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By Murray Cox on June 1, 2017 in News

Picture: Reg Mombassa

In good design, ‘form follows function’ – Bondi Pavilion is and has been a community cultural centre for 40 years. In the ‘Stage 1’ development proposal for the Pavilion there is no substantive change from the December 2015 plans, which were castigated by a community response of over 700 submissions in early 2016 and again in an independent consultation in late 2016.

This current DA splits the more politically palatable elements – restoring a heritage façade, retiling a leaking roof, new toilets, solar panels – from the principal agenda of the scheme, which is privatisation of the upper floor for a corporate function facility and the installing of a glass box ‘multi-function’ facility in the southern courtyard.

The Pavilion houses the only public theatre and art gallery in the three eastern municipalities – along with the two large halls, two courtyards, and amphitheatre it is a unique and affordable venue for single and multi-stage events. The proposed pond in the northern courtyard and 50 palm trees will severely curtail these possibilities for the sake of a ‘resort effect’.

The Bucket List’s ‘glass bubble’ is a poorly designed protuberance on an attractive colonnaded façade, but it is an example where the gradual accretions of cultural use strongly contribute to a building’s heritage. The bubble’s elevated view of the beach and weather protection, along with the rear addition for cool rooms, storage, and office space essential to a facility catering for 400 patrons, will be demolished in the Stage 1 scheme and there is no provision for a vibrant restaurant that connects the beach and promenade to the Pavilion.

On the council website and in its consultant Arup’s report on ecologically sustainable development, daylight and fresh air are considered “innovative” and they wrongly infer that the Pavilion stormwater will be recycled. In fact all stormwater flows into existing pipes. The essential ecological point is that with all the funds expended on French tiles and copper guttering and downpipes, nothing is spent on respecting the rain.

Council’s publicity says “many more toilets for the Pavilion”, stating there are currently 27 toilets and 12 showers, forgetting that they propose to demolish the Bucket List and their own council staff amenities room – there are, in fact, currently 38 toilets and 15 showers.

The municipality is becoming more populous and the publicly owned community and cultural spaces are shrinking. There is no driving spirit to the design that matches technological innovation with the creative and playful culture of Bondi. Sadly it is merely a plan to wrap some amenities and shops in a heritage façade.