Robert Simeoni brings rustic charm to new facility in Frankston
The design of the Seaford Life Saving Club responded to a national design competition brief through consultation with the local community, including local Aboriginal Representatives (discussing the significance of shell middens on the site). The buildings’ positioning was further informed with the assistance of a geo-morphologist, who assessed sand dune degradation and possible rising water levels. Furthermore the ambitions of the client (Frankston City Council) and its financial capacity lead to an attitude towards building and detailing that was accepting of rawness and forthrightness as an appropriate and possibly beautiful quality.
The buildings and external spaces were conceived more as a landscape object rather than a complete (singular) building. The design is a collection of buildings with residual outdoor spaces that strive for an ambiguity between their being still in the manner of a courtyard or busy in the manner of a corridor. These outdoor spaces are contained by the buildings and manipulated by the use of folding screens and sliding panels to control accessibility and allow the differing zones to be adaptable to purpose, depending on the time of year or time of day. The open corridor gently rises so that as one approaches the horizon line of the bay is met – drawing the viewer further into the main space.
The folding screens create an additional skin important for curbing vandalism while the club is not in use, but also for buffering cold winds, filtering unwanted summer sun, and in tandem with the glass behind, to guide valuable cross-ventilation throughout internal spaces. The materiality of the interiors develops a sense of the exterior, and particularly for use by lifesavers, these spaces are lined with plywood, balustrades replaced with steel mesh cyclone fencing. This is consistent with the manner in which materials have been chosen for their durability, plainness and affordability, an attitude informing the choice of timber structurally with generic marine grade stainless steel connectors to minimise the costly use of steel and the potential for corrosion. Screw-piles were used to achieve the most minimal practical interference with the natural sand dunes resulting in a raft of decking upon which this collection of buildings rests.