Bondi Pavilion finally wins new sustainable life

The Bondi Pavilion rejuvenation project finally has the go-ahead after many years of impassioned back and forth debate between the community and the local council. In this case the public has emerged triumphant. Included in the plans are green leases for tenants to mandate the use of green packaging and other environmental controls.

Developers had been eyeing off the prime real estate on Bondi Beach’s foreshore for years, but the community have fought hard to keep the art deco icon a place for people rather than profit.

Architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer has been heading up the design team for six years and last month, the Construction, Forestry Mining and Engineering union lifted its “green ban”, a movement once led by the late Jack Mundey to protect culturally significant buildings, as the union was satisfied the building’s heritage and community functions would be maintained.

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos says that the council worked with the community closely on the design to see the pavilion “restored to its full glory.”

“Together with progress on the procurement of a contractor, the lifting of the green ban means we will be able to meet our construction start date of mid-June,” Mayor Masselos says.

So, what’s in the design blueprint for Bondi’s art deco icon? And, importantly, how sustainable is it?

The council has opted for a space that will cater to Bondi’s diverse local community and constant stream of visitors but hasn’t scrimped on environmental sustainability, targeting a 5 star Green Star rating.

In the 10 years or so that a revamp has been on the table, suggestions to remove treasured community items (such as the pottery shed) or put restaurants on the top floor have been met with strong community backlash. As such, project lead Wolfgang Ripberger says the existing community facilities aren’t going anywhere.

They will get some much-needed love and attention, however, with plans to renovate the art gallery and theatre, pottery studio, toilets and change rooms and other facilities such as recording studios.

New features include a tourist office, a cultural space called the Bondi Story Room to show the history of the area and an art gallery.

Ripberger told The Fifth Estate some commercial space for hospitality is necessary, especially when so many tourists visit the famous beach. There will be two commercial spaces for successful tenants.

With the volume of people moving through the space, waste from these premises was a key concern. As such, tenants must sign green leases that stipulate the use of recyclable/biodegradable takeaway containers, among other environmental controls.

A courtyard that’s more than a parking lot

The biggest change will be to breathe life into the courtyard and the underutilised rear of the building, which provides valuable shelter from the elements given the seaside location.

Ripberger says that the designers wanted the courtyard to function better for people rather than as a carpark.

“Because it’s prime real estate, and we want people to use it – because it is beautiful.”

Pedestrians will have direct access from the park and Bondi’s shop front down into the courtyard, which will be designed for adaptable uses – everything form music events to small markets.

“The building should not have a back when it sits within Bondi Park.”

The courtyard itself will be adorned with modern versions of the art deco colonnades out the front to provide shade and shelter and unify all sides of the courtyard. A direct line of sight out to sea will be established.

Restored to former glory

The building is getting the full heritage treatment including replacing the entire roof with the original Cordova tiles to replace the concrete ones put in after the war. Any intrusive add-ons that have been tacked on over the years will be removed, restoring the original symmetry of the building.

The old masonry building has good bones for keeping itself cool passively, Ripberger says, and is well placed to take advantage of naturally ventilating ocean breezes.

In addition, the enclosed atrium on the top of the building will be opened up to the elements for improved natural ventilation, acting as the “lungs of the building”.

Some spaces will need airconditioning but as in keeping with Green Star requirements, there will be operable doors and windows so that that cool air is kept in.

The building will also tap into the council’s stormwater recycling plant in Tamarama Park to meet its water needs, where suitable, and produce some of its own renewable power onsite with rooftop panels in places that don’t diminish the heritage aesthetic.

Plans to procure renewable energy to meet all of the Waverly Council’s energy needs will see the building run fully on renewables.

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