Burleigh Pavilion is Coast Nostalgia Heaven

WADES Report explores the design of Burleigh Pavilion and asks, ‘what makes the quintessential coastal hospitality venue in Australia?’

Burleigh Heads in Queensland is a site of significant history. Historically it was an indigenous meeting area with fresh water and oyster catchments, a holiday campsite and skating rink. It became Jack Evans swimming pool. The Pavilion was built directly over this pool in 1987.

The latest incarnation of Burleigh Pavilion exudes ‘Gold Coast nostalgia’, both in its aesthetic and overall ambience. An absolute beachside site, its design creates a space that is as welcoming for those coming straight off the beach as it is for diners visiting for a formal meal or gathering.

“We (Australians) have this very particular relationship with the coast,” says Jeremy Bull, the Principal of Alexander &CO, the practice responsible for designing several landmark Australian venues including Sydney’s Watsons Bay Hotel.

“The sand gives us permission to break the usual rules. It is visceral, sexy, unstructured,” he explains.

“Regardless of the specific genre of the coastal venue, there is the same need to bring these coastal ‘regulations’ into our venue. To extend the ‘sand’ into the building. That is where the venues come alive, when they avoid the programmatic constraints of a venue and belong more to coast. Not so much a function of sandy colours and curving shapes, this is more about careful deprogramming and architectural irregularity,” Bull says.

The 1200 sqm Burleigh Pavilion achieves this through three spaces, ‘The Pavilion’, ‘Beach Bar’ and ‘The Tropic’ restaurant. Faded pastels, corbeled blockwork and bold awnings accentuate the architectural shapes. Much of the furniture was custom designed and manufactured. The ability to combine 1970s colours, fabrics and shapes effortlessly into a modern context is an art form in itself.

The unique nostalgia references were drawn from extensive research by the Alexander &CO team.

“We drew on hundreds of references of old surfboards, blonde haired skate boarders, fairy floss and sun bleached beach pavilions,” Bull says.

“There is just this huge reservoir of memories available when diving into this world of nostalgia but the consistent thread was a kind of faded youth memorabilia, unhurried groups sitting by breaking waves; graphic, sexy and salty.”

The Burleigh Pavilion is the third project in a series of ‘low cost material fit-out’ executions by Alexander &CO with materials carefully selected for longevity and to reduce wastage. Embodied energy, renewable and sustainable materials, inert and low VOC fabrics have been used in strategic, sparing ways also.

Images courtesy Alexander &CO. Photography: Anson Smart. Editorial Styling: Claire Delmar.