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Dunkirk Beach Clubhouse
Salt Rock, KwaZulu-Natal


Client:Dunkirk Residential Estate Homeowners Association
2013SAIA KZN Award for Architecture
2014SAIA Award of Merit

Award of Merit citation

Dunkirk Estate is situated approximately 50km north of Durban. The area is characterised by the rolling hills and the lush, green landscape of the coastal edge of KwaZulu-Natal.

The Clubhouse is situated on a long and narrow site, with the short boundaries adjoining a road on the one side and the beach at the other. From the road, the site has a gentle slope towards the crest of the site, with a dramatic fall towards the ocean thereafter. Previously, there was a house on this site and the Environmental Assessment Report stipulated fortuitously that the new building had to be placed on the same spot again -right on the crest of the site.

The architects' design for the Clubhouse is a delight in minimalism. Architecturally, they have done just enough to heighten the expectation, and then to confirm and to celebrate the dramatic qualities of the view over the Indian Ocean. On both the ground and first floor of this building, the most important aspect is the user's interaction with the sea. Proximity to the sea is the main reason for being there and, for this purpose, it is as if the building is not there at all.

The plan uses the well-established principle of served and serving spaces. The 'serving' spaces are discretely enclosed and used as two bookends to frame the view. All the vertical support structures between these two elements are slender and delicate, so as not to interfere with the view. These columns primarily support the mostly translucent roof over the first floor. Equally delicate vertically spaced wooden slatted screens have been used to provide privacy in places and to protect users from the coastal winds. The parking between the road and the building has been designed as a minimalist urban forecourt, emphasising the building without the distraction of any visual paraphernalia. This forecourt (parking) acts as a dramatic clearing in the natural, subtropical forest. This places greater emphasis on the Clubhouse, as a pristine object and the ultimate destination for the visitors. A grove of trees, planted on a grid in front of the building, leads the eye to the entrance in the most subtle way possible.

The architecture of the Clubhouse is crisp in its detailing and confident in its form. The crispness also forms a positive contrast to the apparent wildness of the area's luxuriant vegetation. In the way in which it has been designed, this building is also a logical and innovative response to the exacting realities of the local climate.

(Paul Kotze - 2014)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

South African Institute of Architects. 2014. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2013/2014. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pg 40-41