Louise Nettleton turns Sydney driveway into comic-themed cafe

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Louise Nettleton converts Sydney driveway into a comic-themed cafe

Australian architect Louise Nettleton has shoehorned a coffee shop for comic-book lovers into a narrow gully formerly used as a driveway, near Sydney's Central Station (+ slideshow).

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

The Reformatory Caffeine Laboratory by Louise Nettleton is situated behind the garage door of an old driveway. A frosted glass and black-framed shopfront concertinas from ceiling to floor like a garage door, as a reminder of its former use.

There is standing room only in the 3.5 by 15 metre space, so customers drink at the bar. The L-shaped counter is made from matte steel with a recycled Glulam – glued laminated – wooden top.

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

Dark monochrome paintwork gives the cafe a cave-like appearance, which is complemented by industrial steel features and a distressed tile floor.

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

The client – a Colombian coffee bean grower, distributor and roaster – set his brief for the project using a series of comic-book style illustrations.

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

"He wanted a dark and grungy den-like cave," said Nettleton. "It suits the ephemeral and theatrical sense of this part of the city."

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

A black wall that runs along one side of the space is decorated with a white-outlined mural by Melbourne illustrator Heesco. The scene depicts several characters from popular comics and graphic films including Sin City.

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

"Basically Simon, the owner, is fanatically into The Joker, so we came up with a character of The Mad Professor, which is a scientific version of the Joker, pretty much," said Heesco.

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

"This is my version of The Dark Knight Returns, Judge Dredd and Sin City combined."

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

Small steel plinths project from the wall to give customers somewhere to set their drink, but are also intended to protect the surface from scrapes and bumps.

A comic book fanatic’s caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

The dark space is lit by rows of Edison Light Globes, which hang within the confines two long rusted cages. The cages are made from the textured steel rods typically used to reinforce concrete structures.

A comic book fanatic's caffeine cave near Central Station by Nettleton Architects

Photography is by Richard Glover.