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Architecture: Chez Dre

June 21, 2011

Breathe Architecture convert a brick warehouse in South Melbourne into an eclectic, Parisian-style cafe with a spray-painted stencil floor.

With a desirably hidden Melbourne address, at the end of a bluestone lane in an unassuming utilitarian warehouse, Chez Dre is a stylistic juxtaposition which recasts the disparate passions of a Paris-trained pâtissier to create a stimulating and whimsically discordant café atmosphere.

The brief to reappropriate this empty brick warehouse into a boulangerie, pâtisserie and café was coloured by a collision of inspirations. Traditional Parisian bakery shopfronts, lush Chinoiserie planting and patterning, Art Nouveau detailing and Deco geometries are abstracted and combined.

Into a variety of spaces of differing scale, the raw interior is shaped to accommodate experiences intimate and animate, lingering and transient. With a vast kitchen, communal dining and tearoom, sumptuous long banquette seating, pâtisserie and coffee display counter and external courtyard, the plan is sequentially unfurled.

The discrete entry opens onto a steel lacework enclosure and threshold before presenting a space patterned with spray-paint stenciling, faceted mirror screens, planted pots and window boxes, buttoned leather banquette, curved baffle and collaged kitchen wall. The centerpiece is the open kitchen, which acts as a stage for the exhibition and performance within. The opposing curves of the kitchen perimeter and the pastry display imply movement, a torsion where interest is torn between spectacles.

In the spotlight the kitchen glows from within, while directional spots highlight its lavish produce. Strings of pendant lights hover over individual tables and nodes while bare bulb coach lights and light boxes illuminate the curved kitchen wall.

Chez Dre is a home for the passions of the pâtissier, whose performance and produce is reflected by this similarly stimulating and theatrical environment amid Melbourne’s unique and vibrant hospitality landscape.

Team Design Architect: Jeremy McLeod, Project Architect: Bonnie Herring

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