Nambour RSL:

Matthew Street,  Nambour QLD
(07) 5441 2366 or www.nambourrsl.com.au
A new renovation severs all ties with the ’80s, helping Nambour RSL to be the envy of the Sunshine Coast.

It was a big year, 1980. Along with big hair, big bands and some blockbuster classic movie releases such as The Blues Brothers and The Shining, the Nambour RSL Club was born. Earning a steady stream of awards since 2008, its recent renovation has gently removed any hint of the ’80s, culminating this year in the fourth ‘Best Club Sunshine Coast’ award in five years, as well as bagging ‘Best Club Café’ in the annual Club QLD awards. Nambour RSL Club is nestled in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, between the mountains and the sea and the latest multi-million dollar renovations and refit helps the club compete on a level footing with glossy hotels and resorts.

The club’s General Manager, Suzanne Long, said the redevelopment was a modern approach to club design and appealed to a wider market. “The Nambour and surrounding hinterland region are thriving communities and our club caters for all ages, including a growing younger population. We wanted to capture the younger market and have successfully achieved this by breathing new life into traditional club design.’’


Conceived and created by Rubicon Design and Construct, this fourth stage of redevelopment included the launch of Altro, a new modern bar (Zinc) and modernised ground floor entrance and reception. The gaming area, TAB and façade were also extensively re-worked, giving a complete overhaul to the 32-year-old building. “Our key objective was to offer an alternative dining option with the inclusion of Altro as people today expect different culinary experiences. Patrons now have expectations and an appreciation for finer food and coffee,” Suzanne explained. “Altro’s European design, complete with herb garden — a living screen comprised of potted herbs, grown and rotated from a greenhouse located on the club’s roof — fine furnishings and décor, has been a success. We are also very pleased with the design of Zinc bar, which features an open plan and modern fittings,” she said. Rubicon, which had worked on previous three stages of renovations at the club was brought in to work on a 20-year masterplan about 10 years ago. The latest renovation will see the club through the next decade with materials carefully chosen to age with grace and to look traditional but with a contemporary twist. “We use the phrase ‘honest’ to describe the natural timbers, zinc, stone and marble tiles, really spectacular carpet design, old fashioned long bricks and metal cladding to reflect copper. These materials are then replicated internally so inside and outside are seamlessly connected,” Rubicon Chief Executive Richard Butler said. “We even convinced the club to install a large double-sided feature fireplace with a flu that goes up through the space. It has a comfortable lounge feeling that we think appeals to the Club’s important family market — we didn’t want a cold hard nightclub style pub ambience.”


Richard credits the “progressive management team and board at the RSL” for giving them and their design teams the creative freedom to envisage and pursue a look and feel beyond the standard club/TAB, resulting in what he terms a “pub within a club”. To achieve the desired effect, Rubicon appointed two architects to work on the project, KP Architects (with extensive experience in upmarket pub work) for the interior design of the café, bar, and TAB, and hospitality experts WBP Architects to work their magic with the gaming room, space planning, lobby, reception and exterior skin of the gaming room. The result: two different designs that perfectly complement each other. “Gaming decor has a different energy level to a café, bar or TAB, so it made sense to use people who were experienced in these different areas,” Richard added. He cites the natural zinc bar tops and use of marble in the bar, the striking carpet design (from Brintons) and the more unusual bespoke light fittings in the café as his favourite things. “We used a number of standard light fitting designs in this refit, but we were looking for something different for the Altro and ended up working with Melbourne based lighting designer Stephen Hennessy who has developed some amazing lights for Crown Casino… he created the Puff light used in the café (pictured, top) and it looks incredible and unique. “He is a dedicated professional and I’m amazed at the passion and detail he applied to even this small commission,” Richard said.


Externally, the renovation called for demolition of the old facade, raising of the roof, and creation of a new exciting facade. WBP Architects’ Geoffrey Stevens said, “One thing we had to ensure was that different elements of the street facade were complementary, despite each end of the building having their own aesthetic and energy. This was achieved by maintaining a consistent fascia line, building massing, and the colour palette.” The long walls of the gaming wing were in a prominent location facing the main street and provided an opportunity to create a strong statement and attract attention to the ‘new’ club. In combination with strong colour contrasts, a loose geometric cross hatching effect was employed to make a bold statement. The design was inspired by the cane fields that for many years were a dominant feature of the local area. “It was a challenge to achieve something close to the original concept at a reasonable cost, but utilising a simple graphic design in the paint application achieved the desired effect within budget. The resulting 3D effect looks great,” he said. In addition to the initial concept planning and overall building documentation, WBP were also engaged to develop the completely new interior concept for the expanded gaming lounge. The space was increased in size by 200sqm to better accommodate the proposed 220 gaming machines, and the layout was reconfigured to move the cashier and provide improved accessibility from the lobby and lounge areas. Additional facilities were incorporated including new breakout decks and a new dedicated food and beverage station in the gaming room. This satisfied a key requirement of the brief to maximise player comfort and convenience. The street level entrance and upstairs reception were upgraded in keeping with the overall renovation (new paint, wall coverings, carpet and wood grain laminate). A feature of the café area are the wide frameless glass louvers which, while echoing a tropical feel, give the space a fresh, al fresco ambiance and help bring the outside in.


Kon Pangapoulos of KP Architects has spent extended periods in Europe and the design was influenced by the history and tradition of European villages. “(We wanted customers to) approach the new café and its large portal windows which are to be reminiscent of windows of a building facing a cobble street. The ‘street’ that leads you to other parts of the club is lined in natural stone ‘travertine’ to reflect the old, narrow cobble stone streets of Europe,” he explained. “The new venue is broken up into a variety of dining and drinking experiences and settings. The café mirrors a European café with rich colours, natural stone bench tops, timber floors and chairs. The space is intimate but is fresh and exciting, something that is demonstrated in the food concept,” he said. “A key aspect to the bar / lounge design was to create a space that will age well over time, and feels warm and inviting during the day and night with a strong connection to the outside. “This was achieved by the blending of honest finishes — marble, zinc, face brick, stone tiles and timber. When enjoying the bar space during the day, filtered natural light fills the space. At night, carefully selected accent lighting creates an ambient mood setting,” Kon said. The redesign also allowed for stacking doors which slide back to the outside areas and a tall vaulted timber lined box that encloses the deck also frames the views that can be enjoyed not only from the deck, but from deep inside the bar’s interior. “I love the way little nooks are also integrated beside the bar where smaller groups of two can sit comfortably away from the busier open spaces. The whole experience is carefully brought together by a palette of honest materials,” he explained. – Julia Langham

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