Design Office converts disused power station into restaurant in Melbourne
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DesignOffice converts disused power station into restaurant in Melbourne

Australian architecture studio DesignOffice has converted a former power station in Melbourne into a cafe and restaurant with exposed brickwork and abundant planting.

Higher Ground by Design Office

The eatery named Higher Ground is located on the western edge of Melbourne's central business district, close to the city's Southern Cross Station.

Collingwood-based DesignOffice inserted new levels inside the old industrial brick building to create elevated seating areas for diners. These mezzanine levels increase the capacity of the restaurant, while keeping the overall shell of the building intact.

Higher Ground by Design Office

The original brick walls and pipework are left exposed, but paired with terrazzo, cork, painted steel, and stone.

Higher Ground by Design Office

"The design approach was anchored around the creation of a series of tiered platforms, providing both intimacy and layered perspective within the extensive volume of the site," said the studio.

"The new architectural interventions are designed to sit with deliberate tension between the existing brick and concrete forms."

Higher Ground by Design Office

Staircases with navy blue balustrades lead up to the mezzanine levels, which are set between the building's chunky concrete columns.

"Midnight blue staircases are expressed as confident geometric steel forms abutting the soaring columns, which support the residential development above," said the team.

Higher Ground by Design Office

The space is fitted out with mismatched furniture – ranging from muted olive green and pastel pink sofas, to cork stools and wooden armchairs – to create different dining environments.

Higher Ground by Design Office

Leafy pot plants are lined up along metal shelving units, on sideboards and on tables. Several small trees are dotted throughout the space.

"Layers of planting, rugs, furniture and lighting inhabit the levels to provide a range of seating options for customers from morning through to the evening," explained the architects.

Higher Ground by Design Office

It was commissioned by Nathan Toleman – the restauranteur behind popular Melbourne cafes Top Paddock and The Kettle Black, which have interiors designed by Australian practices Studio You Me and Six Degrees Architects.

Higher Ground by Design Office

Other recent additions to Melbourne's culinary scene include a restaurant designed by Biasol Design Studio where diners are housed beneath individual pitched roofs and a bakery by March Studio that is shaped like a giant breadbasket.

Photography is by Sean Fennessy.

Higher Ground by Design Office
Floor plan – click for larger image
Higher Ground by Design Office
Sections – click for larger image
Higher Ground by Design Office
Sections – click for larger image