Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (108.17 MB)

Building a New Zealand Surf Life Saving Club Vernacular

Download (108.17 MB)
posted on 2021-11-14, 02:17 authored by Keown, Lief Inia

New Zealand’s coastal landscape is a desirable position that holds great significance to our country’s culture. Surf Life Saving Clubs are prominent architectural entities that sit proudly upon New Zealand beaches. Surf Life Saving Clubs have a rich history and are representative of the Kiwi lifestyle. Yet, Surf Life Saving Club buildings, as architecture, have received little serious attention. This thesis investigates characteristic features of Surf Life Saving Clubs in their coastal setting and shows how those qualities can be recognised in future club development.  A review of existing research indicates a gap in scholarship around the understand of Surf Life Saving Club buildings as a facet of coastal development. In this research an extensive range of Surf Life Saving Clubs are surveyed in order to gain a greater understanding of the building type; siting, form, and orientation. This is then followed by detailed case studies of active Surf Life Saving Clubs. The research deduces patterns in site, placement, orientation, form, function layout, structure and materiality that influence the buildings’ character.  Design Guidelines are formulated whilst utilising Critical Regionalism as a lens to reconcile the opposing imperatives that are inherent in creating a building that is both of the vernacular and architecture.  Finally, a Design Case Study allows the Design Guidelines to be developed and tested. Based on these investigations a Design Case Study is produced that models the application of a contemporary Surf Life Saving Club vernacular to a considered work of architecture.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

870201 Civil Construction Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


McDonald, Chris