Almost 100 years after its first opening, the Bondi Pavilion has undergone a major makeover aimed at transforming it from a “white elephant” back into the cultural heart of the suburb.
The refurbished site, located between Campbell Parade and the world famous beach, opened to visitors on Friday and the designers are hoping the crowds will stay longer than necessary to change their swimmers.
Chief architect, Peter Tonkin of Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, says the task was monumental and overdue.
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“He was really in a very tired state. There were cracks everywhere, it wasn’t fit for purpose, “she says.
Tonkin says the pavilion had become an unloved “white elephant” that people viewed as a backdrop, rather than a hub of activity and a critical part of the suburb.
There are numerous cultural elements aimed at enticing visitors to explore, including a community theater, music recording spaces, a pottery studio, and the new interactive Bondi Story Room where visitors can learn about the area, events and important people.
Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos says the redesign has exceeded expectations.
“Everyone is amazed. The universal word is “wow,” she says. “It is an iconic building. It is known all over the world. I wanted to make sure we respected the building, but I showed how a historic building can become a 21st century building. “
Masselos hopes people will see Bondi reflected in space.
“There are things at the cutting edge, but it’s not an elite building,” he says. “You can walk in from the beach with the sand on your feet and have a coffee, or you can come later for dinner and a show.”
The $ 48 million upgrade saw the installation of approximately 33,000 sparkling Spanish interlocking terracotta tiles, as well as more than 200 solar panels to meet approximately 70% of the site’s energy consumption.
“We recreated this beautiful, colorful and partly reflective roof,” says Tonkin. “The whole building lifts up instead of being pushed down by the [previous] heavy gray roof.
“The other thing was to get lots of natural light and natural ventilation in the building so that you can leave all the doors open and people can just be invited in and out.”
Among the treasures unveiled during the project are murals that were incorporated into the new spaces and the remains of a short-lived Turkish bath that operated on the site when it first opened.
“It surprised the community because it looked at the building through a certain lens and suddenly its 1920s story appeared on the walls,” says Tonkin.