Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club

Leveraging key contextual influences, Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club takes inspiration from the corrosive nature of Victoria’s sandstone coastline to guide its form and materiality. It captures a robust ruggedness, through the ‘dune’ and ‘stack’ components, represented in the relationship between the horizontality of the club building obscured in the dunes and the verticality of the more prominent control tower. Each element appears to be softened by years of weathering.

Positioned lightly in the landscape and within the footprint of the original building, the largely expanded program was achieved by dividing it across two levels. Discretely tucked into the slope of the site, the bottom level acts as a podium to ground the project, providing strong foundations to support essential functions including patrol room, first aid room, change rooms, surf lifesaving equipment storage and ambulance parking with direct beach access. Following the contours of the landscape, the upper level floats within the coastal vegetation, directing the more social aspects of the program, the café and bar, toward expansive Bass Straight views. The entire ground plane is lifted to meet the top landing for im-proved accessibility. From most views, the building’s careful positioning and design gives the illusion that it is a single storey structure.

Separate yet clearly related, the control tower stands like a protruding rock formation positioned for optimal outlook to patrol the beach and shelter volunteers from harsh weather. The outpost acts as a coastal beacon or landmark which through clever construction phasing provided continual surf life guarding throughout the built.

The design is driven by a robust and weathered approach to materiality utilising natural timber, dark metal, concrete and glass. Echoing its connection to the ocean and eroded dunes, there is a deliberate curving allowing shadows to bleed around the corners and blurring any otherwise harsh contours.

Replacing the previous structure of twenty-five years, the significant rebuilding works intuitively involved reworking the holistic functioning of the centre to foster Ocean Grove SLSC’s position as a gathering place for the community. In addition to a comprehensive surf lifesaving program, a layered operational brief unfolds internally, with operable walls and integrated acoustic treatment to provide various configurations for hosting a wide range of functions.

Connected to site, landscape, and community, Ocean Grove SLSC is intentionally unobtrusive, subtly establishing a place where people come together around a shared appreciation of the waterfront.




Ocean Grove / Wathaurong Country




Mengzhu Jiang

Australian Design Review
Architecture & Design