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Beachside club combines the look of colourful Brighton beach huts with the razzmatazz of a Miami resort

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Contemporary beach huts, palms, a pool and sculptural loungers all feature in the Matisse Beach Club by Oldfield Knott Architects

Beachside club combines the look of colourful Brighton beach huts with the razzmatazz of a Miami resort Discover this article's resources 0


Hospitality can be a fickle business, with the success of a venue riding solely on the impressions its most avid promoters or detractors – the guests. One way to ensure a broad, ongoing appeal for a project is to draw on popular cultural themes and at the same time create an individual sense of place.

For the Matisse Beach Club in Western Australia, the owner's brief to architect Frank Iemma and interior designer Jenlin Chia of Oldfield Knott Architects was very much along these lines. Sean Reid wanted to evoke the lively, vibrant feeling of a Miami beach poolside club but with a local touch. The idea was to create a unique entertainment experience for guests, not simply a bright decor, says Iemma.

Built on a long, narrow strip across the road from the beach, the site of a famous old band hall, The Lookout, the 2000m2 venue has two environments. There is an indoor bar, dining and party space, complete with a meeting room; together with an outdoor party arena – centred on a pool – with a covered space at one end. This indoor-outdoor area overlooks the pool and is backed by a row of tinted operable glazing looking the other way, out to the street and the beach beyond. The windows are angled to mitigate onshore winds, and the space evokes the prow of an ocean liner. As well as roomy bench seating, this sheltered area includes a day bed that doubles as a DJ platform when night falls and the club's main rival – the beach itself – is in darkness.

Along with the blue pool and mature palms brought in from the United States, the most eye-catching feature is the row of six colourful poolside cabanas or seating booths. These are an abstracted, playful version of the historic Australian beach huts on Victoria's Brighton Beach.

A dramatic use of colour and light is central to the Matisse Beach Club experience. Not only are the six huts decorated with LED strip lighting, there are also matching bands of colour running down from each cabana across the wood deck and on into the pool. In addition, colour-changing lights glow through the laser-cut, aluminium-panel street facade and adorn the coffered ceilings indoors.


The cabana theme is continued indoors, with six similar booths in bright colours, and two bench-size versions for larger groups. The angular lines of the huts are picked up in the geometric furniture, and in the white sculpted heads that double as tables in the bar area and poolside. Adding to the lively aesthetic, a zigzag carpet pattern and a ceramic tile, in a complementary herringbone layout, cover most of the floor. The tile has the casual look of weathered timbers, appropriate to the seaside location.

Sculptural ceiling treatments contribute to the playful, beachy vibe too, their fluid lines calling to mind the waves and shoreline. A dropped wave-form slatted ceiling signals the bar service space, and skylights draw in natural light in key areas.

Despite its recreational feel, the venue caters to a business clientele as well. There are three main indoor areas, the bar, the dining area and a second bar space that can be enclosed with bifolding doors and used as a private, soundproof function room. This has its own decorative pool, separate from but in direct alignment with the open-air pool, offering another clearly visible indoor-outdoor connection.

The Matisse Beach Club's location had an influence on the choice of materials, too. Besides the durable, non-slip floor tiles, compressed fibre cement weatherboards were specified to combine good looks with durability – a must in the potentially damaging salt-laden air. Tinted, angled windows mitigate glare from the sand and ocean, and motorised sashless windows moderate onshore sea breezes.

"Alive with LED lights, blue water reflections, swaying palms and sculptural cabanas, the club captures both the spirit of a Miami resort and Brighton Beach's own slice of Australian seaside culture," says Iemma. "At the same time, the entertainment venue has a presence all of its own."

First published date: 30 October 2014

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Credit List

Project Matisse Beach Club, Hillarys, Perth, WA
Architect Frank Iemma AIA, Oldfield Knott Architects Interior designer Jenlin Chia, Oldfield Knott Architects
Construction company Buckingham Redevelopment Co
Cladding Engrave Acrylic; fibre cement Stratum Cladding System
Roof Suspended cement slab with columns
Windows Viridian Superblue toughened glass, installed with motorised Aneeta sashless servery windows Flooring Stepping Out carpet tile in charcoal; Knitwear by EGE Carpet; Viva Statale 9 floor tiles
Wallcoverings Trends tiles in Brilliante and Vitreo; Dent cubes by Inex; Laminam Kauri in entry; Wallpaper vinyl in servery from Spice Digital; optical clear glass with graphics behind waiter station from Spice Digital; polished plaster
Paints Walls and ceilings, Dulux; doors, Wattyl
Lighting LED light boxes
Heating VRF by Toshiba
Seating Indoor and outdoor fabric seating by Austex; seat hubs and outdoor area by Instyle
Tables Laminate from Proform, designed by Atlam Designers Laminates
Outdoor decking Modwood Natural Grain in Silver Gum
Drapery Création Baumann by Boyac on outdoor cabanas
Ceiling Barrisol ceiling by Barrisol Les Translucides