Cox Rayner Architects and CA Architects complete new building for the Cairns Yacht Club
Australia’s north Queensland region has long sought to produce an architecture which is quintessentially the tropical north.
This project is sited on a proboscis of land that separates the harbour of Cairns from its river mouth, and is the most prominent point in this tourism-based city, renowned for its access to the world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.
While there were some client thoughts about an ‘iconic statement' on the point, they and the architects agreed that if the project offered a better opportunity to create a place that could captivate both the city community and visitors in contrast to the ‘imported’ tourism architecture that characterises Cairns.
The architects extended the brief from that of a yacht club to include cafés, bars and restaurants, enabling a series of pavilions to be arranged around a courtyard, a new outdoor space for the city. The uses for the architecture forms were taken from the historic vernacular sheds and wharfs awaiting revival along the port. This influence generated ways to engage the water, and to enable the pavilions to open up in pleasant weather or seal down during cyclonic conditions.
The buildings are designed to encapsulate the languid, tropical lifestyle of the north, and the crafted nature of early boat-related architecture.
They are comprised of as much external canopied space as internal, the interface being blurred in varying ways, by sliding screens, tilting panels and other types of operable wall. The orientations and roof plans are devised to induce breezes, the canopies to optimise shade and driving rain protection, and the flow of spaces to entice repeat patronage. This has been more successful than we imagined, the precinct being the seminal meeting place of the city.
The project was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects’ Eddie Oribin Award in recognition of one of Australia’s largely unsung architectural heroes whose houses of the mid-20th century are only now being valued for their embodiment of the country’s northern tropics.
This project was completed in joint venture by Cox Rayner Architects and CA Architects