At the Bondi end of Sydney’s Coastal Walk, as the narrow track bends into the curving headlands, the grassy expanse of Marks Park and a coastal panorama from Bondi to Maroubra Beach unfolds at the top of the hill. This majestic stage has long been home to a bunkered barnacle of a public toilet, unarguably necessary as it was ugly. Being too functional to demolish and start again, the task was to recycle the existing building and transform it into a building worthy of its spectacular location.
A deep veranda was added to the south-west face of the building to provide shelter from the oppressive afternoon sun and driving southerly rains, and to heighten the users’ awareness of place. The veranda – an intimately scaled space elevated from the surrounding park – allows universal access to the amenities and hosts precast concrete communal wash troughs. The rhythm of the timber posts from the veranda frames stunning views towards Tamarama surf break and the Waverley Cemetery.
Externally, the building has been wrapped in a skin of recycled hardwood posts which unifies the form and gives rise to a play of textures and shadows throughout the day. This skin will weather naturally, shaped by the harsh salt and sun of the exposed headland, and over time settle into the muted silver tones of the nearby banksia scrub and sandstone escarpment. The timbers for the recycled hardwood skin were sourced from the demolition of the cavernous former Waverley Council Works Depot buildings at Zetland. The eighty year old timbers provided an unexpected windfall of long lengths that unify the disjointed and stumpy original form of the building.
The female and male amenities spaces were gutted, rationalised and re-planned to double the facility capacity. Robust materials of terrazzo and ceramic were chosen to remain beautiful with constant use and in the harshness of the elements. Judicious cuts into the original fabric inundate interior spaces with natural light and air. Natural light amplifies the warm hues of the shell pink ceiling.
Sam Crawford, Imogene Tudor, Ken Warr, Ben Chan, Antonia Frey, Madeleine Rowe, Matthew Bolton, Chelsea Harper
with Sonia van de Haar, Lymsmith
Project Manager – Complete Urban
Access & BCA – BCA Logic
Graphic Design – Deuce Design
Hydraulic Engineer – Jones Nicholson
Land Surveyor – RPS
Lighting and Electrical Engineer – Jones Nicholson
Quantity Surveyor – Altus Page Kirkland
Structural Engineer – Cantilever
2016 – Public Architecture Award – NSW Australian Institute of Architecture
2016 – Small Project Award – NSW Australian Institute of Architecture
2016, July 2-3 – Sydney Morning Herald
2016, May 12 – Architecture & Design