West Australian Beach Redevelopments – City Beach

City Beach wasn’t always called City Beach. Prior to 1928 City Beach was referred to as Ocean Beach and access through the bush and over the sand dunes was by wooden plank roadway all the way from Wembley.  In the late 1920’s as Perth was expanding and beachgoing was becoming increasingly popular, the City Beach Tearooms known locally as Bert’s Shop[1]was a trendy place to be seen at on the weekend. The City of Perth Amateur Swimming Club also decided the beach was the place to be and relocated its clubhouse from the city to the coast resulting in the first of City Beach’s three surf lifesaving club houses that have provided a lookout for swimmers since then. Bert’s Shop later became the unofficial clubhouse for the first surfboard riding club in WA, the City Beach Boardriders Club.

Figure 1: The first City Beach Life Saving Club House. Source:

Figure 2: City Beach Tearooms are the large building in the background. Source: http://surfingdownsouth.com.au/2015/05/13/1950s-berts-shop-city-beach/

The 1962 Empire Games hosted at Perry Lakes Athletics stadium and the housing of athletes in the newly built Games Villages in the new western suburbs drew international and national attention to City Beach and its’ classic white beaches and attractive surf. With the impetus of the Empire Games, City Beach emerged as a desired, modern residential seaside suburb. With that popularity and growth came a replacement surf club: a curvaceous, eye catching, concrete sentinel in Brutalist style, designed to withstand the corrosive coastal elements, and provide a home for the new Bert’s kiosks.

Figure 3: City Beach Surf Club 1970’s Brutalist style. Source: http://www.australiaforeveryone.com.au/perth/beachside.html

City Beach and close neighbour Floreat Beach as a precinct is separated from its host suburb with a barrier of sand dunes, ovals, open space, carparks and the 4 lane West Coast Highway. These elements all combined provide both a protective and at times a prohibitive geographic barricade to this pristine beach. City is a great surf beach with a great surf club culture, but it has been something of an economic or commercial desert, lacking any real retail pulling power.

      Figure 4: Choc Wedges for sale at City Beach Kiosk. Source: https://fabricquarterly.com.au/2017/09/save-city-beach-kiosk/

The Town of Cambridge’s 2000 Local Plan Strategy[2] recognised the ageing beachfront facilities and absence of any significant retail attraction at City Beach and commenced the plan that resulted in City Beach’s third surf life-saving club and beachfront development being officially opened in 2016. Twelve years in the planning and two years and $17.5[3] million dollars to build, City Beach now has a surf club and beach front facilities that are arguably the most attractive surf and beach goer amenities on the metropolitan coast. The geographic buffer zone still remains but the lure of a day at City Beach has been significantly added to by the redeveloped recreational spaces and three high quality food retail outlets: Odyssea, Rise Pizza and Hamptons. The fish and chips and choc-wedges are still there but now co-exist with fine dining opportunities.

Figure 5: The new City Beach Redevelopment from above. Source: www.Christou.com/designs/city-Beach-Redevelopment/

Figure 6: The new City Beach Redevelopment from above. Source: www.Christou.com/designs/city-Beach-Redevelopment/

As a result of their work on the City Beach Redevelopment the Christou Design Group were nominated for a series of Architectural Awards winning a commendation in the 2016 Australian Urban Design Category.[4]  The City Beach Surf Life Saving Club and beach front development with its restaurants, amphitheatre, extensive recreation spaces and pathways for bikes, people and  surf craft, its grass topped roofing and impressive viewing towers is more than a great beach now, it is a vibrant social hub.

Figure 7: one of the new lookout towers along the beach front. Source: www.Christou.com/designs/city-Beach-Redevelopment/

[1] http://surfingdownsouth.com.au/2015/05/13/1950s-berts-shop-city-beach/


[3] https://www.domain.com.au/news/new-city-beach-precinct-takes-shape-as-first-restaurant-odyssea-cafe-opens

[4] https://architecturemedia.com/media/am/uploads/PDF/urban_design_awards_pm.pdf