HomeArticlesBusiness & InvestThe ebb and flow of change from Lennon’s Broadbeach to a rejuvenated Oasis
Oasis Shopping Centre, Broadbeach

The ebb and flow of change from Lennon’s Broadbeach to a rejuvenated Oasis

Nick Nichols | July 2020

After Lennon’s Broadbeach Hotel was built in 1955, it became known as the Gold Coast’s very own ‘oasis in the desert’.

The description was apt as the property was then located in the middle of a former sand mine, a mile from any residence on a site awash with the Gold Coast’s famed golden sands in all directions.

Although the hotel is now consigned to history, the apt moniker has survived, immortalised in the late 1980s when the Oasis shopping centre rose to dominate the central Broadbeach leisure precinct.

The transformation that Oasis brought to Broadbeach is hard to dispute, thanks to a new international hotel, a modern retail destination and the Gold Coast’s first monorail linked to the then Jupiters Casino across the road.

In its prime, Lennon’s was lush with memories for day-trippers and holidaymakers of casual days by the expansive hotel pool or a cool drink at the Beach Bar. The rise of Oasis in its place heralded a rapid evolution of Broadbeach into a world-class destination.

As a born-and-bred local, Brett Saville, the managing principal of architectural firm Buchan’s Gold Coast office, remembers the days he used to enjoy a drink or two with friends at the Beach Bar.

His father Tom Saville was a carpenter on the construction crew that helped build the iconic Lennon’s Broadbeach Hotel, so his perspective is uniquely coloured by a personal link to the past.

It was fitting then that Mr Saville headed the team at Buchan in 2016 appointed to rejuvenate the Oasis and reposition it as a new dining and lifestyle precinct in the heart of Broadbeach in preparation for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

It was a much-needed upgrade that Mr Saville said aligned with the emergence of Broadbeach as one of the Gold Coast’s premier leisure destinations for tourists and locals alike.

“Architecturally Oasis was quite a successful work for its day although, nearly 40 years on, so much has changed,” says Mr Saville.

“When the Oasis was originally built, there was no mall in Victoria Avenue, so the building never took advantage of the frontage it had to the street.

“Originally, the side fronting the street comprised mostly the back end of shops that were oriented towards the interior of the shopping mall. They were inward looking rather than outward looking.

“There have been huge changes in design since those early days and one of the biggest changes is that food and beverage is a much more important component in the retail mix.”

The Buchan team’s work on the Oasis earned the group a commendation in the 2017 Gold Coast Urban Design Awards, honoured for activating previously dormant areas of the Oasis with the main pedestrian boulevard along the mall.

The work, which involved development of the north-west corner into a new dining venue overlooking Victoria Park, is widely regarded as having invigorated the central Broadbeach entertainment precinct.

“We looked at all the retail spaces within the Oasis development and prepared a number of master plans for the site,” says Mr Saville.

“While there had been a number of food and beverage venues along the mall on Victoria Avenue for some time, we decided the best outcome was to reinforce this.

“It was a wonderful opportunity because it’s quite a benign environment and that helps to ensure the space can be enjoyed all year round.

“As the façade faces north, it captures the winter sun and avoids the south-easterly winds and south-westerly thunderstorms.”

The award judges noted the design for its ‘refined skillion structure inviting northern winter sun into the cafes’ and elements that reinforced a ‘calming, rhythmic edge to a space characterised by level changes, clutter and complexity’.

Buchan, an architectural firm with offices around the world, specialises in retail centres and among its other Gold Coast projects are the Robina Market Hall and Harbour Town Eats redevelopments.

“We are spending a lot more time and effort on the food and beverage precincts of our retail centres everywhere,” says Mr Saville.

“People go out to eat more often, and there are more diverse dining options from food courts to fine-dining restaurants.

“People like the ambience, movement and excitement, and these spaces almost collectively become a major tenant in their own right.

“Broadbeach and the Oasis are no different, and probably more so than a lot of other places. Over time, locals have come to treat Broadbeach as one of the major dining and entertainment destinations on the Gold Coast.

“Certainly, it’s been a hub for a long while and I suspect without Lennon’s being there originally, Broadbeach would never have evolved into what it is now.”

The triennial Gold Coast Urban Design Awards, which began in 1998, are on again this year with entries open until 21 August. The winners will be announced on the awards night to be held on October 9.

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