Driftwood isolated on a beach may not arouse feelings of inquisitiveness, but what about an old wooden crate? Would you not be intrigued? Would you not want to know what lay beneath?
This design philosophy, implementing a premeditated use of timber, gave rise to Umina Beaches’ café/amenities pavilion. Positioned all alone, the timber skinned crate-like formation bounds the northern edge of a children’s coastal playground, located less than 50m from breaking surf. The crate is upturned and elevated off the ground, subsequently exposing its true purpose as elements of contrasting construction fall out from underneath. The crate's timber components are simple, repetitive, crafted with a high degree of precision, and visually meld with surrounding terrain.
An elongated plan allows the crate to formalize one entire edge of the playground, and although retaining a high degree of visual transparency, it is an orientation device for users.
The Timber skin was installed untreated and unseasoned, allowing surfaces to patina in harmony with adjacent woodland regeneration areas. Timbers are expected to split, warp, twist, rot, and grey, with oversized cross-sections specified to increase the life-span of the skin. Timbers are furthermore expected to be resilient to unnatural-weathering, requiring resistance to impact, fire, and mistreatment. Ironbark hardwood was the natural choice for required resistance to weathering without aid and corresponding inherent bomb-proofing attributes. Adoption of straightforward connection details allows for undemanding maintenance or replacement.
The skin construction of spaced timbers allows banded light penetration during the day, offers the night environment a 42m long syncopated lantern structure, and a reinterpretation of rainscreen type construction provides the first layer of protection against precipitation.
The resultant building is unusual, visually memorable, and one that locals enjoy endlessly. The aging of the timbers reflects symbolically the aging of the children they serve – the cycle of life.