Mahon Pool Amenities / Lahznimmo Architects
Text description provided by the architects. Mahon Pool is a rock pool located to the North of Maroubra Beach, at the base of a dramatic sandstone outcrop on the edge of Jack Vanny reserve. Between the 1950s and 1970s, a cluster of red brick amenities buildings and a clubhouse were built overlooking the pool. The expression and prominent siting of these structures were seen as an eye saw and their dilapidated condition at end of life. lahznimmo acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people, on which the building lies, and pays our respects to Elders, past present, and emerging.
The brief from Randwick City Council was to replace the original buildings, which consisted of accommodation for the local Seals winter swimming club and general amenities and change facilities in addition to the inclusion of an accessible toilet and parents’ change room and accessible pathway to the building from the public carpark above. The new amenities building seeks to recede into the dramatic rock outcrop landscape on which it is sited. It has been located further away from the cliff edge, and in doing so, prominent ocean views over the headland have been restored, and a generous concrete skirt added. This concrete plane was resolved closely with Sue Barnsley Landscape Design and accommodates the swimming club BBQs and functions, as well as providing a place for the public to meet, lounge, or move through.
The siting also provided an opportunity to redirect the popular Eastern Beaches Coastal walkway across Jack Vanny reserve to the headland via a new path that provides on-grade access to the new amenities. The main site constraints of existing services infrastructure and the sloping topography lead to a compact linear arrangement of toilets and shower cubicles, that bend and turn as if part of the rock outcrop on which they sit. The swimming clubhouse is separated in plan from the amenities, allowing each to have its own identity, separated by a stair connection to the coastal walkway and carpark.
Having established a clean concrete podium level, the materials palette is completed with robust precast concrete panels at a low level, and a lighter, more open zone of gold color anodized aluminum blades- each material applied between strong horizontal lines balancing privacy, natural ventilation, and daylight. The precast concrete wall panels have a textured weathered appearance, consisting of sandy colored oxide base, with exposed rose granite aggregate providing pink hues which echo the colors of the exposed sandstone outcrop. Full-height vertical slots in the precast panels provide ventilation to the amenities, with angled ends to maintain visual privacy. The entry to the amenities is marked by a generous break in the precast concrete wall, with the communal handwash positioned within to look out to the park and ocean views.
The fixed aluminum louver blades at high-level fan open and closed at strategic locations both maintain visual privacy within showers and cubicles, but allow breezes and filtered natural light where privacy is less of a concern. An off-form concrete roof extends out to provide shelter beyond the amenity’s entry and is notched at the circulation gap between the buildings as a subtle wayfinding gesture. The resulting building provides not only the briefed functionality but embeds itself into the dramatic landscape and improves view lines and social connections in and around the reserve.