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Interior Design: Albert St Food & Wine

April 27, 2012

A 1920s bank building on Melbourne’s busy Sydney Road is transformed into an open and relaxed restaurant, wine bar and store by Fiona Drago Architect.

Albert St Food & Wine is an all-day eatery, wine bar and store in the heart of Brunswick’s Sydney Road. It revitalises a landmark 1921 bank building to create a relaxed, timeless space in a busy urban neighbourhood.

The design uses natural materials and subtle detailing to ensure the integrity of the original building is retained. Previous refurbishments have been stripped back to reveal the original structure, including Tasmanian Oak floorboards and a ceiling of riveted steel beams and timber joists. The original windows flood the soaring space with natural light, and the old vault is a natural location for the climate-controlled wine cellar.

The bar sits in the centre of the space where the original bank counter was located, the brash mesh screen hovering above a reference to the old tellers’ screens. The dining area, food and wine store and kitchen cluster around this central area and have been designed with flexibility of use in mind. The dining area incorporates a more casual zone near the entry which functions as a café during the day and a wine bar in the evening. The food and wine store on the other side of the bar can be glimpsed through a wall of wine bottles. The ceiling throughout has been acoustically treated to control noise at comfortable levels. A north-facing outdoor area overlooking Albert Street provides further seating options.

In a reflection of the menu’s emphasis on local produce, furniture and finishes are sourced locally. Master craftsman Hamish Knox has made tables from turpentine timber originally harvested from Fraser Island and salvaged from a school basketball court, while the blackbutt timber used for the bar tops is salvaged from the old Appleton Wharf. The bar stools, outdoor furniture and feature lighting are designed and made in Melbourne. Artworks by Neil Taylor and James Guerts are incorporated throughout the space.

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