Many of Australia's surf clubs were built more than a century ago and efforts are underway to renovate a number of these unique pieces of architecture. North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club is one of the nation's oldest clubs and its recent award-wining renovation was designed to reflect the waves of Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach.
North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, Sydney – The new club won a public architecture commendation in the 2014 Australian National Architecture Awards. "Its organic curves attempt to give an eroded quality of having been shaped by the waves," says one of the architects involved in the new clubhouse design, Peter Colquhoun. The club was designed by Durbach, Block, Jaggers Architects in association with Colquhoun, along with a fund raising and building consultancy team led by Ben Griffiths of Eley Griffiths Group and volunteer members of the surf club.
North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, Sydney – "The sweeping curves of the top parapet echo the curves of Bondi and the movement of the ocean. The external cladding are mosaic tiles that reflect day light, which is ever changing season to season," says Colquhoun.
City Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Perth – City Beach Surf Life Saving Club in Perth, Australia, designed by Christou Design Group, won a 2016 Western Australian Architecture award.
City Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Perth – "City Beach Surf Club is located on a breathtaking coastline. Clear blue water matched by stunning skies. The architecture of clean lines responds to the characteristics of the breathtaking coastline," says James Christou, the architect who lead the club's design and managing director of Christou Design Group.
City Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Perth – "The coast plays an important role in the Australian lifestyle. The surf club culture -- a culture of volunteering -- is synonymous with the Australian lifestyle," says Christou.
Devonport Surf Life Saving Club, Tasmania – The award-winning Devonport Surf Life Saving Club in Tasmania also took the waves of the ocean as inspiration and was designed to blend in with its dynamic coastal environment, according to the architects, JAWS Architects.
Devonport Surf Life Saving Club, Tasmania – "Seen from all angles, the building is treated as a sculptural element carefully placed in the manicured coastal environment," say JAWS Architects.
Devonport Surf Life Saving Club, Tasmania – To facilitate separate identities, the development is composed of two distinct pavilions sharing a common foyer space. One houses the surf club and the other incorporates restaurant and cafe facilities to serve local beach users.
Devonport Surf Life Saving Club, Tasmania – The interior of Devonport Surf Club provides sweeping views across the ocean while incorporating strong sculptural elements into the design.
Seaford Life Saving Club, Victoria – The Seaford Life Saving Club, designed by Robert Simeoni, won the 2010 World Architecture News (WAN) World Civic Building of the year award for its design, as well as a Victorian and Australian architecture award.
Seaford Life Saving Club, Victoria – "The contemporary timber building used in the Seaford Life Saving Club renovation salutes the materials used in early surf club design," says Colquhoun.
Kempsey Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club, NSW – Replacing a dilapidated old structure, Kempsey Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club, designed by Neeson Murcutt Architects, won the 2016 Sulman Medal for Public Architecture at the NSW Architecture Awards.
Kempsey Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club, NSW – "The building belongs to a landscape -- it is designed in the round. Its pitched roof and cut-away walls produce a sculpted form with a unique appearance on each side, reinforced by color," says project architect, Tamas Jones, from Neeson Murcutt Architects.
Kempsey Crescent Head Surf Life Saving Club, NSW – "A beachy, sparkly skin in soft pipi shell pastels wraps the building. Materials selection was critical due to its location 40 meters from breaking surf. The external walls are glazed brick and the membrane roof is clad in matching floor tiles. Internally the palette is deliberately raw -- concrete, concrete block, plywood, terrazzo," says Jones.
Bicheno Surf Life Saving Club, Tasmania – This beautiful but extraordinarily simple club in Tasmania won the 2014 Australian Institute of Architects National Small Project Architecture Award. Built adjacent to an old 1960s toilet block, the building was originally going to be a tin shed, but the wooden-slatted structure, designed by local firm Birrelli art+design+architecture, proved to be a cheaper and more aesthetically pleasing alternative.
Bicheno Surf Life Saving Club, Tasmania – "It's a little bit, psychologically speaking, a bit like a church a village used to build, that's what comes to my mind...the village...sees that building with that perspective," Bicheno's ex-mayor, Betrand Cadart, has said of the town's SLSC.
Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club, Sydney – Sydney's Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club is officially recognized as the oldest surf lifesaving club in the world. Established on February 21, 1907, today the club has over 1,000 members with approximately 260 active volunteer lifesavers.
Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club, Sydney – Swimmers prepare to enter the water during the Bondi to Bronte Ocean Swim at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. This annual event is swum over a 2.5 kilometer course between the first two Surf Life Saving clubs in the world.
Bondi Icebergs Club, Sydney – Although not technically a surf club, Bondi Icebergs, located on the southern end of Sydney's Bondi Beach, is one of country's largest and best-known swimming clubs. It boasts more than 1,000 members, 400-500 of whom compete every weekend -- including in winter -- in a stunning outdoor ocean pool perched below a cliff.
Bondi Surf Bather's Life Saving Club, Sydney – Surf clubs provide a broad range of services to the local community, from beach patrols to a place to gather with friends for a meal or a drink -- and occasionally a place to cast your vote, as seen here during the Australian federal election in 2016.
Cottosloe Surf Life Saving Club, Perth – This beautiful clubhouse, on Cottesloe Beach in Perth, was established in 1909 and is Western Australia's oldest surf life saving club.
Coogee Surf Life Saving Club, Sydney – Coogee Surf club, which is one of the largest in Australia, opened in 1907 and the first clubhouse -- a wooden shack -- was built in 1910. The current clubhouse suffered extensive damage during a violent storm that hit Sydney in June 2016.
Coogee Surf Life Saving Club, Sydney – Many of Australia's surf life saving clubs are showing signs of wear and tear from the constant exposure to the elements. A huge wave that hit the eastern side of the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club during the June storm tore a hole in the wall and smashed windows.
Coogee Surf Life Saving Club, Sydney – The picture shows the extent of the damage from the outside -- as well as the constant battle with nature these buildings face.
Coogee Surf Life Saving Club, Sydney – Coogee SLSC volunteer, Julien Vincent poses in the damaged clubhouse.
Currumbin Surf Life Saving Club, Queensland – Surf Life Saving Clubs across the nation have to be built to withstand extremes of weather, from searing heat to huge storms. Here, a wave washes over a flipped car near the Currumbin Surf Club building along a stretch of Gold Coast beach in the Australian state of Queensland following a severe storm.
Bicheno Surf Life Saving Club, Tasmania – They may occupy prime coastal real estate, but Australian surf clubs need to be practical buildings. Here Bicheno SLSC stores the equipment the club's life savers use to rescue distressed swimmers from the water and train young 'Nippers' in surf life saving skills.