Text description provided by the architects. This linked series of three buildings forms part of Rockdale Council’s plan to reinvigorate the Cook Park beachfront area in Sydney. Our brief was to design three amenities blocks: two new buildings and a rework of a third existing poorly designed 1960s building, forming a linked, rhythmic series progressing along the coastal walk. The Council’s core objectives are to fundamentally upgrade the area, provide safe and secure community buildings, and to give the area a distinctive visual identity. We saw this as an opportunity to invert the stereotype public toilet block – uninviting, unpleasant, and unsafe. Our client was open to a strong design concept, using a different palette of materials.
We designed a series of compact and robust buildings, each responding to its individual site constraints – visibility from the street, access to the beach, connection to public pathways. The concept for each building revolves around a central ‘shared’ entranceway flanked by bathroom amenities on either side. This central space is designed to provide a level of transparency through the building - both visual and physical. A timber battened skin wraps around each building, further increasing the level of openness and visual connectivity.
External masonry walls – clad in this timber skin - have highlight openings to allow natural ventilation and light into each space yet provide a level of privacy. Glass block windows and skylights also provide diffuse light all day with punctuated operable windows in staff areas. Each building houses a large water tank within this organic form – offering the capacity to service the amenities throughout the year in an area prone to drought.
In the first building, the existing curved walls were retained and a new store room and water tank grafted onto the rear. Two unisex bathrooms lead off a central entrance and rest area. A freestanding timber screen provides an open shower area to the side of the building. The second building also house two unisex facilities with a staff kitchen, store room and water tanks on either end of the building. A faceted concrete wall at the northern end provides a public shower area. The third set of facilities houses unisex bathrooms as well as Male and Female facilities. These facilities were designed to be relatively permeable to enable visual surveillance throughout the day.
We chose materials for their longevity and vandal resistance as well as for their textural component - rendered and painted concrete block, concrete floors and roofs, glass blocks, and recycled kiln dried hardwood. Vibrant wall and ceiling colours punctuate each central entry space, identifying each building and unifying all the buildings collectively.
These buildings have been well received by the people using the foreshore park. Importantly, they have also met Councils central objective to rejuvenate the beachfront and provide continuity and a rhythm along the foreshore walk. We have now been commissioned to do a further series for the Council.