When we were asked to join forces with Paul Hourigan, a former co-director of Riverland Group and his team to create a new bar and restaurant we jumped at the chance. Not only is Paul a visionary within the Melbourne hospitality scene; but Katherine Place, the future home of Archie Green, was going through a re-invigoration by Melbourne Council.
From Vacant Office to Modern Relaxed Hangout
The stakes were high for this fitout, not only did we want to deliver on Paul’s vision but we knew that the Melbourne hospitality scene demanded something a cut above. The Canopy Fitouts team wanted to create something that said ‘modern yet relaxed Melbourne’ to its patrons.
In reality the site was an old office that had been unoccupied for quite some time. Being a space that was used for office workers rather than hospitality staff meant there were some technical difficulties around the existing services to the building. Transforming this space into a restaurant bar with a full operating commercial kitchen meant a major overhaul of the existing, gas, electrical, and air conditioning services. On top of that we need to consider patrons as well, so every decision made on this project came down to being smart so we could maintain an effective workspace for the staff but keep every metre we could for customers.
Understanding the Vision
Paul told us that Archie Green was his ‘love letter to Melbourne’ and we totally understood where he was coming from, we love Melbourne and honestly believe it’s the best city in the world! His functional brief was to create something that offered a relaxed environment that could be used for bar snacking, private dining and restaurant dining en masse. But his vision was much more layered, from our very first meeting Paul knew he wanted this place to be somewhere adventure, escape and discovery were all possible, he wanted a place that spoke ‘Melbourne’ but offered a relaxed vibe because it was casual and uncomplicated. We knew we needed something that not only delivered on the vision but was uniquely Melbourne.
Delivering the Goods
Vision is one thing, delivering on it is another – the secret of this successful project was really Paul’s openness to work side by side with his builders at Canopy Fitouts. When the Canopy Fitouts team suggested using a street artist instead of an installation or basic paint Paul was very supportive. The end product, delivered by Elle of ELLESTREETART fame (check her out on Instagram) did not disappoint – the artwork sits in command of the dining room overlooking both patrons and staff.
A Place for Everything & Everything in its Place
Segmenting the space so that it had something for everyone was key but it needed to be done without creating a dark corner or wasting any space. Canopy approached this challenge with plants and lighting treatments. Creating both drop down planters and those on wheels as well as utilising lighting removed the cavernous feeling of a space and creates a real sense of place for all the different segments of the restaurant. Not only would this help the business in its day to day operations but it would also aid the private event requests by allowing the restaurant to transform into what the customer is looking for no matter what it is.
Breaking the Rules - Respectfully
With respect to building code as well as health and safety, fitouts for the hospitality industry do also offer an opportunity to get more creative! In the case of Archie Green, Canopy Fitouts used timber flooring as bar and table tops. The durability and rustic feel of this flooring timber just fit the brief perfectly. The custom library ladder flown over from Perth was a nice natural touch behind the bar as well. We then looked to the planters to embrace that same natural come rustic feel in another application. The end product was repurposed pallets with individual pots (complete with real plants) meaning that bar patrons could perch high without imposing on fine diners on lower tables. We then looked to the private dining space to close out the wooden features of the space, the custom dining table here is rough sawn Victorian Ash. With all these rustic elements we knew we needed to control the ambience so we flooded the space with 44 feature lights – the controls available with these lights meant that it was calm and relaxing when it needed to be but afforded flexibility for events.
When asked for his thoughts Karl Simity, Managing Director of Canopy Fitouts said, ‘It is a classic Melbourne hidden gem – it’s tucked away like all great pubs, bars and restaurant venues in our city. You can casually pop in and have world class food with exceptional service while enjoying a space that has been designed to make you feel comfortable and welcomed. This place is all the things we love about Melbourne.’