South City Beach Kiosk

                                                                                                                                                             Image by Fritz Kos

The City of Cambridge is currently seeking community feedback until September 12th on whether to retain, repair and reappropriate the South City Beach Kiosk and Toilets or to simply demolish them.

One can’t help but feel this is a leading question when the photo they use shows this graceful structure burdened with carbuncles from years of overpainting and inappropriate signage. To many, this might validate the easy decision of demolition especially when the new municipal beachfront facilities 150 meters North of the kiosk are now complete and occupied.
But this is a significant structure in the history of Western Australian Architecture delivered by Tony Brand for Forbes and Fitzhardinge in 1970. It should be recognised that the new municipal facilities do deliver commercial floor plates for large scale formal hospitality but do not provide for small scale informal hospitality offerings so applicable to a classic suburban beach.
I could try and commit my feelings about the inherent value of this structure to paper but I think the following text from C+A magazine, November 2012 does it so much better;

“Nestled into the folds of circular sand dunes and coastal grasses facing the Indian Ocean, this beach kiosk and changing rooms is so attuned to its environment that, driving past it along the West Coast Highway you could miss it. Look closely however, and you’ll find one of the gems of Australian Beach Architecture. From here, on the edge Australia’s farthest coastline, Architect Antony Brand embedded a free form, swirling concrete castle in the sand.
At its most basic, the kiosk is a low, continuous ribbon of off-form corrugated concrete, bent and curled to create enclosure; with an exaggerated scalloped shell like roof laid across it to make shade and shelter.
At its most sophisticated it is an inspired piece of sculpture-making, stepping directly onto the beach and appearing to grow out of the sand; as comfortable in its setting as the dunes and coastal grasses that from some aspects seem to engulf it. The perimeter walls were made using corrugated iron sheet formwork to create a seamless, continuous flow, free from joints and applied finishes, to withstand the harsh environment and stinging windblown sands driven by the strong south-westerlies that prevail along this stretch of coast during the summer months.

The deeply contoured roof, with its concrete formed storm water spouts, is constructed as a freestanding canopy on concrete columns, its eaves honed to a fine edge so as to appear to hover over the building in almost weightless suspension.”

The quoted cost for roof repair is $150k, well short of replacement cost for the structure. Surely it’s worth pursuing an EOI for a small scale independent operator to provide a diversified hospitality offering for this part of the coast.

In Perth we are so afraid to make the most of our riverine and coastal assets for public enjoyment in fear of destroying the natural environment so why destroy a modest example which is so appropriately nestled into its landscape?

You can have your say in the future on this structure now by clicking here

Words by James Thompson, Creative Director- MJA Studio