little creatures dining hall
The main objective of the Little Creatures Dining Hall project in Melbourne was to add a sense of intimacy and to offer a diversity of customer experiences within the large open hall. We were also asked to address the venue’s engagement with the street and entry point, which was intimidating and awkward for some patrons. There was very limited visual penetration from the street, and the entry door swung into a dark brick walkway, which then suddenly opened to leave people standing faced with a large vacuous hall. Fine when it was filled with people to get lost in, but usually the few customers present were hidden away in booths somewhere, and new arrivals were left caught in the eyes of the attentive staff. People often felt over committed and uncomfortable, which isn’t a great first impression.
The design resolution was to relocate patrons to where new arrivals could instantly engage with them and to scale down the feel of the main hall by sectioning it into smaller and more intimate dining experiences.
New dining areas were created at the front of the building, formed with warm materials and windows that opened to the street. All the existing street front glazing was replaced with non-reflective glass so that even on overcast days people could see into the venue. The entry approach was softened by opening it up to the new adjacent dining areas and by reducing its scale.
The main hall was broken up into different dining experience using furniture, partitions and lighting. The existing booths, often the first seats taken, were relocated from the perimeter walls where people could hide away, to the middle of the venue. This utilised their popularity to the venue’s advantage by locating the early patrons in centre of the hall, which was the first thing people would see once inside the entry.
The brief also included extending the upstairs office area and adding a new boardroom, which was located with a view over the main hospitality area. Custom bradleycole pendants lights were formed with Little Creatures pint beer bottles to add to the company’s subtle branding approach.
From a brand perspective, the internal architecture was conceived mindful of the company’s utilitarian and communally focused philosophy. The design resolution is a considered attempt at creating engaging spaces that still feel “under-designed”, and that allow for an organic layering of identity over time by it’s occupants. Cultural branding is vital to the success of hospitality venues and indeed all businesses, and understanding and strengthen a company’s brand is integral to bradleycole’s design approach.
Our role included the project management. We were given a fixed budget and strict time frame for completion. The working through the night . The venue had to remain operational during the building works, so site construction hours were mostly limited night time after closing, and we were only allowed to close the premises for 4 days. This meant many elements were designed to be prefabricated off site and installed in the early hours of the morning.