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Beachside elegance at Promenade Bondi

Revisiting the much-loved Bondi Pavilion as a destination befitting the picturesque sweep of Bondi Beach, The Stella Collective has taken a sophisticated European approach to present Promenade Bondi.

Beachside elegance at Promenade Bondi

Originally commissioned by the Waverley council in 1923 with architecture by Leigh McCredie, The Pavilion was a heady mix of Georgian and Mediterranean styles. Interestingly the now iconic colonnaded façade was then seen as exotic.

The Stella Collective has embraced this aspect by opening the front and sides to the view, allowing the restaurant to take full advantage of the outdoors and leverage the natural ventilation, augmented as needed by large overhead walnut ceiling fans. Expressing the Pavilion as a pavilion may sound logical, but over the past 100 years the colonnaded section has been largely treated as an entry point rather than a sheltered place to enjoy the view. This return to the architect’s vision in many ways brings the splendour of Bondi Beach back into rightful focus.

With a material palette that skips nicely between the beach tone of limestone, travertine, linen and walnut, and the lux of chrome and cobalt blue (handmade Moroccan Zelligetiles), there is the addition of heavily textured walls, hammered reclaimed timber and sky-blue embroidery.

Drawing inspiration from the pavilion’s rich textures, vibrant colours, and the raw beauty of the coastal landscape, The Stella Collective has envisaged the space as both casual and elegant: “Our paramount objective was to ensure that promenade Bondi resonated deeply with locals. Just dust off the sand and step inside,” says Hanna Hakim, director at The Stella Collective.  

Echoing the curves of the colonnade, the large framed arched windows with inset arched doors elegantly suggests European orangerie architecture of the 17th-19th centuries. This is picked up in the outdoor area of the Front Yard Bar where large urns are used for plantings and the tumbling displays of citrus foliage and fruit. Large travertine tables, canvas chairs and terracotta sun umbrellas below white awnings continue to evoke this mood of the Belle Époque: “We knew we had to design a venue that not only invokes a sense of local pride and feel super casual, but also pay homage to the breathtaking location in a soulful and sophisticated way,” says Hakim.

Related: TZG’s award-winning Bondi Pavilion

Within the restaurant, the undulating ripples of Bondi’s seabed are crafted as textural lines across the entranceway ceiling. Deeper within, the curves become more pronounced and sculptural as the graceful curves of the coastline become the reference point to transform the ceiling into a series of barrel waves. Below this an elegantly curving banquette in pale buff leather is paired with curved backed chairs in a chocolate plaid with large gold motifs including stars and dots.

The heavily textured walls are countered by large blocks of slightly textured travertine used for the long bar and waiter’s station. The limestone floor tiles are only slightly paler and slightly less striated than the travertine to give the whole a rich enveloping materiality that is without visual clutter. Moreover, the floor conceals an energy efficient heating system (for the cooler months, so often neglected in designs for Sydney).

The bathrooms are a delight of insouciant colour saturation with bright cobalt tiles used for walls and inset nooks. “These tiles not only evoke the serene hues of the pacific but also pay homage to the pavilion’s storied history, particularly its famous Turkish hot sea water baths,” says Hakim, who has designed Promenade Bondi to suit locals and visitors alike. “Whether clad in togs, boardies or kaftans, all are welcome to indulge in Promenade’s seaside haven.”

The Stella Collective

Lillie Thompson

We think you might also like to read about The Stella Collective’s grand lobby for Memocorp. 

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