Marina Point Yacht Club Cairns, Queensland Sailing Building, Design

Marina Point Yacht Club : Cairns Building

Queensland Sailing Venue, Australia – design by Cox Rayner Architects / CA

9 Aug 2010

Marina Point Yacht Club

Location: Cairns, Australia

Architects: Cox Rayner Architects, Brisbane, Australia / CA Architects, Australia

Marina Point Yacht Club

Seeing Cairns as a city of edges rather than spaces, our aim was to culminate the city’s main axis in a new public space, rather than (as originally briefed) single edifice. This aim was accomplished by translating the brief into three pavilions – the Cairns Yacht Club, a pavilion of bars and restaurants, and a boat shed – defining the new space.

Marina Point Yacht Club Cairns sailing venue

Photos by Christopher Frederick Jones

The Club and dining pavilions form an L-shaped plan of activities addressing the space and waterfront, the latter extending out over the sea wall to engage the water. The character of the pavilions derives from memory of the former Yacht Club near the site and from the undulating topography surrounding Cairns, generating continuity of tilted roof forms linking the pavilions. These forms extend out to and recede to create varying indoor / outdoor spatial relationships, enriched by crafted openable screens and inbuilt furnishings.

The pavilion’s verandah and breezeway edges generate pathways to adjoining precincts such as Cairns Esplanade and the Reef Fleet Square designed earlier by Cox Rayner. By these connections and architectural typology, Marina Point assumes the character of a small maritime village in its context of large scale tourism facilities.

Marina Point Yacht Club Cairns Queensland

Conceptual Framework:

Much of Cairns waterfront architectural typology has been borrowed from elsewhere, only perhaps the small outdoor café associated with the Regional Art Gallery creating a place particular to Cairns. The aim of this project was to create such a place, an epitome of tropical lifestyle through spatial interaction, architectural form and materiality. Rather than forming an individual building, the concept was to create a small maritime village of pavilions set around a garden, these pavilions linked by and expressed in undulating roofscapes.

Public + Cultural Benefits:

Marina Point was originally conceived to provide a new yacht club with boat storage and marina amenities, replacing an old facility further along Trinity Inlet. Through design investigation, it evolved to create a waterfront precinct destination for the city comprising restaurants, bars and spaces that invite repeat visitation. This combination, together with an architecture that captures a new spirit of maritime experience, has rapidly evolved into the most popular night time destination of the city, and by day a major working facility serving the city’s boating culture.

Marina Point Yacht Club Cairns building

Relationship of Built Form to Context:

The initial desire of the client was for a single, ‘iconic’ yacht club placed at the furthest extent of the Trinity Inlet promontory. Our approach sought instead to form an external space as the termination of the pedestrian spine which links the site back to the CBD. This idea evolved to include not only marina facilities but restaurant, café and bar outlets to enrich the vitality of this important site. A more subtle relationship aspect was to recall the typology of the former Cairns Yacht Club (now relocated to James Cook University campus).

Program Resolution:

As noted the original client intent was simply to provide amenities and boat storage for marina users, and a small yacht club administration centre. By design investigation, the site’s potential was explored to offer a much more dynamic precinct. The elements – including its various dining outlets – form a linear sequence of functions around a courtyard that forms the focus of activity as well as a place for gathering sailing boats for events. This expanded approach also enabled a large unsightly existing substation to be incorporated into one of the pavilions.

Integration of Allied Disciplines:

The nature of the design as it evolved as a maritime courtyard precinct entailed collaborative design with the landscape designers Tract, and the incorporation of a focal artwork by Adrian Davis and Lubi Thomas of Mt Nebo Studio.

Cost / Value Outcome:

For $7.5 million, the city has gained a new lifestyle heart that has returned its value socially and economically well beyond the client’s expectations.


Marina Point is designed to sound environmental principles encompassing orientation, roof protection, natural ventilation and adjustability to differing climatic conditions, as distinct from sophisticated technologies.

Photographs: Christopher Frederick Jones

Marina Point Yacht Club, Cairns images / information from FD

Marina Point Yacht Club Cairns design : Cox Rayner Architects

Location: Marina Point Yacht Club, Cairns, Australia

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