Merewether Surf House
PROJECTS  /  Merewether Surf House

Merewether Surf House

CO-AP Architects
Project Manager:
Crone Partners
Ross Honeysett

It was for years considered one of the worst blights on Newcastle's coastline, and its demolition followed years of public angst about the abandoned Surf House, which was damaged in the 1989 earthquake and closed in 1995.

Interior fit-out of a new beachfront development at Merewether Beach in Newcastle.

The three-storey base building was designed by Crone Partners.

Co-Ap was approached by the lessee to design the interiors for all three levels, incorporating a restaurant & bar, function rooms and a beachfront kiosk & cafe. 

The top floor provides direct access from the street. The restaurant and bar are located on this level. The kitchen and wet-bars have been split into two areas in order to define circulation routes and separate the restaurant and bar programs visually & acoustically. Both share the same guest amenities which are located behind the wet-bars and purposefully obstruct the view of the beach from the entry. This allows for the spectacular views to be revealed as the visitor moves from the maitre’d station into the restaurant dining room or the bar and outdoor terrace.

Eighty-one thousand wine bottle corks were hand-glued to clad the curved double barrel forms which separate the two zones. A glass wash area inside this serves both the main bar and restaurant bar. The cork cladding provides acoustic attenuation between the noisy bar and more ambient restaurant. Black terrazzo is used to clad the wet-bars.

The inclined geometry of the building cladding continues inside as a timber dowel screen wall, curving into the restaurant where it doubles as the reclined back of a banquette seat.

Rolling perforated aluminium half-pipes are used for the ceiling, providing another layer of acoustic attenuation for a comfortable dining experience. Lighting and services were also integrated into the bespoke ceiling system.

A similar scaled down solution was used on the middle level for the function rooms. Permanent wet-bars were designed as a backdrop to the 180 degree ocean views. Operable acoustic wall panels provide flexibility for up to seven different event configurations.

Special attention was given to each of the three ceilings on their respective levels as these would the ‘fifth elevation’ seen when looking up into the interiors from the beach.

The lower floor houses the kiosk and cafe which open out onto the beachfront promenade. The majority of storage and service areas are also located on this level. The kitchen serves and separates the cafe and kiosk. It is located up against the facade of the building, providing views for the staff and interest for customers looking into the open kitchen. 

Function and comfort were important criteria for furniture selections. A recurring theme was the use of perforations and open weave materials to allow for filtered views through spaces. This concept is also evident in the detailing of architectural elements and bespoke furniture pieces such as the bar lounge and outdoor duck-board tables.

Situated on Merewether Beach within the Crown Reserve and recently declared a National Surfing Reserve, the location is unbeatable. It has always been a mecca for surfers shooting for the wave of the day; sunrise walkers; bathers; bodysurfers; and beachgoers set for a day in the sun.

It was for years considered one of the worst blights on Newcastle's coastline, and its demolition followed years of public angst about the abandoned Surf House, which was damaged in the 1989 earthquake and closed in 1995.

A leading Sydney consortium of hotel and restaurant operators signed a lease to operate the Merewether Surf House.  The consortium currently own and operate the heritage listed Greenwood Hotel at North Sydney and Pontoon Bar at Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour. The group has also owned and managed the historic Royal Hotel at five ways Paddington, The Forbes Hotel in Sydney CBD and the slick and sophisticated Clock Hotel in Surry Hills

Crone Partners were in charge of the structural works and Co-AP were responsible for the leasehold interior design elements.

MPC carried out consulting services with Crone Partners for this reinforced and post-tensioned concrete structure. The project had numerous site challenges including designing the building to be partially embedded into an existing embankment, designing for suitable foundation systems that could be installed with limited site access, and ensuring adequate specifications were provided to ensure that site corrosivity issues were addressed to ensure adequate design life for this beachside structure.

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