Australia Firm Reinvigorates Popular Beach with Surfhouse

Australia-based architecture and design Crone Partners proudly engages in a range of projects, from master planning and urban design to commercial and residential architecture to interior and landscape design. An environmentally friendly commercial tower, 180 Brisbane, is set to begin construction in 2013. The firm aims for it to become a landmark of the Brisbane Central Business District (Australia).

The tower will be one in many of the firm’s enterprises in marking the urban streetscape. But their seaside and country undertakings have been particularly exciting lately.

For the Merewether Surfhouse in Merewether Beach, Newcastle, Australia, Crone Partners designed a three-story beachside facility to house community and commercial activities. CO-AP designed the interiors, which include a café, kiosk, and public changing areas on the first floor, private and community event facilities on the second floor’s column-free space, and a restaurant/lounge/bar on the third floor. Taking advantage of the beautiful setting, Crone allowed for each of these spaces to spill into the outdoors via a promenade, veranda, and terraces.

Crone Partners wanted the surfhouse, completed in 2011, to help reinvigorate the beach’s southern end and stir tourism, using an urban planning, long-term lens when considering the building. Merewether Beach is home to surfing reserves and what have been dubbed “must-see” ocean baths.

The firm used the site’s natural typography as part of the building plan, rather than flattening out the natural slope. The building also now helps connect the street, Henderson Parade, to the beach, and exterior stairs encourage outdoor mingling amongst the beautiful seascape.

The street level leads to the third floor and the building’s main entrance, noted by a timber-clad sculptural form that gives the structure “visual identity, and…contextual and environmental coherence,” according to the firm’s web site. The pavilion style, with a second-floor balcony and covered terrace and third-floor terrace-bar, allows for maximum views.

Glass on the building’s skin allows visitors coming up to the building from the street to see the beach through the structure. The curved roof responds to the flowing waves. The surfhouse is not an eyesore to the natural scenery, but rather, enhances visitors’ experience of the beach.

Looking from the beach side, the building’s vertical and horizontal brown lines, glass reflecting a blue sky, and surrounding white fence mimic the colors of the seashore: blue water, white sea foam, and brown, sandy beach.

In the domestic architecture field, Crone Partners’s The Good House, finished in 2010, has been receiving widespread attention across the design-savvy blogs and web sites. In a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, the home is minimalist inside and out. Intersecting and overlapping boxes create zones for private and shared spaces within the house—and a bold, rectilinear exterior shape.

Old railway sleepers embedded in the ground form a subtle path that leads to the house, set back from the street and hidden by nature.

Although architecture is usually seen as static, Crone Partners wanted this house to be able to adapt to the family’s changing needs. Light enters every room. Operable louvers and sliding glass panels allow the family to open or close the house to the outside.

Inside, all surfaces appear rectilinear and flat. Handle-less cabinets and smooth walls heighten the minimalist feel. The architects added warmth not through decoration or excess, but through material: for instance, a timber storage unit breaks up a gray and white kitchen.


The Good House was named a 2012 Adobe Award (recognizing excellence in Australian residential design and construction) runner-up for Best Designed Home by an Architect or Building Designer Over 351 square meters; and was a finalist for the 2011 Houses Awards for a New House over 200 square meters (presented by Australia’s Houses magazine).

Headquartered in Sydney, Crone Partners also has offices in Melbourne, Newcastle, Dubai, and most recently opened an office in Brisbane. Founded more than twenty-five years ago, the award-winning firm aspires to find continued growth in offices and projects around the world.

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