June 16, 1988

Article at The Sydney Morning Herald

NEWS | The face of Bondi


THREE things instantly come to mind when one thinks of Bondi - sun, sand and surf. Soon, all three will form the basis for a major repainting scheme of all the beachfront's buildings.

Waverley Council early this year got together with the then Department of Environment and Planning and unveiled a plan to rejuvenate the Bondi facade. Business people and property owners were to be encouraged to paint their buildings with paint supplied at a discount and utilising a selection of colours researched by a group of architects.

The paint scheme is part of an $8.75 million redevelopment of the Bondi beachfront which, when complete, will include the widening of Campbell Parade to accommodate street furniture, playgrounds and promenade, among other things. 

"Everyone here is vitally interested in the upgrading of Bondi," said Mr Louis Cahn, president of the Bondi Chamber of Commerce. "We applaud the initiative that has been taken, even though it is only a first step in what must become a revitalisation."

Soon the council will hold a seminar for business people of the area in the hope of gaining their support for the repainting project and other upcoming improvements. The seminar will also be open to the public, whom the council's promotions officer, Mrs Lee Anderson, hopes will contribute ideas.

"There are some marvellous artists in the Bondi community who would probably have terrific ideas for the area," she said. "We're open to suggestions."

But although most shopkeepers and owners have reacted enthusiastically, only three have committed themselves to the plan. Mrs Anderson said a formal launching of the project among businesses next month should encourage others to join.

Conybeare Morrison, the architects who redesigned Macquarie Street and Circular Quay, spent months researching the Campbell Parade facades of the past and present. They came up with the selection of colours which will be offered to shopkeepers and owners at a 35 per cent discount, thanks to Pascol Paints.

Ms Beverley Atkinson, project architect at Conybeare Morrison, said the company had considered three aspects when choosing the colours - the history of the area, the local effect of light on buildings, and the surrounding environment.

"We've been doing a lot of work down there," she said. "Walking around for hours at a time, looking at the way the sun affects colours as the day goes by, taking photos of the facade of buildings from different aspects.

"We've chosen the colours keeping in mind the tradition of whites, creams and brick in the area. But they will include colours in harmony with the sand, sea and surf of Bondi."

The beachfront palette consists of mild colours reminiscent of the seaside. They range from a shell pink to sea blues, incorporated with the range of traditional whites and creams.

"The feedback I've had to date has been fantastic," Mrs Anderson said. "People love it. They are happy to see something at long last being done."

She keeps at her office a montage of Campbell Parade showing the facade of buildings and the colour options from which business people and property owners can choose.

What did Mrs Atkinson think of Leo Schofield's suggestion, in The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend magazine, that the Bondi beautification follow the vibrant colours of a similar scheme in the United States city of Miami?

"That scheme is fine if you're in the States, or if you're inland and need to highlight the buildings," she said. "But this is Bondi. We want the building line as an entity to have an overall effect, not to have buildings impose themselves and stand outside the natural environment."

The Labor Mayor of Waverley, Alderman Barbara Armitage, said she was happy the future of the beachfront had initiated so much discussion.

"I know from talking to people down there that they're developing a real community feeling, a perception that things are really coming together," she said. "There seemed to be a real malaise before, people were just bored with the state of things and interested only in their own little area."

Liberal alderman and former Mayor, Mrs Carolyn Markham, was nonplussed by the repainting scheme.

"I don't believe any of them (the property owners) will take it up," she said. "I don't believe that it will only take a coat of paint to save those buildings - they're dingy, seedy and crumbling to pieces. Nothing will save the area except the developer's hammer."