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Pretty in pastel – retro hospitality by the sea

The iconic Burleigh Pavilion at Burleigh Heads on Australia’s Gold Coast has been restored, renovated and expanded in a culturally and sustainably responsive way by architects Alexander & Co. Pastel tones and evocative shapes reflect and celebrate the venue's history, while the three bars cater to a range of tastes

Designed by Alexander & Co

From the architects:

Australia is known for its vast coastline, surfing spots, and beach culture. Oceanfront pavilions are of equal architectural and design importance and were built to provide shelter and amenity to bathers and surfers who flocked to the beaches when the ban on daytime ocean bathing was lifted in 1903.

The Burleigh Pavilion at Burleigh Heads on Australia’s Gold Coast, (a metropolitan area south of Brisbane in Queensland) is one such iconic beach ‘Pavilion’ structure.

The important ocean-facing building with panoramic views of the world-renowned surfing point break is historically significant, originally an indigenous meeting area and then built on top of a popular 1950s swimming pool.

The aging structure presented an opportunity to reintroduce a true 'Pavilion' building. Freestanding and beachfront this was a significant cultural responsibility that continues an esteemed line of Australian beach pavilion structures. 


Historically, this site is of significant value with indigenous inhabitants occupying the area for hundreds of years prior to European settlement. It later became a holiday campsite, skating rink and later, the Jack Evans swimming pool. 

The pavilion as we know it was built directly over this pool in 1987 whilst various tenancies operated around its perimeter.

Jeremy Bull, Principal of Alexander & Co

Sydney-based architectural practice Alexander &CO.was commissioned to renovate and expand the dilapidating structure. The design had to be a robust and easily maintained multipurpose venue that would appeal equally to guests who walked straight off the beach to those enjoying a smart lunch or dinner.

Built upon the rock, the works also had to accommodate storm surges and prevent flooding.

The resolution was a 1200 sqm venue; robust, sun-drenched and faded, a study in scale and simplicity.

Divided into three spaces; an a la carte restaurant (‘The Tropic’), a coastal brasserie (‘The Pavilion’) and a main outdoor beach bar.

Creatively the client wanted the project to evoke memories of his childhood spent holidaying in Burleigh Heads; a 70’s Gold Coast beach nostalgia.

The old pavilion dates to the 1980s and is built upon an old outdoor pool on top of the various coastal rock. As well as this and as mentioned, it is prone to flooding from storm surges.

As a result, the works required to reinforce the structure were vastly complex requiring a virtual reconstruction of the building, doubling existing columns with a new super steel structure and concrete framework. 

The lower floor of the building has been built to accommodate storm surges by installing removable bifold glazing and allowing storm surges to move into and through the building.

Jeremy Bull, Principal of Alexander & Co

The project explores a design that is both elegant and enduring. Beautiful volumes and architectural shapes are accented with faded pastels, corbeled clockwork, and bold awnings. These materials were selected for not only their aesthetic value but their unique ability to withstand heavy wear from the elements.

Outside, the building envelope gently reveals itself from behind a fenestrated entry elevation and under a great concrete canopy. Two palm trees and extruded metal letters announce its presence. A hint of its retro DNA is seen in circular breeze block whilst tropical gardens flank the entry doors.

Inside, a large central open kitchen with two pizza ovens and a fire pit pushes patrons toward an ever-reaching view where various furnishings encourage them to eat, stand and drink. It is a hive of gastronomic energy built within a curving masonry arbor, a nod to past pavilion structures once dotted up and down the coast.

From this kitchen, the three portions of the venue radiate; an unobstructed 50-metre expanse of oceanfront view looks north to the Gold Coast and south to the Burleigh beach point break.

The Tropic restaurant marks itself clearly with its rattan ceiling, crazy paved floor and pink and brass highlights. A coastal brasserie; this is the sexy older sister to the main beach bar and Pavilion terrace bar.

The Pavilion bar to the south is an open expanse with painted concrete block detailing and ample seating. High bar seating cascades down to the tiled window nooks which perch over the water's edge.

The main beach bar has in scale and simplicity what the Tropic has in detail and intimacy. It is a vast open volume with expressed structures, views in every direction and robust energy underneath an umbrella canopy.

Through its careful restoration, the Burleigh Pavilion has reinvigorated the headland, community engagement, and local amenity; offering patrons of all demographics a place to gather, celebrate and enjoy the abundance of the Burleigh Heads horizon.

We see innovation as a solution that uses less (material, cost) to achieve more. A careful selection of robust materials that would stand the test of time was fundamental to the design also. 

The Burleigh Pavilion is the third project in a series of ‘low-cost material fit-out’ executions from our Practice where the base build fabric – exposed concrete, steel, and timber – has been configured to deliver both brand deployment and operational efficiency whilst minimising fit-out fabric and in turn reducing future wastage and redundancy.

Jeremy Bull, Principal of Alexander & Co

Embodied energy, renewable and sustainable materials, inert and low VOC fabrics have been used in strategic, sparing ways too.

Credit list

Architect
Alexander & Co; design team: Jeremy Bull, Sophie Harris, Samantha Birtles
Interior design
Alexander & Co; design team: design team: Charlene Cong, Jay Sethasastrakorn, Madison Fay, Lucy Forlico

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Anson Smart

03 May, 2020

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