WINDSONG pavilion, bermagui, new south wales

Neilma Gantner visited me over a decade ago shadowed by her dynamo sidekick Sheena Boughen. They were plotting. They were ‘checking me out’!

Neilma and her family’s philanthropy had given the community of Bermagui the ‘Four Winds Festival’, a biannual classical music festival. The festival had grown from humble beginnings to the point that a new pavilion was considered essential to assist with performing and production. Sheena’s focus was to apply for government funding available for regional cultural projects. My focus (I was told) was to embrace their philanthropy and generously assist them! The irresistible ‘dynamic duo’ got their wishes. And so began a delightful journey of helping Neilma, Sheena and the Four Winds committee realise their dreams for a new pavilion. The Windsong Pavilion.

The design started out simply enough. A kind of ‘community hall’. And then with funding secured the provocation from Carillo Gantner to make the pavilion a great performance space. To do this we needed to seriously consider acoustics, scale and materials. But we didn’t want to compromise the experience or the setting. We wanted to see into the trees, to sit well with the Philip Cox designed soundshell, to be able to open the space entirely to outside and to ultimately make the space adaptable for all levels and types of performance.

As I contemplated the design, and as I often do, I returned to the well of ideas handed to us by Robin Boyd. His Black Dolphin Motel in Merimbula (1959) had been a source of inspiration and intrigue for years. It’s as though as an architect I’d been waiting for this moment to come. To be able to reference Robin in a public building in a part of the world I love and for people with the most honorable of intentions.