Giant toilet people removed from Austinmer pavilion plan

PEOPLE POWER: 'I like your old stuff better than your new stuff', Austinmer residents told council. This picture shows the revised design.
PEOPLE POWER: 'I like your old stuff better than your new stuff', Austinmer residents told council. This picture shows the revised design.

Austinmer residents can breathe easy: the giant toilet people have been removed from renovation plans for the beach pavilion.

Wollongong City Council has revealed its revised designs for the $1.7 million refurbishment after protests from residents against the previous plans.

The local landmark – for which heritage listing has been sought but not granted – has been in disrepair internally for many years but the new homogenised design revealed in October did not impress locals.

The most prominent design feature had been bizarre oversized men’s and women’s toilet icons. Standing higher than a person, they dominated a front facade clad with timber slats and plastic, in keeping with many recent council refurbishments. 

TOILETS ARE HERE: Just in case you didn't reaslise. This scheme, with dominant male and female toilet icons, has now been euthanised, pleasing many residents.

TOILETS ARE HERE: Just in case you didn't reaslise. This scheme, with dominant male and female toilet icons, has now been euthanised, pleasing many residents.

This completely changed the appearance of the 1930s-era pavilion, and more than 1000 people signed a petition in protest.

Council will hold an information session at the site this Saturday at 10am to show the revised plans.

Council said its revised design was an attempt to listen to the feedback. The facade remains as it but with a repaint and additional seats. Most of the new work would be inside, where toilets will be modernised, disability access improved, and a parents’ room and family showers built.

The Australian beachside tradition of open showers in the changeroom will give way to closed cubicle showers with doors – for privacy.

The council refers to the pavilion as “amenities” but it has now conceded the building has more value than that for the community.

“Through our consultation the community made it clear they consider this building as much more than an amenities building,” Mr Bradbery said.

“They did not want the wood composite material and large cut-out male and female figures on the front of the building.

“We welcome this feedback, and have adjusted the plans while also taking into account the building’s heritage significance.

“We value feedback as it provides us with the opportunity to work together to improve a treasured community space in a way that works for all users.”

Many of the petitioners said they simply wanted the inside amenities restored but the old-fashioned exterior to remain the same.

Photographs on the Austinmer Conservation Facebook page show the building when it first opened and over the decades since.

Construction would not start on the project until winter 2019, council says.

The price tag is the same as that so far for the Austinmer ocean pools refurbishment. Progress has stalled on that project after more than three years.