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Bondi Icebergs Club

Part 2 Project 2002
Marko Damic
Esther Rivas Adrover
University of New South Wales Sydney Australia
An icon of Australian culture, the Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club dates from 1929. Its recent demolition banished over 700 club members and thousands of visitors to the sea. The proposal for a new club created discontent in the Bondi community. It misunderstood the symbiotic relationships between social, historical, ritualistic and invisible aspects that constitute the core robustness of Bondi Beach. Expressing constituency fuelled my investigation of two generative realms: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic: The active body traces the form within. Associations, memory and empathy inform the architecture. As the body stops, moves and transits, architecture and space close around the warmth.

Extrinsic: Forces also inform from without. Genius loci, history and environmental forces impress upon the form. Meaning changes and morphs as these forces fluctuate. A dynamic architecture emerges that embodies kinetic energy sculpted from intrinsic and extrinsic rituals.

‘Form follows Force’: 3D modelling generated a series of sectional analyses that produced an abstracted template. Wave movements joined with surfing culture, to make the new club – site-as-edge, reciprocity of land, water and erosion, provided additional forces, creating a soluble form. The coastal sculpture walk, headland paths, solar axis, seasonal changes and wind, became extrinsic cues. An architecture was woven with the rituals within, producing ambiguous and transformative spaces. The stage and sundeck for Flickerfest film festival emit a recognisable signal, transforming the club’s appearance whilst messages from British tourists screen along the walkway.

Architecture transmutes environment and rituals in a constant cycle. The Club becomes one with its surroundings, a microcosm of Bondi.

Marko Damic
Esther Rivas Adrover


Marko's proposal remakes an Australian icon, the Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club. Through a rich and complex studio strategy of characterisations, avatars and analogs, Marko explored the theme of freedom in place, beginning with a 'confection' - an assembly of many events, brought together and juxtaposed in one place.

The project's challenge became that of provoking and fostering civic action in the face of incipient conformism, combating this displacement of creativity by encouraging the unplanned, the spontaneous and the indescribable, and exploring those "rituals in between" that commingle the intrinsic and the extrinsic.

As Marko's Icebergs responds to a set of ever changing conditions, the solutions must themselves be ever changing; the resultant architecture is part site/part event, so therefore part organic, part artificial. To achieve this the project brings together images, events and opportunities, to create tactile information derived from an understanding of needs and desires, and the spirit of place. Through them, we can combine a multiplicity of notions into the context of a newly inhabited place.

The Icebergs is more concerned with making places than with making plans and thus has demanded attention to much more than typologies or image. Particular conditions of place have been reified to engage all our senses, as well as memory, myth, meteorology and (most importantly) movement - physical, spatial, temporal, experiential, reactive, proactive - movement is a prime generator.

We can appreciate this project in terms of what can it encapsulate: what rituals, what human interactions that cannot exist (or co-exist) within and around the site at the moment? Icebergs becomes a collection of miniature theatres of understanding, serving to illuminate a point, explain an operation, mark a place, illustrate an action and encompass myriad possibilities. It can tell one story, it can tell many stories.

2002
• Page Hits: 1862         • Entry Date: 17 September 2002         • Last Update: 17 September 2002