonstrate the guiding principles behind the design.

In line with Warren and Mahoney’s commitment to sustainable design, Mona Vale SLSC will use recycled rainwater and has been fitted with both solar photovoltaic and solar domestic hot water systems.

Sydney Principal Nicholas Bandounas says putting the community and the users at the centre of the design process was vital in ensuring a positive response from locals.

“Warren and Mahoney is very proud of what has been achieved at Mona Vale SLSC. Considering the contextual constraints, economics, community needs and the council’s vision, we were able to approach the project holistically and land on an outcome that exceeds all stakeholder expectations,” said Bandounas.

The majority of the refurbishment will be funded by the State Government’s Stronger Communities Fund following the merger of the Manly, Pittwater and Warringah councils into the Northern Beaches Council in 2016, with the remainder of funds raised by the surf club.

The project is due to commence construction in the second quarter of 2019. 

Warren and Mahoney puts community at the centre of surf club redesign