Grand designs of Christchurch: Sumner Surf Life Saving Club
With the changing face of Christchurch, we went in search of buildings that made us say "wow". Second in our five-part series is the Sumner Surf Life Saving Club
Rounding the corner at Shag Rock, it's the crescent roof peaks of the Sumner Surf Lifesaving Club that first catch the eye.
Beautiful and stoic against the backdrop of the beach, it's "the gateway to Sumner", architect David Hill says. He should know; he has to look at it every day on the drive home to the beachside community.
David was the perfect choice for this job. With a lifetime of surf lifesaving under his belt (he's a former Taylors Mistake club captain and president) and living in the area, he knew exactly what was needed and the stakes in getting it right.
* Grand designs of Christchurch: Cathedral Grammar Junior School
* Blow for surf life savers as building demolished
* Three generations of life savers
* Sumner beach a holiday spot in the city
Not only is it an essential build for the surf club, it's a key feature of the township.
Few architects are given the chance to build something right on the foreshore of a New Zealand beach.
"It's quite a privilege to get those sites," he says. "It's not often they put a building on a beach – it's quite special."
Of course, a build such as this one comes with its own challenges. Less than 40 years ago, the ocean was lapping at the edges of the surf club's previous building.
The beach changes over time and any structure needed to withstand a pretty heavy load. The club and community also wanted "a great piece of architecture", not just another changing shed.
David's first concept plan hardly changed at all, and the result of the design and building work that went into it is obvious.
The club is part of the landscape, from the sloping waves of the roof to the huge 300 square metre deck breaching the gap between building and beach.
The street-side walls are concrete and the cladding is cedar, left to weather and age over time. Inside, it's pared back – timber plank floors and neutral colours.
Next door, the public toilets have been designed to mirror the club building and give the beachside structures better flow. The building aims to blend in with the environment, rather than dominate.
"It was a project I really enjoyed," David says. "I've got that passion for surf lifesaving and it's nice to do something for them."
Address: Sumner Beach
Cost of build: About $2.8 million
Owner: Sumner Surf Lifesaving Club
Designer: Wilson and Hill Architects
Builder: Hawkins Construction
Completed: November 2015
Footprint: 460 square metres, plus public toilets